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Research Project: Youth in the German Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement


Project “Youth in the German Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement”

Pentecostal and Charismatic groups have two ways to approach young people. The more traditional way is characterized by a strict definition of age-levels; the other way, the modern one, however, is open to any age. The more traditional way consists of the following features: the typical Pentecostal scout movement called Royal Rangers, faith courses, meetings for pupils and weekly assemblies of the youth. As well as holiday courses including sport activities and times of prayer. All these create a sense of community, so they can experience to be part of a peer group. Depending on the association there are different offers for young people: Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (special services for the youth, e.g. “Youth Alive”, “Deinhaus Berlin”), Mühlheimer Verband (special services e.g. “Jugendkirche Marzahn”, “JUMP Mühlheim”). Some congregations offer dance courses on modern music (Pop, Hip Hop). There are also courses on religious topics (e.g. Tübinger Offensive Stadtmission”, “The Call Berlin”).

Moreover young people can also contribute to the church by creating own homepages. With chatgroups and platforms they can interact with other people. In contrast to non virtual assemblies, in the chatroom there is no obligation to become a steady member of the group but a rather free exchange of thoughts. Therefore it’s possible to take part in the religious discussions and to become a part time Charismatic without giving up other leisure time activities. This virtual contact corresponds a modern human being with multiple identities as people can now very easily get access to a religious community: they no longer have to go to another place, mingle physically with other people and bare the pressure of face-to-face interviews, the only thing they have to do is to press a button to become a part of the religious group.

Events such as services for young people, disco evenings, concerts, prayer nights round it all off. Whereas traditional Charismatic offers, organized by the leader of the congregation, have a very obligatory character, the events, organized by young people themselves, are less binding and often without a obvious Charismatic appearance. Consequently, people from a non-Pentecostal background feel attracted to the latter.

A main concern of modern approach is to take young people and their issues seriously. An effective means to integrate young people is the use of Christian Hip Hop. This, however, causes an other problem, how to attract people from  e.g. the Punk, Raver and Goth culture.


Aims and questions

My project is to show the different existing Pentecostal groups in Germany. Taking this as a basis I want to find out if there exists a network between the single groups, that is created by young people themselves, or even if a pentecostal youth culture exists and how adult leaders handle with it. Another aim is to compare content and form of the groups. The following are my main questions:

1. Historical development (situation and time of emergence; founder; role models; influences by other youth cultures),
2. Quantifyable data (ascertainable size of group; distribution of age and sex; noticeable social background),
3. Organisation,
4. Special topics of the groups,
5. Way of life and attitudes of the actors (How can the Charismatic way of life be manifested in e.g. a Punk’s way of life? Gender roles; basis of faith; demarcation between the inner and the outer),
6. Places and times (How are the places designed? How long do young people stay there?),
7. Aesthetic and style features (Are there any typical accessories or clothes that show that one belongs to a certain group?),
8. Music (Are there any groups or labels that are accepted all over Germany? Are there similarities to non-Pentecostal or non-Christian Hip Hop?),
9. Media (Who is responsable for the media appearance? What kind of media is used for what kind of purpose? How often do members use the virtual offers?),
10. Structures (What kind of know how and work does one have to offer to become one of the in-group? How strong are they affiliated with the group?).


Methods

- Qualified interviews on the above mentioned questions with young people and the leader of the congregation
- Taking part in youth events and observing it at the same time. Observing and use of internet platforms
- Analysis of oral and written primary texts (literature, magazines, lyrics, sermons, prophecies)

Contributed by:

Claudia Hesse-Böhme

Stuttgart, Germany
University of Heidelberg
last modified 2006-06-27 00:41