This article discusses the need for researching non-formal religious education as a neglected
field of empirical research in religious education. By describing the growing awareness of the
theological and educational meaning and importance of non-formal education and by
reviewing the literature on research in religious education which appears to be focused
somewhat one-sidedly on the formal context of the school and of the school subject of Religious
Education, the author creates a background for the presentation of current research on
confirmation work in Europe. The author gives an overview on a more than 10-year-long
project on confirmation work in nine European countries, with an emphasis on the research
design, methods, and main results. The experiences from this project are then discussed from
the perspective of research on non-formal religious education. Finally, the author considers
implications of this research for religious education and practical theology in general.
Prof. Dr Schweitzer is
participating in the research
project, ‘Gender Studies and
Practical Theology Theory
Formation’, directed by Prof.
Dr Yolanda Dreyer,
Department of Practical
Theology, Faculty of Theology,
University of Pretoria.