Why does Night of the Churches, a religious event in the Netherlands, draw both the religious and non-religious into attendance?
Bonding During the Night of the Churches Converging and Differing Experiences of Churchgoers and Non-Churchgoers
How should we understand the paradoxical phenomenon that people are showing substantial interest in new events organized by the church in a western-European society that is characterized by dwindling church attendance? An explorative questionnaire chose to attend the so-called Night of the Churches in the Netherlands. The majority of the respondents indicated that they experience the Night of the Churches to be a qualitatively different phenomenon from other festivals (e.g., museum night or music festival). Our data suggest that for both churchgoers and non-churchgoers shared bonding experiences (e.g., a special feeling of connectedness, contact with a higher spirit, together with unknown people) are what makes a Night of the Churches unique. Additionally, the results reveal that this event hardly changed respondents' image of the church and that more churchgoers (22%) than non-churchgoers (13%) were interested in new forms of being church. Again, shared bonding experiences make the difference when it comes to being open to new wyas of being church.
Photo by K.J. Messick
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