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Joining New Congregations – Motives, Ways and Consequences

A Comparative Study of New Congregations in a Norwegian Folk Church Context and a Thai Minority Context


Morten Sandland

Why do people join new congregations? How does this happen? And which consequences does this have for people’s belief and behavior? These are the main questions addressed in this comparative case study from the distinctively different contexts of Norway and Thailand. While joining a new congregation in Thailand in most cases is understood in terms of conversion, what happens in the Norwegian context is mainly referred to as a process of revitalized commitment. However, common in both contexts was that joining a new congregation implied an aspect of religious change. In order to understand this change, the author applies perspectives from contemporal conversion studies, such as Lewis R. Rambo’s typology of conversion, and from anthropological studies of change.
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4 Persons - Stories from Bærland


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4. Persons - Stories from Bærland

4.1 Introduction

In this chapter I will present in more depth three individual cases from Bærland, identifying the main steps involved when they became committed members of the congregation. By listening more carefully to the voices of a few individuals, it will, as emphasized also in the case of Fahoan, be possible to provide not only a more detailed picture of the complex processes involved when joining a congregation, but also to identify themes that will be further analyzed in the following chapters. As in the case of Fahoan, what directed the choice of cases was primarily variation, not only in terms of gender and age, but also duration and level of involvement. Since the primary aim is to identify themes that will be further analyzed in the remaining part of the study, the three cases will be described now and be subjected to a more exhaustive analysis later along with the remaining cases, which will be briefly introduced in the final part of the chapter.

4.2 Jan - an individualist searching for fellowship

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