Institute for the Study of Religious Education and Youth Ministry


The Institute for the Study of Religious Education and Youth Ministry (ISREYM ETF Leuven) aims at

  • furthering academic research on practices of religious education and practices of youth ministry, and
  • cooperatively learning with professionals and professional organizations in the fields of religious education and youth ministry to enhance the quality of their practices.

These practices have to do with formational practices in which a religious tradition is at stake, located in a variety of localities, such as churches, schools, the public arena, the family, social media, and all kinds of (faith) communities and networks. While youth ministry practices are formational practices rooted in the Christian tradition, religious education practices typically refer to a broad range of formational practices in which any (non‑)religious tradition or some religious traditions are central. The primary focus of ISREYM ETF Leuven is the protestant evangelical context in particularly Flanders and also The Netherlands, but it is not limited to that. Research also includes comparative studies in which other national contexts or other religious or non-religious contexts are also objects of study.

ISREYM ETF Leuven is an initiative of Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock, Professor of Practical Theology at ETF Leuven, and a direct result of what he envisioned in his inaugural address in 2019, in which he presented a research agenda for his chair in Practical Theology. ISREYM ETF Leuven is contributing in particular but not exclusively to the third line of research in the research program of ETF Leuven for the period of 2020-2027: Religion and Church in Contemporary Society – “Religious Presence in a Pluralist World”. This research line strives to offer critical insight into the complex realities of religious actors (institutions, movements, churches, communities and individuals) in their very different contexts. ISREYM ETF Leuven will focus, in this regard, on the contexts of religious education and youth ministry practices as these occur in schools, churches and society. In addition, these contexts also call for critical evaluative research on religious and ethical discourses, practices and actions that seeks to contribute to significant public debates, creating common space for understanding, correctives and suggestions. Attention is given both to situations in which religious actors are vulnerable as well as where they occupy positions of power and influence.

Research Questions

The central research question for the period of 2020-2027 of ISREYM is:

 How might learning in encounter be understood as a concept and as a practice in current practices of religious education and youth ministry?

Current Research Projects

  • Analysis of how the Bible is functioning in the context of Protestant primary and secondary schools in The Netherlands (Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock, together with Dr. Ronelle Sonnenberg, Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
  • Writing of the first International Handbook on Youth Ministry Research (Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock, together with Prof. Dr. Bård Norheim, NLA University College, Bergen, Norway)
  • Young People and the Bible – engagement with a holy text in a digital World (doctoral study by Judith Hildebrandt, MA; promotors: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock and Prof. Dr. Jack Barentsen)
  • Development and evaluation of an educational package for religious education aiming at building resilience among young people against radicalization and polarization (part of the Educ8Project (see also ISFORB); Researcher: Samuel Velinga, MA; supervisor Dr. Jelle Creemers)
  • Citizenship training in the context of teaching religion (doctoral study by Ben van Acker, MA; supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock)

Recent Publications

Jos de Kock

  • Markus, J.J., Bertram-Troost, G., De Muynck, B., De Kock, J., & Barnard, M. (2021). Distinction, Identification, and Recognition: Teachers in Orthodox Protestant Schools on their Faith and Religious Others. The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, 11(1), 137-154.
  • De Kock, A. (2020). Learning in encounter and spiritual development in stressful times: a reflection from the perspective of protestant evangelical youth ministry practices in Flanders. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 25(3-4), 224-237.
  • De Kock, A. (2020). Learning in encounter and addressing normativity in Religious Education Faculties/Programs. Religious Education115(4), 426-435.
  • De Bruin-Wassinkmaat, A., De Kock, J., Visser-Vogel, E., Bakker, C., & Barnard, M. (2020). Religious identity commitments of emerging adults raised in strictly Reformed contexts in the Netherlands. Journal of Beliefs & Values,

Judith Hildebrandt

  • Hildebrandt (2021). Review of Carsten Gennerich / Mirjam Zimmermann: Bibelwissen und Bibelverständnis bei Jugendlichen. Grundlegende Befunde – Theoriegeleitete Analysen – Bibeldidaktische Konsequenzen, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2020; in in AfeT Rezensionen
  • Hildebrandt (2020). Review of Michael Domsgen: Religionspädagogik, LETh 8, Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2019; in AfeT Rezensionen

Academic Conferences and Academic Service

Researchers from ISREYM ETF LEUVEN contribute on a regular basis by presenting at seminars and conferences and by writing articles for or being interviewed in professional journals or media.

Recent contributions:

  • May 2021: Judith Hildebrandt, M. A. was main speaker at the live-stream event: Die Auswirkungen von Corona auf Kinder- und Jugendliche;
  • April 2021: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock held a keynote at the European bi-annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry.
  • April 2021: Professional publication from Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock: De Kock, A. (2021). Recente ontwikkelingen in kinder- en jongerenwerk en jongerencatechese. Ouderlingenblad, 98(1124), 6-9.
  • Februrary 2021: Judith Hildebrandt, M. A. presented some content of her doctoral studies about Private Bible Reading of protestant highly religious Youth at the ISREYM colloquium, Leuven.
  • January 2021: Judith Hildebrandt, M. A. held lectures at the EGfD Training: “Youth – important current challenges in children- and youth ministry”;
  • October 2020: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock organized a conference on faith formation at ETF Leuven with teachers of religion and youth ministers as participants .
  • February 2020: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock held a keynote lecture on Feeling alive: learning in encounter in stressful timesat the annual conference of the Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies (CEEAMS).
  • Januar 2020: Judith Hildebrandt M. A. held her inaugural speech at Freie Theologische Hochschule, Giessen: Warum missionarische Kinder- und Jugendarbeit unbedingt an die FTH gehört.
  • November 2019: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock participated in the General Assembly of the European Council for Theological Education (ECTE).
  • November 2019: Judith Hildebrandt M. A. founded the youth institute YOUTH INSIDE;
  • November 2019: Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock presented a paper How to work with normativity in the Religious Education Faculty/Programat the annual meeting of the Religious Education Association in Toronto (Canada).
  • October 2019: Dr. Jos de Kock came to speak in the article Opvoeden tussen gedoe en genadein the journal Woord & Weg (Protestantse Kerk Nederland).


Jos de Kock
Judith Hildebrandt (PhD student)
Samuël Velinga (see ISFORB)
Ben van Acker (Affiliated Researcher & PhD student)
Andreas Jägers (pre-doc student)



Kick off ISREYM ETF Leuven


3 October 2020: Studiedag Geloofsopvoeding: een lastig verhaal?


Professors Vleugels and Koorevaar Give Farewell Lectures

Professors Vleugels and Koorevaar...

Both biblical scholars with long track records at ETF Leuven will hold their farewell lectures during the annual doctoral week.

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Resisting the Divide - A Theological Contribution to Economic and Social Policy

Resisting the Divide - A Theological...

A Theological Contribution to Economic and Social Policy

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