Discussing Liturgy in the Danish National Evangelical-Lutheran Church

Maj Jensen Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis studies the current ongoing process of debating and possibly renewing the liturgy in the Danish National Evangelical-Lutheran Church(DNELC).The liturgy structuring the Sunday Mass and selected sacraments (like baptism, supper, marriage and funeral) are all authorized in a regulation which must be observed by the entire DNELC.
The process started in 2016 when the ten bishops of the DNELC decided to establish three professional committees each tasked with examining a different aspect of liturgical life in the church and produce a report each with the purpose of kickstarting a larger debate within and beyond the DNELC. The process is now in the open debate stage where local congregations are invited to debate and share their thoughts on the authorized liturgy of the church.
This thesis tries to answer the following question:
How does the ongoing discussion on liturgy in the Danish National Evangelical-Lutheran Church highlights the challenges in relation to internal management of the church?
The empirical material used to answer this question is partly interviews with priests in the DNELC and partly the report on authorization of the liturgy produced by one of the professional committees. The methodology of the thesis is based on Niklas Luhmanns system theory which is used as both theoretical framework and methodology.
The thesis explores through second order observation how the ongoing liturgy process is observed as a solution to different problems, how the concepts of authorization and freedom are observed in the church and finally how management is observed to have a possible legitimacy deficit. The thesis finds how the hierarchical top of the DNELC is concerned with maintaining control over the liturgy whereas the local priests demands a larger extend of freedom to adapt the liturgy to their local practices. The discussion offers an explanation of this discrepancy based on how the bishops respectively the priests are encouraged to observe the DNELC as either an organization for which they have responsibility as a whole (the bishops) or a disorganization where they only hold responsibility for their local part (the priests).
It becomes clear that the missing understanding of modern leadership as management of self-management stands in the way of using the liturgy process to properly redefine dogmas linked to management within the DNELC. Even though both priests and the professional committee asks for a new managerial regime based on coaching and guidance rather than control.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages76
SupervisorsCamilla Sl√łk