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The Juvenilization of American Christianity

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2012 / Paperback

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Pop worship music. Falling in love with Jesus. Mission trips. Wearing jeans and T-shirts to church. Spiritual searching and church hopping. Faith-based political activism. Seeker-sensitive outreach. These now-commonplace elements of American church life all began as innovative ways to reach young people, yet they have gradually become accepted as important parts of a spiritual ideal for all ages. What on earth has happened?

In The Juvenilization of American Christianity Thomas Bergler traces the way in which, over seventy-five years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions - African American, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Bergler shows too how this "juvenilization" of churches has led to widespread spiritual immaturity, consumerism, and self-centeredness, popularizing a feel-good faith with neither intergenerational community nor theological literacy. Bergler's critique further offers constructive suggestions for taming juvenilization.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 312
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802866840
ISBN-13: 9780802866844
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Pop worship music. Falling in love with Jesus. Mission trips. Wearing jeans and T-shirts to church. Spiritual searching and church hopping. Faith-based political activism. Seeker-sensitive outreach. These now-commonplace elements of American church life all began as innovative ways to reach young people, yet they have gradually become accepted as important parts of a spiritual ideal for all ages. What on earth has happened?

In The Juvenilization of American Christianity Thomas Bergler traces the way in which, over seventy-five years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions -- African American, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Bergler shows too how this "juvenilization" of churches has led to widespread spiritual immaturity, consumerism, and self-centeredness, popularizing a feel-good faith with neither intergenerational community nor theological literacy. Bergler’s critique further offers constructive suggestions for taming juvenilization.

 

Author Bio

Thomas E. Bergler is associate professor of ministry andmissions at Huntington University, Huntington, Indiana,where he has taught youth ministry for ten years. He alsoserves as senior associate editor for The Journal of YouthMinistry.

Endorsements

One of the key themes within the American church since the 1930s--and particularly since the 1960s--has been the change in how congregations approach youth ministry and youth culture. The Juvenilization of Christianity by Thomas Bergler explores the wide-ranging ramifications of this revolution across the denominational spectrum, examining not only its impact upon young people but also the larger implications--positive and negative--for the entire church. Anyone really trying to understand the dynamics of American Christianity must read this book.
-Larry Eskridge,
Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, Wheaton College

The Juvenilization of American Christianity provides a fine history of one of the most significant revolutions in twentieth-century Christianity...Anyone concerned with the church and its ministries can learn from reading this book and reflecting on the changes that Bergler describes.
-George Marsden,
University of Notre Dame

In exploring previously unexamined relationships between youth, politics, culture, and Christian traditions, Bergler greatly enriches our understanding of Christian youth programs and American religious history.
-Rebecca de Schweinitz,
author of If We Could Change the Word: Young People and America's Long

A fascinating exploration o the places where Christianity and youth culture have intersected...Will certainly be provocative both for the casual reader and for clergy, who may also appreciate the book's practical suggestions toward a solution.
Publishers Weekly

Juvenilization is a long-overdue call to question our means, methods, and message...Bergler shakes us awake and helps us see what's really happening in our youth ministries and churches.
-Walt Mueller,
Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Editorial Reviews

Larry Eskridge
-- Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, Wheaton College
"One of the key themes within the American church since the 1930s -- and particularly since the 1960s -- has been the change in how congregations approach youth ministry and youth culture. The Juvenilization of Christianity by Thomas Bergler explores the wide-ranging ramifications of this revolution across the denominational spectrum, examining not only its impact upon young people but also the larger implications -- positive and negative -- for the entire church. Anyone really trying to understand the dynamics of American Christianity must read this book."

George Marsden
-- University of Notre Dame
"The Juvenilization of American Christianity provides a fine history of one of the most significant revolutions in twentieth-century Christianity. . . . Anyone concerned with the church and its ministries can learn from reading this book and reflecting on the changes that Bergler describes."

Rebecca de Schweinitz
-- author of If We Could Change the Word: Young People and America's Long Struggle for Racial Equality
"In exploring previously unexamined relationships between youth, politics, culture, and Christian traditions, Bergler greatly enriches our understanding of Christian youth programs and American religious history."

Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating exploration of the places where Christianity and youth culture have intersected. . . . Will certainly be provocative both for the casual reader and for clergy, who may also appreciate the book's practical suggestions toward a solution."

Walt Mueller
-- Center for Parent/Youth Understanding
"Juvenilization is a long-overdue call to question our means, methods, and message. . . . Bergler shakes us awake and helps us see what's really happening in our youth ministries and churches."

Journal of American History 
"Historians, especially those of children and youth, will find this book a valuable resource on how the rapidly changing youth culture of the twentieth century affected the lives of religious youth as adult Christians attempted to spare them from the perceived moral decline in American society."
 
Youthworker

"Bergler argues that American Christianity of the 1930s and ’40s faced the dilemma of a rapidly changing youth culture that chose to adapt to the new culture rather than risk losing her young people. Bergler suggests that in doing so, the church has paid the high price for Christian vibrancy. The price has been a tradeoff of obligation for consumption."
 
Lutheran Quarterly 
"Bergler pushes hard to the church to move from the emotive back to something like the doctrinal, from feelings to tradition and commitment. . . . This book makes a case for adults and youth leaders to claim their adulthood, recognizing that what young people need most is not tour guides into entertaining emotive fun, but ways to articulate the presence and absence of God in their lives. . . . This book does a wonderful job of giving us a vision of a disease affecting the church."

9Marks Journal
"The Juvenilization of American Christianity and From Here to Maturity will richly repay every Christian leader who takes the time to read them."
 

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  1. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    This book explains a lot
    September 9, 2012
    Curtis Browning
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This book goes a long way toward explaining the type of worship services and preaching that is found in many churches today. I found it answered a number of my questions.
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