The Juvenilization of American Christianity
January 30, 2012
Below is an interview with Thomas Bergler on his forthcoming book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity (Eerdmans, April 2012), discerning how youth ministry has influenced the church at large. I like his definition of juvenilization:
The process by which things that might be normal and good for a teenage spiritually come to be accepted and even idealized for all ages.
He’s making a lot of the same observations that Reformed critics have been making for quite some time, though perhaps more tempered. He recognizes that some of these youth-targeted methods are appropriate for youth, yet they make a poor template for adults. His criticisms are sound — the immaturity and emotional baggage that has been wrought; yet, he claims that without this juvenilization the churches in America would be empty (hyperbole of course), because American culture at large has become adolescent and immature. The churches are tracking with this cultural shift. So, I’m interested to see if Bergler offers any proposals in the book for how to overcome this immaturity without emptying the churches (i.e., the fear among evangelicals of America becoming like Europe).
Unfortunately, the interviewer is not, ummm, my favorite.