CPYU (the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding) has for MANY YEARS been one of my favorite “go-to” websites for information and perspective on youth culture. Walt Mueller’s blog has also been one of the many blogs that I read through on a daily basis. Today’s post was especially “tasty”…Walt is having the opportunity to review an upcoming book that has “prophetic” written all over it. Now, I’m not talking “futuristic, predictive” prophesy…rather, this might be “God’s Word being spoke to His people” type of prophesy…in other words, a “listen up and get your act together” type of prophesy. So, what I’ve done is essentially posted for you “most” of Walt’s blog post. I think you might find it intentionally provocative (another prophetic trait…think Jeremiah and Hosea if you will). These insights are powerful because they point out a pop culture “flaw”…the idolization of youth and the fallout of wide-spread immaturity across many aspects of our lives. Anyway, enjoy…or rather, be irritated…or rather, feel something!
“The youth ministry world is about to be introduced to (another) royal pain in the butt. Thomas Bergler, Associate Professor of Ministry and Missions at Huntington University, has written a disturbing book that will be released in April. . . The Juvenilization of American Christianity. I call the book “disturbing” because it’s going to shake us up. I’m currently reading the manuscript as I’ve been asked to write an endorsement. Bergler brings together history, theology, sociology, and developmental theory in a brilliant mix that’s going to make the church – I hope – sit back and ask ourselves some pretty hard questions about what, why, and how we’ve been doing things.
“Juvenilization,” writes Bergler, “is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for Christians of all ages. It begins with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young. But it sometimes ends badly, with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith.” He goes on to explain how our churches now pander to American consumerism, self-centeredness, and immaturity of American believers. He clarifies, “The story of juvenilization is a story not of a sinister plot or a noble crusade, but of unintended consequences and unquestioned assumptions.”
I’m not yet finished with The Juvenilization of American Christianity, but I’m really liking what I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll be blogging on this book more in the coming weeks. At this point, I’m thinking that Bergler is offering a nice follow-up to Christian Smith’s Soul-Searching.
Here’s a little interview clip with Bergler that will give you a taste of what the book is all about. If you can’t bear to sit through the entire 15 minutes of the interview your impatience might just prove Bergler’s point! Church, youth ministry world, and fellow juvenile Christians. . . meet Thomas Bergler. . . a royal pain in the butt whose arrival is timely and even long overdue! . . .