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The Juvenilization of American Christianity
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The Juvenilization of American Christianity


Eerdmans 2012

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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 this volume, Thomas E. Bergler traces the way in which, over 75 years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions—African American, Evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Bergler shows how this “juvenilization” of churches has also 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.

In the Logos edition, The Juvenilization of American Christianity is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Shows how and why the process of juvenilization started and what keeps it going
  • Discusses how the process of juvenilization has benefited and hurt the major streams of Christianity in America
  • Tells the story of a key period in recent church history that continues to shape American Christians


  • Youth, Christianity, and the Crisis of Civilization
  • Misreading the Signs of the Times: From Political Youth to Trivial Teenagers
  • Social Prophets or Silent Generation? The Failed Juvenilization of Liberal Protestantism
  • The Black Church and the Juvenilization of Christian Political Activism
  • Why Everyone Wanted to Get out of the Catholic Ghetto
  • How to Have Fun, Be Popular, and Save the World at the Same Time
  • Youth Christianity, and the 1960s Apocalypse
  • The Triumph and Taming of Juvenilization

Praise for the Print Edition

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, associate director of the institute for the study of American evangelicals and guest faculty, 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, professor of history emeritus, 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, professor of history, Brigham Young University

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.

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

Product Details

  • Title: The Juvenilization of American Christianity
  • Author: Thomas E. Bergler
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 291

About Thomas E. Bergler

Thomas E. Bergler is professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University, Huntington, Indiana, where he has taught youth ministry for 10 years. He also serves as senior associate editor for The Journal of Youth Ministry.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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