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The Juvenilization of American Christianity Paperback – April 20, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (April 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802866840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802866844
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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."

About the Author

Thomas E. Bergler is professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University, Indiana, where he has taught youth ministry courses for eleven years. He has considerable firsthand experience in various youth ministries and serves as senior associate editor for The Journal of Youth Ministry.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is a long awaited book for me.
Bob Myers
Bergler set out to bring us the recent history of youth movements and their impact on the modern church, and he did so with a masterful work.
J. Dean
My husband and I found this book very well written and really appreciated the research and insight of our current problems.
VP

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bob Myers on May 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Juvenilization of American Christianity is a must-read for all pastors, concerned laymen, and seminary students and faculty. As an evangelical Protestant, I read it as a diagnosis for much of what ails us in the contemporary church. I've known of Bergler's work in this area for quite some time and am very pleased that Eerdmans had the foresight to publish it.

Tom Bergler is a church historian with a specialization in youth ministry. The book covers the American cultural shift in focus to youth beginning in the 1930's to the present time. His narrative and analysis covers not only conservative evangelicals, but also the African-American church, mainline Protestants, and the Catholic Church. Leaders from all groups would benefit from reading this informative book.

As a history book, this one has the same usual challenges. It is full of pertinent detail (with ample end-notes) and it can feel a bit like work when reading about a stream not related to your own experience. But the narrative comes alive when reading about your own tradition. While it would be certainly enlightening to know the whole story, reading the sections that pertain to one's own religious story is one option for tackling this book. Still, it is not a hard book to read, especially with the author's helpful summaries at the end of each chapter. I found it quite engaging.

Bergler maintains that "juvenilization has kept American Christianity vibrant." I really don't want to agree with him, but he supports his point and I will grant it. At the same time, the author shows how juvenilization has also impoverished (my term; not his) the faith.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Dean on June 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's getting harder and harder to find books that stand out as stellar enough to recommend to everybody you know, and this is just as true in the Christian book scene. While good Christian books are not unheard of, it's not that often that a book comes out which ends up being so good that you want to run out and buy a copy for every pastor and youth worker you know.

So when I say that Thomas E. Bergler's new book The Juvenilization of American Christianity is a must-read book for pastors and laymen, I don't make such a statement with light frivolity. This book really does need to be read by pastors and laymen, particularly those involved with a church that is considering a larger push on youth outreach, or perhaps is toying with the idea of switching from a traditional worship service to a more contemporary one. Bergler brings the church face-to-face with its recent history regarding youth programs, and his chronicled account coupled with his own evaluation of today's youth-oriented ministries and churches gives us plenty of material to consider before we run after the latest and greatest fads and trends.

Summary
Beginning with the decade of the nineteen thirties, Bergler examines the youth-oriented movements of four denominations/organizations: the Methodists, the Roman Catholics, the African American Church, and the evangelical movement comprised of elements from the fundamentalist churches. He notes how the tone of the era was one of looking to the youth for the future salvation of the nation with regard to the political and social ways of life, and explains how the four above groups dealt with youth outreach in order to work for this goal.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Dunlop on August 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a key book on a subject that is important to me, how we train the next generation. (I'm the author of a book on a different angle of the subject, Follow Me as I Follow Christ.) I marked my copy up heavily, and learned quite a bit, and agreed with a good deal of it.

However, I think the author gave too much weight to juvenilization being "necessary" in spite of its weaknesses, and too little weight to how we must deal with what Scripture says about church and spiritual training. A huge blind spot in that is the fact that the book deals only with the church and parachurch in spiritual training of youth; it ignores the equal or greater role of parents, or the role of the church in training parents and families as opposed to traning youth separately from families. If parents did a better job in spiritually training their youth (including training them in greater resistance of the lure of pop culture), then "juvenilization" would seem less necessary in churches. This isn't the author's subject, but it is too important to his thesis to be ignored.

The book was also quite repetitive. The summaries at the ends of each chapter would have been better labelled as such or deleted altogether, and much repetition could have been deleted. This aspect of the book did not live up to the usually exceptional standards of Eerdmans.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Alvin Mcelvany on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a retired 71 year old minister with 39 years experience working with congregations nationwide and an avid reader of many contemporary Christian writers, I too judge this book as a must read. However, my conclussion is that we, me included, read too much about current religious issues. As a simpleton, might I suggest that we put our entire focus on the life/example of Jesus and work to become more like Him. "Have this mind in you" Apostle Paul says....Phil 2:5. Isn't this what our lives should be about. What a challenge! Nevertheless read and learn. Question is, What shall we DO about it?
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