HUNTINGTON, Ind. — Huntington University ministry professor Dr. Tom Bergler has released a new book titled “The Juvenilization of American Christianity.”
In his book, Bergler traces the way in which, over the past 75 years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions: African American, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic.
“In the book, I argue that youth ministries have revitalized American Christianity but at the cost of making American Christians more immature,” Bergler said. “And I call this process the juvenilization of American Christianity.”
Bergler shows 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” he says. Bergler’s critique further offers constructive suggestions for taming this juvenilization.
“I’m in favor of youth ministry, but it needs to be done in a way that fosters spiritual maturity” he said.
Bergler is an associate professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University. He completed his Ph.D. in American Religious History from the University of Notre Dame and his M.A. in theology and church history from Wheaton College. He served as a staff worker for University Christian Outreach for seven years, helping to evangelize and disciple students at the University of Michigan, the University of London and Michigan State University. He also co-founded the Spring Academy, a Christian theology and ministry camp for students from state universities.
He currently serves as senior associate editor of The Journal of Youth Ministry, and is the author of numerous articles and papers on the topic of ministry.
“Juvenilization” is available now at www.eerdmans.com.