May 2012 - Vol. 60..

St. Juvenile Church
by Michael Shaughnessy

In 1930s and 1940s American Christians realized they weren't keeping their youth in the church.

Something had to be done. Young Life and Youth for Christ began as off-shoots of the Miracle Book Club at this time. They all developed approaches targeted specifically at adolescents. It was also in this era that youth culture was rising and preparing to take over as the premier culture of the Western world.

Dr. Tom Bergler in his recently published book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity, traces the way youth ministries have both breathed new vitality into the major American church traditions and juvenilized them at the same time, resulting in widespread consumerism, spiritual immaturity, self-centeredness, and a shallow, feel-good faith.

Recognizing the power, the ways, and the means of youth culture is necessary if we are going to reach teens in the modern world. Hardly any are unaffected by it. However, leaving teens with a juvenile faith is hardly better than leaving them with a childish faith. Neither will serve them effectively as adults.

The Juvenilzation of the American Church is the lead story in the June 8, 2012 issue of Christianity Today.
Tom Bergler served on the University Christian Outreach (UCO) staff during the 1980s in Lansing, Michigan, and in London. He is a frequent speaker at UCO's Campus Outreach Academy.

Mike Shaughnessy is an elder in The Servants of the Word and the Director of Kairos in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people. This article was first published in the February 2011 Issue of the Kairos North American Youth Culture Newsletter..
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