Juvenilization and the Need to Grow Down

51%2B3XPP%2BnvL._SL500_AA300_I'm loving Thomas Bergler's new book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity. His themes resonate with what I've been saying in recent years regarding the need for deeper spiritual formation so that our younger generations will be able to embrace a more mature discipleship. 

The trouble, as Bergler suggests, is that many of the growing churches in the U.S. today suffer from a mixture of vibrancy and immaturity. In other words, Americans have continued to practice their faith in the same mode that they learned through youth ministries over the last 50 years. So while youth ministry in many respects has been remarkably successful in reaching teenagers with the Gospel, churches have not necessarily enabled those teenagers to grow further or deeper in Christian faith as they grow older. American churches have "juvenilized" the expression of Christianity, with both successful results and harmful consequences.

"At the very least," Bergler writes, "I hope that all of us will think carefully about which aspects of adolescent spirituality deserve to be championed and which need to be restrained." There are certainly aspects of the personal and passionate nature of adolescent spirituality that need to be urged throughout our lives. But there are also aspects of consumerism and self-centrism from which we ought to be weened.

In this way, The Juvenilization of American Christianity affirms my thoughts surrounding the "GROW DOWN" concepts I've articulated on this website and in sermons and seminars and classes throughout North America in recent years. My intention is that we should encourage youth to "grow down" (rooted into Jesus) rather than "grow up" into adults as defined by our society. Adults in North America, after all, are remarkably immature (i.e. very childish, and not very childlike). My intention is to enable students to live unadulterated lives.

Bergler's book also affirms the Generational Transference Principles (GTPs) and Obstacles (GTOs) discovered in my dissertation work. The best solution to the issue of juvenilization is deep Godly Character… and the rejection of Possessive Leadership, two items to which Bergler frequently directly or indirectly alludes.

Anyways, check out this book. It is a healthy, honest and constructive observation of the blessings and hindrances of church practice over the last 50 years. 

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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