Thomas E. Bergler
Eerdmans Publishing, 281 Pages, Paper, $25.00

The cover letter accompanying this book summarizes it best: “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. . . . 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—and, significantly, he offers constructive suggestions for taming juvenilization.”

Whether one agrees with everything in the book, it serves as both history and challenge: “Youth ministry educators need to teach future youth ministers about juvenilization and equip them to serve as responsible cultural gatekeepers in the church.”

Bergler is an associate professor of ministry, has taught youth ministry courses, and has had considerable firsthand experience in various youth ministries.