Friday, June 29, 2012

We're all adolescents now

From The Juvenilization Of American Christianity:
"Juvenilization happened when no one was looking. In the first stage, Christian youth leaders created youth-friendly versions of the faith in a desperate attempt to save the world. Some hoped to reform their churches by influencing the next generation. Others expected any questionable innovations to stay comfortably quarantined in youth rallies and church basements. Both groups were less concerned about long-term consequences than about immediate appeals to youth.

"In the second stage, a new American adulthood emerged that looked a lot like the old adolescence. Fewer and fewer people outgrew the adolescent Christian spiritualities they had learned in youth groups; instead, churches began to cater to them."


Jason Frankenfield said...

I agree with the author's concern for inter-generational community & theological literacy, but question some of the arguments. With the exception of church hopping, is the list the author critically cites really that problematic? While I'm more traditional, I wonder if we're not all guilty in ways of pushing our preferences of style/method due to personal preferences. I question if Paul (all things to all men) and Jesus (in the world, but not of it) would be so concerned about the style/method. If our faith is juvenile, isn't this an issue of the heart, not an issue of whether our music style & preferences are traditional or pop?

Todd Pruitt said...

The author actually offers what I think is a very balanced view of the trend of juvenilization. But he points out convincingly that many of the practices, presuppositions, and vocabulary that are ubiquitous in the church today were, beginning in the 1930's, things that were confined to youth culture.

I don't think form can be neatly separated from function. The one has a definite effect on the other.

Paul's reference to being all things to all men has a very specific context. He is talking about the fact that when he is with Jews he repects their laws but when he is with Gentiles he feels no such obligation. And Jesus warning to be in the world but not of it, I believe, actually works in favor the author's premise. The church has assumed too many of the world's methods and presuppositions.

We certainly do need to avoid making personal preference a matter of conscience to be followed by all. But we also must avoid the error that HOW we do things in our worship, preaching, and evangelism is entirely up to us.