The Juvenilization of American Christianity

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by OldRegular, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. OldRegular

    OldRegular
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    Is there any merit to the following comments?

    The house lights go down. Spinning, multicolored lights sweep the auditorium. A rock band launches into a rousing opening song. “Ignore everyone else, this time is just about you and Jesus,” proclaims the lead singer. The music changes to a slow dance tune, and the people sing about falling in love with Jesus. A guitarist sporting skinny jeans and a soul patch closes the worship set with a prayer, beginning, “Hey God …” The spotlight then falls on the speaker, who tells entertaining stories, cracks a few jokes, and assures everyone that “God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”

    After worship, some members of the church sign up for the next mission trip, while others decide to join a small group where they can receive support on their faith journey. If you ask the people here why they go to church or what they value about their faith, they’ll say something like, “Having faith helps me deal with my problems.” Fifty or sixty years ago, these now-commonplace elements of American church life were regularly found in youth groups but rarely in worship services and adult activities. What happened?

    Beginning in the 1930s and ’40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.

    http://zionica.com/2012/06/11/the-juvenilization-of-american-christianity/
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    I think there is, and there the book by the same name is in my desk for reading.

    However, I'm still a pretty big advocate of progressive worship style as it is effective in many areas.
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    I read the article a few days ago. I don't think it is as much an indictment of 'progressive worship' as it is of 'entertainment worship' at the expense of 'edifying worship'.
     
  4. Greektim

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    Watch this video which hits the nail on the head of what this thread is all about and how American Evangelicalism has missed the point by and large. It is only 2 minutes long.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk8ERxqCZqQ
     
  5. Ed B

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    I read the article when I got the magazine last week. I thought it had merit and I think the topic is worth discussing. I agree that we have modified style, and in some cases substance, in the Church to mimic youth group activities of old. Just as another example, I think that today's small-groups are an awful lot like the "rap-sessions" our youth group had in the mid to late 70's. I don't remember our parents having anything like "rap sessions" or small groups back then, but that doesn't mean they are bad.
     
  6. Alive in Christ

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    There is nothing wrong at all with updating you how folks "do church".

    As long as the foundational things are left undisturbed I have no issues with it at all.

    And I realise that it can be disturbing for some people. As an example, if my local church, that I really love, decided to switch to an exculicively "Rap/Hip hop" style of worship noise..exuse me, music...I would probably have to, in due time, find another place to fellowship...but to me thats not a big deal.

    After all, we are all members of the((ONE))) church anyway. :godisgood:
     
  7. HankD

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    Seems a long way from Jonathan Edwards and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God point of view and BTW the Great Awakening contemporary with Edwards began with juveniles.

    HankD
     
  8. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    Greek Tim...

    Thank you for that MOST ECCELLANT video. That was wonderfull.
     
  9. Mexdeaf

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    Yes, it was excellent and wonderful! Going to share it on FB!
     
  10. Sapper Woody

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    I think that the instance in the OP is an extreme, not the rule. However, I am not too concerned with the method of worship, as long as the message of worship is not lost. Are people getting saved? Are people getting closer to God? Or are they just having an emotional experience that they are addicted to that keeps them coming back?

    As far as it being juvenile, I think a lot of it has to do with the tastes of the current generation. Take video games for example. A couple of decades ago video games were for kids. Now they're for everyone, and people can even make a living playing them (not just testers and designers, but there's actually a major league gaming community where people can play in tournaments and win cash prizes for a living).

    With the changing of tastes and times, and the competition for attention, we need to look at out methods of fulfilling the great commission. But we must ensure that our message enver changes.

    In the scenario above, I would probably enjoy myself. But I wouldn't feel as if I went to church and got fed.
     
  11. Luke2427

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    I could not agree more.

    I actually think this is a terrible problem in our culture. We've lost, in these churches, the transcendence and majesty of God. There is no fear of the Lord in these type services.

    God is, in atmosphere, not reality, plucked from his lofty throne and made into a buddy, or a girlfriend.

    And it is not just, in my opinion, the juvenilization of the church; it is also the emasculation of the church.

    But I will also say that there is a similar type problem among other churches who resist this kind of thing. I have no other word for it than the one I am about to use. It will, no doubt offend some, but I really do not intend to. If I could think of a less offensive term that conveys as well what I am trying to say, I would. But here it is:

    There is the "redneckization" of the church over the past 100 years, too.

    Let me hasten to clarify. "Redneck" can be a term to describe wonderful, hard working, honest people. I am not using the term to demean such people. I am a country boy, myself. In a moment, I'll get up from here and feed my 50 chickens. I like trot-lining- a lot. I think squirrel, venison and rabbit are delicious meats and I enjoy hunting them when I can. I have a garden that I'll plow this very morning.

    What I mean by "redneckization" is the influx of a recklessly casual atmosphere into our primary worship service that is very "country" in nature. Blue grass and other country music songs that are adored for their sound, rather than their message, characterize the worship service. Songs that do not say anything deeply glorifying to Christ. Songs like "Life is Like a Mountain Railroad," and "The Angels are Holding up that Ladder that I'm Climbing On," and "Mama's Rocking Chair", and "Daddy's Hands" etc, etc, etc...

    This kind of service that, in my experience, is often sloppily put together with no preparation and people popping up to sing who often can't and were not scheduled to (because little is planned and organized)- this is just as bad as the other, in my opinion.
     
    #11 Luke2427, Jun 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2012
  12. Luke2427

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    Boy, I agree with that on so many levels.

    Will you permit me to stray a bit from a part of it and challenge a particular element I see deficient in it, without writing me off as against the core of it?

    If so, read on.

    I am so passionately for getting your hands dirty in discipleship, for leaving the church building and invading the world with the compassionate Gospel of Christ, for meeting people where they are, and all the other things this great video preaches.


    It is VERY New Testament- which is a VERY good thing. The New Testament does exceed the Old Testament in glory because it is a clearer and fuller portrait of Christ.

    But what the video misses, in my opinion, is the loftiness of worship described in the Old Testament.

    House churches were what the early church could do. It is always acceptable for Christians to do the best they can with what they have. But as the church grew and conquered more and more of Her society for Christ, she began to build large church buildings and cathedrals. She did not have to hide in the catacombs any more.

    And her Lord's Day worship, as it was more able, embraced the fear and majesty of worship attributable to the Almighty depicted in the Old Testament.

    While we are getting our hands dirty out there, let us still have, in the church, a worship service that, to the best of our ability, is the kind of majestic, awesome, grand, lofty worship which God deserves.
     
  13. Jkdbuck76

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    So, Luke..... you've been to my church? This is EXACTLY what drives me nuts about my home church. And I guess I have to wait for the all the guys in the worship band to die off one by one because NO PREACHER has been able to break them of this habit. In fact, I don't know what is more sad: that we let it continue or that people cannot even tell the difference between a Christ-centered and man-centered worship service.
     
  14. Luke2427

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    Exactly.

    _______
     
  15. Luke2427

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    Your last statement is enough in and of itself to repudiate such "worship" styles.

    The methods matter.

    In the Old Testament God not only told them WHAT to worship- he told them HOW.

    The WAY we handle the truth is important.

    We communicate as much with our mannerisms as we do with our words- sometimes more.

    This "Hey God..." business does not communicate an awesome and terrible God enshrouded in holiness and light before whom men fall down as dead and seraphim cover their eyes and feet and cry unto one another- HOLY! HOLY! HOLY!
     
  16. Sapper Woody

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    My last statement was said to basically say that in that scenario, I believe the message was lost. I think that you and I are closer to an agreement than you think we are.

    I said that the method doesn't bother me, as long as the message is retained. That qualifier "as long as" means that there is a method in which the message will be lost. I don't think we should have Eminem in our worship services, for instance. Even if we got him to give a clear gospel presentation, the entire message would be lost to the method.

    However, singing "Our God is an Awesome God". Now that's a grey area. If you are singing the chorus a bunch of times to bring the crowd to an emotional level, then the message is lost. However, if you sing it for the message it brings, then it can be an effective method of delivering the message of how awesome our God is.

    On the other hand, you can have a spit-fire preacher that preaches a prosperity gospel. The method is intact, but the message is lost still.

    Also included in the "method" category is using the internet, going door to door, street preaching, etc. Some of these were used in times of old. But the internet is a relatively new development.

    So, if people can be reached with a contemporary service, and people can be brought closer to God, I say let them have at it. Just don't lose the message while focusing on the method.
     
  17. Luke2427

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    I doubt it... because I already figured we were not far apart on it to begin with.:thumbsup:

    Absolutely right.

    I agree.

    I concur.

    Right.


    I am not against contemporary music. I really am not.

    I am not even against contemporary music being used tastefully in the primary worship service.

    However, atmosphere is VERY important in worship. Music is vital to setting the right atmosphere for the worship of Almighty God.

    EVERY generation has it's strengths and weaknesses in this area. The Gregorian chants of the the middle of the first millennium had the strengths of somberness, thoughtfulness (worshiping God with all your mind), a sense of transcendence (God's divine otherness), etc... It had the weaknesses of a deficiency of warmth, and a lack of a sense of God being personal, etc...

    The Reformation music of the middle of the second millennium had the strengths of God's bigness and might, majesty and power. It had the strength of theological instruction. It had the same weaknesses as the Gregorian chants.

    Today's music is largely warm and personal. These are strengths. Weaknesses of our generation's music is the deficiency in it to inspire fear and trembling before a massive, infinite, fearfully holy God. It fails- not altogether mind you, there are some songs coming out today that capture this - but it largely fails to create a sense of AWE- not of God's PERSONAL attributes; his COMMUNICABLE attributes- but of his INCOMMUNICABLE attributes.

    We certainly should be in AWE of his love and mercy and grace. But we are largely failing to be inspired to AWE of his power, holiness, omniscience, etc...

    So while we can, and perhaps SHOULD, sing some contemporary capitalizing on its strengths, we need to tap into the strengths of the old, big (as in bigness of God) music of the past as well.

    Each generation (or perhaps period would be better) has some things to bring to the table. Let's embrace all of these strengths.
     
    #17 Luke2427, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2012
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Very well said Rick.....I agree.

    So what do you think about the Emergent Church that caters to 20 & 30 something age groups with the Praise Rock Style bands. Indeed they aggressively advertise that as the music format. Bottom line, what is your opinion of churches that solicit one demographic and ignore the others?
     
  19. Luke2427

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    I think it is problematic to solicit ANY demographic with worship style.

    Worship ought to be the result of the pursuit of the best and most honorable and appropriate means of exalting the one true God.

    Worship should be about God. Worship should not be manipulated to serve evangelistic purposes.

    Whatever music, preaching, liturgy and atmosphere is most appropriate and exalting of the God who truly is (not the God who is JUST loving or the God who is JUST holy- but God as he truly is in all of his attributes) is the one we should pursue.

    If that doesn't appeal to punk rockers- too bad.
    If that doesn't appeal to the "red necks"- too bad.
    If that doesn't appeal to the intelligentsia- too bad.

    It's about God and not about man.

    A big problem we have in our culture is the USE of WORSHIP as a means of EVANGELISM.

    By mixing the two you undermine BOTH.
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

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    :thumbs: THANK YOU! :applause:
     

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