By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, 7/19/2002 01:16
A high school senior and part-time cashier at a greeting card store, Jessica Gonzales may be part of the next big thing in religion.
She likes attending spiritual retreats with fellow San Antonio teens. She considers the youth ministers in her Roman Catholic parish her friends. She looks forward to attending church.
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Researchers raising the hopes of clergy everywhere say there are millions of young people like her from all religious backgrounds. The goal of this up-and-coming generation, the theory goes, is to be good.
Gonzales is part of the generation dubbed ”millennials,” children born starting in 1982, who researchers believe are more spiritual and less individualistic than their mostly baby-boomer parents.
Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the book “‘Millennials Rising,” say these young people also prefer group activities and want clear rules set for them a combination that seemingly guarantees they will be sitting in the pews as adults.
Some theologians have expressed concern that such generalizations will lead to ministries that market spirituality merely as an activity.
But many religious thinkers who follow youth trends agree with the findings, and have urged churches to do more to ensure the millennials fulfill their religious potential.
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