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What's driving a youth movement in Miami churches? Not just prayer -- but 'action'

Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in Religious News

MIAMI -- What can get millennials and Gen Z-ers to pause Netflix and avoid Instagram?

For some teens and young adults, it’s the call of Jesus.

A 13-year-old says she found God through break-dancing. A 29-year-old who was “church hurt” is using music to help welcome others into his parish. And a group of college students said preparing food for the needy is the best way to spend a Friday night.

These young adults consider themselves a part of a growing youth movement in Miami seeking to build and strengthen a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Christianity, the two most important times of the year are Christmas Day, when believers celebrate the birth of Jesus, and Holy Week in April, when Christians recall the events leading up to Christ’s death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Religious leaders also have youth on their mind as they brainstorm ways to engage younger parishioners.

 

“In another age, faith was part of the air that you breathe and now that’s not necessarily the truth anymore,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who oversees the Archdiocese of Miami, said in an interview with the Miami Herald.

A Pew Research Center survey published in December found that 3 in 10 U.S. adults, or about 29%, self-identify as religiously unaffiliated, 6 percentage points more than in 2016. Pew suggests the trend is driven largely by young adults who are less likely than older generations to “identify with a religious group or partake in traditional religious practices.”

But faith leaders see a way to get young people reconnected. Even though youth groups and popular movements such as Encuentros Juveniles have existed for years, parishes are more focused than ever in reaching out to younger generations, Wenski said.

Technology, in some ways, has made it easier for young Christians to practice their faith and build faith-based relationships. There are Bible apps and livestream services. Christian dating apps. WhatsApp group chats. Social media. And online ministries.

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