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The Kids are Alright

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Re-Thinking Problem-Based Approaches to Adolescent Spirituality

image of Journal of Youth and Theology

Discussions of adolescence and youth spirituality often focus primarily on the problems that need to be fixed in youth or their context. This essay draws upon positive youth development theory, which asserts that youth are much more than problems or at-risk. It affirms that all youth have resources that can be developed and contributions to make to their communities. This essay reviews the pervasiveness of problem-based approaches in the larger society and contemporary research on the religious lives of youth. It also calls theologians and youth workers to contribute to the shifting perspective of youth by re-imaging youth spiritual maturity as more than “adult like” and to offer a theology of adolescence which explicitly affirms youth engagement as partners with God, right now.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor of Religious Education, Yale University Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut, USA,


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