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Spiritual vs. religious

Churches across the country are using less religion and more spirituality to reach members. That's because more people are identifying themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious," particularly Millennials, people who are between the ages of 18 and 30. But the debate centers on the distinction between the two terms, as well as what it means to be "spiritual but not religious."

Experts say, generally, people who prefer the term "spiritual" reject organized religion. But in recent years, people of traditional faiths, including Christians, say "spiritual" better describes their faith.

Alisha Fuller, for example, reads her bible regularly and prefers the term spiritual. She is of Christian faith but says there's a stigma associated with the word, religion.

"It does carry this baggage with it and that's the bad part. I believe that's one reason why so many people now don't try to relate themselves to anything because there's always baggage with these words," Fuller says.

Katrina Dunkin says she understands the difference but{} neither term works when describing her faith."To say I'm religious or spiritual, for me, that doesn't say anything about my relationship with God. I like to say that I'm a Christian," Dunkin says.But some Christians and other faith groups are turning to a spiritual banner of worship. In fact, the Spiritual Directors International Group reports record growth in membership. Organizers tell ABC 33/40 that since starting in 1980, they've grown to more than 6,000 members in 53 countries. A large part of that growth is driven by Millennials.{} Samford University minister Matthew Kerlin says some college students see organized religion as hypocritical or too focused on money and politics. But he says the distinction between spiritual and religious, although popular, is impossible to make.

"Spiritual means I think about things of ultimate importance, of value and God, the meaning and purpose of life. Religious means I engage in behaviors relating to my spiritual interest," Kerlin says.

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