One need only look around in churches on any given Sunday to see that millennials are missing. Why?
Many search for and offer answers and suggestions. One such recent study offered five research-backed reasons why millennials have stopped attending church. They feel that
- the church is fake;
- the church is exclusive;
- the church doesn’t care about their community;
- the church is aggressive and hyper-critical;
- the church ignores the big issues.
It is tempting for us to hide behind the abstract “the church” and wring our hands about what needs to be done without looking at ourselves.
A path forward from the past
Vincent’s five virtues might offer us a challenge to move us forward. But we might need to retranslate the virtues in terms of the values millennials hunger for. Father Ed Udovic does just that in a video on Vincentian values.
Seeking the truth wherever it is to be found, recognizes the truth when found, witnesses to the truth in word, and lives the truth by actions as they relate to oneself, one’s neighbor, one’s my world and one’s God.
Having a personal availability in relationships that are authentic, and thus inviting, inclusive, accepting, understanding. equal and loving
Being self- disciplined and absolutely clear about what one believes, what one value and what are the priorities in one’s life. Following a self-discipline that will enable one to live these values in a consistent, integrated and effective manner.
Committed to realism which means I must always creatively balance the inherent tensions between pessimism and optimism knowing full well what I and other human beings are capable of and not capable of and gratefully relying on God’s grace and providence as the sustaining force of our lives and indeed all salvation history
Hard working (Zeal for souls)
Being hard working. There always. much to be done in the kingdom of God and what remains to be done both personally and corporately is not easily accomplished without laboring with the “strength of our arms and sweat of our brows (St. VIncent).”
Looking at ourselves
I do not think it requires much of a stretch of the imagination to see how a church characterized by people living these values might appeal to millennials and “nones.” But that church begins with you and me. The more I think of it, Vincent was on to something. Living these virtues would explain why so many people have come to follow his way of life over the past 400 years.
A basic question for each of us
- How does my life manifest these Vincentian values?