Seeking spirituality in the age of the religiously unaffiliated

Do I Look Like a “None” to You? Seeking spirituality in the age of the religiously unaffiliated

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What does spirituality mean to you? It’s a question we’ve been thinking a lot about since we began our work on Vennly, an audio-focused spiritual health app that aims to create a safe space for users to seek inspiration and guidance from spiritual and community leaders on a variety of life topics.

Like millions of young adults across the U.S., we had not formally engaged with a place of worship, or its leadership, in a really long time. According to Pew Research, we were a part of a growing cohort – the “nones” – the 35% of American Millennials who consider themselves to be unaffiliated religiously. With our new label now in hand, we realized that “none” really didn’t describe us at all. Just because we’re unaffiliated did not mean we didn’t still crave perspective, guidance, and wisdom. Discussions among our friends, many of whom had grown up with exposure to multiple cultures, traditions, and orientations – and who now found themselves in interfaith relationships, multicultural relationships, or non-normative relationships – revealed that a better word for us is the “multis.” Formal and consistent participation in a congregation wasn’t right for us for many different reasons. But as we experienced critical moments in our lives, such as marriage, parenting, dealing with the loss of a loved one, divorce, non-fulfilling jobs, it became clear that we still needed help making sense of the world around us.  

Our conversations with faith leaders only further confirmed the “spirituality gap.”  As congregants age out or simply don’t show up, too many places of worship are struggling to keep the lights on. Yet, one of the most illuminating insights for us since we started Vennly is that, according to our spiritual leaders, they have done more pastoral counseling in the past 18 months than they have over their career due to the unrelenting news cycle and political climate. So while many congregations fight to keep the lights on, our spiritual leaders’ wisdom and guidance have never been in more demand.

Later this year, we will be launching the Vennly app, which brings together some of the most dynamic spiritual and community leaders across traditions and backgrounds in a vetted and safe environment. As paradigms that have been truths for centuries are changing right in front of us, we understand that the world of spirituality is evolving too.  However you choose to define your spirituality, our mission is simply to provide wisdom and guidance to those who are seeking, in an inclusive and judgment-free way.

The name Vennly is inspired by the Venn diagram, and it represents different perspectives coming together in one place. Our members will be able to follow spiritual leaders or search by topic area, and our audio based “Perspectives” will focus on actionable, universal themes.

Our promise to you is to be thoughtful, intentional, and purposeful in the content and product that we create and to stay committed to the tenet that we are better together.  

All are welcome.

With gratitude,

Brian and Dan