(I posted this to a previous entry but it’s so good, I wanted it to have its own page. Click “More” to read the entire post. I have looked at the HTML behind this post and cannot figure out why the blog is displaying the font at such a huge size.)
Q. You say that today’s churches are set up to minister to whole families, but not so much to singles and women. What are singles and women experiencing at church today?
Women are slotted into childcare jobs and maybe ushers or the choir – or the worship team, as it’s called today.
But women like me, who are seminary-educated, are given no place to teach. The offer is never extended. Ditto for other women who are lawyers, accountants, etc., who know things that could be of some benefit to the body of Christ. These women are underused at best. Or they are told they can only minister to other women.
When you’re used to be treated equally in the job market, it’s like entering a time warp when you go to church and are told that who you are is dependent on who or what your husband is.
Women whose husbands are elders or ministers have more freedom to exercise ministry, but all other women aren’t given much of a chance.
What’s also galling is how so many women are treated like sexual temptresses. I get tired of pastors telling me they cannot be alone with me and can’t meet me for coffee somewhere, while it’s OK if they get together with a male parishioner.
Thus, I never get to network or exchange ideas with the pastor – I (and other women) simply lose out. We have to rely on our husbands – if we have one – to advance our cause in church.
As for singles, there’s 100 million of us out there, and we are the largest unreached demographic there is. Most churches tolerate us but do not want to expend any time or money ministering to us. Any extra funds goes toward youth ministry.
The singles over 35 are especially unwanted – and this is a group that earns substantial income, but also has some real needs.
Yet, they never hear sermons pertaining to their station in life while getting hit 24/7 with all sorts of spiritual attacks, ranging from depression or loneliness to unmet sexual desires.
Many churches focus on threats to the family, but they never consider the battles so many are facing to even form a family.
A lot of singles are waking up and walking out of churches that only minister to couples with children (the church I left was one of those), but many others are still lingering at their churches, praying that some godly mate will show up. Walk into your typical evangelical church and you will find next to no single men who are, say, over 30. They don’t exist.
They’re either married or not in church.
It’s a mess out there, but your typical parish priest or minister is totally clueless to the hellish choice most Christian single women face: Either marry someone who is not a believer at all, or stay single.
Or even if the clergy are not clueless about this situation, they don’t care to help resolve it.
Q. For as long as I can remember, evangelical churches have been stressing the need to be “relevant” to American culture. You say they’ve failed on this front–that they are out of touch. How has this happened, and what can be done about it?
Relevancy means speaking to the true battles people are facing in terms of depression, exhaustion, joblessness, inability to connect with God, etc. I do not see most pastors at all in touch with how the majority of their listeners have no idea how to hear from God. This should be a top priority.
Relevancy is understanding what your typical parishioner goes through; everything from killer rush hours to family breakdowns. One wonders if pastors lead real lives. I think many are isolated from what the rest of us face; thus, I rarely if ever take notes in church any more, because there’s rarely anything insightful in the typical sermon.
Part of the problem is that pastors do not want to admit that much of Christianity does not work. So many of the promises in Scripture simply don’t come true, and people cannot wrap their minds around that contradiction. Now, there are ways around this, but it’s the rare pastor who gets it that people are struggling with what their lives are like and what the Bible stays – and the wide gulf in between.
Speaking to those hard spots would be so helpful.