The Midlife Church Crisis – how churches marginalize anyone who is not married with young children and middle-agers are leaving church
I have linked to her material before. I am over 40, never married, never had any kids and noticed by my mid 30s that churches are far too fixated on “family” and children.
This married woman, Van Loon, didn’t notice until she reached her 40s or so and became an “empty nester” (her children grew up and moved out).
I have been saying on this blog for over a year now that many churches, especially Baptist and evangelical ones, tend to exclude every one, except for children and young married couples.
If you are over 30, still not married, or are married with no kids, or are divorced or widowed, you are not even thought to exist by most churches, or your needs are not ministered to.
Everyone is expected to support the 29 year old married couple who has a baby and a toddler.
I see no place in the Bible that permits such favoritism, the negligence, by churches, of entire groups of people (such as adult singles and widowers) to coddle one other group (young nuclear families), but this happens routinely in U.S. churches.
The thing I find sad or frustrating is that while never married, childless adults such as me spot by our mid 30s, or earlier, that churches are too fixated on married with children couples and how this creates all sorts of problems for adult singles and churches, but it takes such couples into their 40s -or older- and it takes their kids growing up and moving out on their own- for these married couples to begin to notice the same thing.
If you’re a 40- or 50- something woman whose kids have grown and gone, and are now just noticing how churches place the “traditional family” on a pedestal and ignore everyone else, welcome to the club. We older, never married, childless singles have known this for years and years and years.
- by Michelle Van Loon
- ….I’ve had one too many conversations with empty-nester peers about what it’s like to go to church once our kids are grown and gone. Our midlife crisis of faith came from questioning not our beliefs, but our role in the body of Christ.
When the bulletin is filled with announcements for mothers of preschoolers’ gatherings, family camping weekends, and Vacation Bible School, I know I’m welcome to lend a hand by baking muffins or doing crafts. I’ve gotten the message that, now that my own children have grown, my role is to support the real focus of the church: families.
Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.
- ….Anecdotally speaking, it seemed that those over age 40 who discovered meaningful service, worship, and connections reported that their church was committed to intergenerational ministry rather than family-centered, child-focused programming. Though there is some overlap between the two ministry philosophies, the congregations that concentrate on families with children under 18 unintentionally marginalize those who don’t fit the profile.
- … When we church leaders ape our culture’s obsession with all things young and cool—targeting the same desirable demographic groups as do savvy advertisers—we communicate to those who don’t fit those specs that they are less desirable.
- ((click here to read the rest))