Stop Overlooking Singles in Church By Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence
- This past August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of the adult population (older than age 16) is single—a statistic up from 37 percent in 1976. Is this represented in our congregations? When you scan your congregation during boring moments in the sermon (or if you’re behind the pulpit or microphone and you look out), who do you see?
- What is the single experience in the church today, and how can those of us who are married help the church become a more welcoming place to those among us who have never married or are divorced or widowed? Though it may seem like a difficult task, there are small, intentional ways we can include everyone in the church community fold.
Because I wed soon after college, I’ve spent little time in church as a single person.
However, I have had several lengthy conversations with friends like Karen and Kristie who shared with me experiences and ideas about singleness and the church, both as lay people and from current positions of pastoral leadership. Here’s what I learned about how married people in the church can better engage with our single sisters and brothers.
1. It Is Not Good for a Person to Be Alone
Perhaps you remember Genesis 2:18 from its frequent inclusion in wedding ceremonies: “It is not good for the man to be alone,” God says after he has created man and plants. God creates animals, but none of them are quite right. So God creates Eve. This text is often used to support God’s plan for human marriage, but I propose broadening it to include edifying human relationships in general. There is a huge difference between Adam and a single person: Adam was completely alone. He had no family or friends. And that was not good.
- But one thing churches can provide for all is community. We must be careful here, though—careful of the church’s tendency to create homogenous groups, excluding singles. For instance, many women’s Bible studies may take place during the day when a single woman may be at work.
- Or, perhaps, women’s ministry guest speakers may focus on marriage relationships. This can be alienating to single women. “You have to be more intentional to be in deep community when you are single,” Karen Hallberg, pastor at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says.
(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): “God’s gifting of singleness is rare” – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage -and- God gifts only the rare the exceptions the few with the gift of Marriage