Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts

Single Adults Why They Stay and Why They Stray (from church) Book Excerpts

Note: several questionable people have roles in this book, in the form of editing, or as contributors, such as…

    – a gender complementarian, Wayne Grudem; gender complementarianism (Link):

is not biblical

    ;
    -neither is “biblical counseling,” yet Edward T. Welch, who is a “biblical counselor” also had some kind of role in this book,
    – C. J. Mahaney – accused of being involved in a ten year cover up of child sexual abuse at his churches,

so I offer this link with a caveat.

The author of the particular chapter I am quoting seems okay, and I don’t see too much that I disagree with in his chapter.

What is really funny is that this book (I’m not sure when it was published, I am just now finding it today), echoes many of the things I’ve said on this blog before.

Edit: this book was published in 2003, but this is the first I am seeing it, or reading excerpts from it. It is incredible how the author noticed most of the same disturbing anti-singles views and trends that I have in this blog the last three years.

As I am a NEVER MARRIED woman, I am not going to present the full section under “divorce” in the chapter. You can visit the link to read it if you want.

The following is available for free on Google Books (this particular book is entitled “Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood”) :
(Link): Single Adults in Your Ministry: Why They Stay and Why They Stray
by Dick Purnell

    … Do you know how many single adults sit in your congregation each Sunday? Recently I was speaking in a church to three thousand people. I asked for all the people who were unmarried and twenty-two years old or older to stand up. Over a thousand people stood up! The audience was surprised and gasped at the large number…

Do you realize that the number of single adults in America exceeds the total national population of all but eleven of the world’s 192 nations? How shocked would you be to discover that the number of single parents is greater than the entire population of Colorado and Tennesse combined?

According to the 2000 U.S. census 40 percent of all adults eighteen and older (forty-eight million) are single. We are seeing a tremendous shift in American social values.

The median age of a first-time marriage is now twenty-five among women and twenty-seven among men. The fastest growing family type is single parents.

If your church is in an urban area, the percentage of single adults near you is much higher than a rural area. Singles gravitate to the cities for jobs, things to do, and others to meet. They are searching for connection and community.

They are often afraid of loneliness, commitment, and isolation. Most of those under thirty have never been married. The average age of a married person’s first divorce is thirty-four. That means after years of marriage, they are thrown back into the dating scene. They feel awkward and unprepared. They face the same relationship challenges that teens face, but they feel out of place.

One woman said to me, “I am now single, but I feel married. I don’t want to be single, but that was forced on me.” They have been out of the dating world for so long that they have very little idea what to do. And no one is helping them or even having a discussion about some of these issues.

Most singles are invisible to churches.

… They represent every economic stratum you can imagine – everything from presidents of major corporations to the unemployed and all in between. Fifty-three percent of all unchurched adults are single.

But our churches are built on a mind-set of marriage, and singles are often neglected. They are the “Great Invisible Mission Field.” However, businesses are very aware of singles. If you look at the advertising on television or in magazines, you will find that a huge number of ads are geared to attract single people.

Sports clothing, beer, cell phones, and a myriad of other products are marketed to singles. They have the largest amount of discretionary income. But the church in general has a difficult time attracting them and capturing their attention and commitment.

Many single adults believe that the church excludes and ignores them. They feel like the church is either neglecting them or is just not interested in them. So single adults vote with their feet. They come to church for a few months or years; but when their needs are not addressed or they never hear a sermon addressed to their unique issues, they fade away and go somewhere else – or stop going to church altogether. They hear sermons preached on topics such as “How to be a Godly Husband” or “Becoming a Godly Wife.” But they have never heard a sermon on “How to be a Godly Single Adult.”

… [Singles] don’t stay because there is no emotional glue to keep them there. They are not the “squeaky wheel” that is going to ask the pastor to give a sermon directed toward them or to pound on the door of the budget meeting pressuring for more funding. They just fade away.

Are you desperate to attract single adults to your ministry and get them involved? Here is my top ten list on “Why Single Adults Are Turned Off by the Church.”

Number 10: Frivolous jokes degrade the single lifestyle.
Grandparents, pastors, and married friends all have jokes about singles. All the married people laugh, but the single buries the snub under a weak smile.

I was single for forty-two years. When I served as an assistant pastor in my middle thirties, I heard lots of good-natured jokes, but often the ribbing was not funny to me. “Hey, are you afraid to take the responsibility for a mate?” Here I was in charge of several significant ministries in the church, and they tell me I’m afraid to take responsibility?

“Maybe you are just too picky. Are you looking for a perfect wife?” In other words, if you lower your standards you may get somebody.

“You’re not getting any younger, you know.” That was supposed to pressure me to get moving? Sometimes I would get the big one: “What are you waiting for?” Like I better hurry up before I miss the “right one.” But isn’t there a sovereign God? His timing may not be my timing – or the timing of the people who ask me to hurry up.

In trying to encourage me, people would give what I call romantic testimonies: “I finally gave everything to God, and six months later I found the right one.” But I was forty years old and had been a full-time minister for over fifteen years.

Was there something I had not given up to God that some married twenty-year-old ha already given up to God? All the marriage formulas that people give singles may be individual experience they had, but those formulas are not normative for all believers. Why should I seek the holy grail of marriage if God wants me to be content in every situation?

After four years as a pastor, I resigned from my church. Even though I was no longer was the pastor, I continued to attend the church. A single female friend of mine from Kansas came to our city one weekend to visit some of her college buddies. I brought her to the 11 A.M. church service. As we were walking down the aisle, an elderly usher led us to a front row for seating. The organ was softly playing and everybody was kind of quiet. When we stopped to turn into the row, he handed my friend a bulletin and said to me loudly so most of the people could hear, “Hey Dick, when are you going to marry her?” I wanted to die right there, but first I wanted to punch his lights out.

These kinds of jokes will not attract singles to your church! No way! They degrade single life as if the only bright future is for married people. That idea is not found in the Bible. Even the apostle Paul stated that an unmarried person can have undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32-35). He did not consider singleness a joking matter.

Number 9: Church leadership is mainly interested in the interests and needs of married people.
The pastor and leaders are usually all married with very little significant empathy or understanding of the unique needs and concerns of single adults.

Single Christians are rarely eligible to be members of the governing board. There are very few single senior pastors. The silent criterion of marriage eliminates singles from serving in many aspects of the typical church. If you carry that to a logical conclusion, the Apostle Paul would not be qualified to be a pastor or elder. Even Timothy would be shut out of the opportunity for leadership.

After four years as an assistant pastor, I wanted to become a senior pastor. I had a total of fifteen years experience in the ministry and two Master’s degrees. However, when I sent in my resumes, not one church ever asked me to candidate, because I had to write on the front page of the resume my marital status: “Single.” Who wants a senior pastor who is single?

It was a bitter experience. I was unqualified to be a senior pastor of a church because I did not have the “Mrs.” degree. Many men graduating from seminary have tremendous pressure put on them. If they want to rise above the level of youth pastor, they must be married. Why is marriage the unspoken golden key that unlocks the door to pastor advancement?

Number 8: Budgeted funds for single ministry are usually inadequate or nonexistent.
Many churches don’t budge anything for singles. When the churches that have budgeted some funds for singles ministry must cut the budget somewhere, the singles ministry often is the one that gets the ax. “Singles are adults – they can handle it,” the budget committee says. But the message that gets across is, “You are not as important as other people in our church.”

… The message the singles hear is loud and cleaer: “You are the lowest on the totem pole. Your needs come last. You are not worth our paying a minister who can meet your needs.” Therefore, singles respond with their feet. They say, “I’m out of here.”

Number 7: Singles feel the church neglects them.
They feel like barnacles on the side of the church ship – there but forgotten. Marriage is espoused as the norm, and singles just don’t fit the model.

I have conducted over three hundred single adult conferences throughout America, Canada, and twelve other countries. Yet only nine senior pastors stopped by to observe and/or greet the crowd.

The even was in their church, in their building, and these are adults. I remember each of the nine because they are so rare….

Number 6: There is a perception that single adults are morally loose.

If a person is not married by mid-twenties, there is something wrong, it is generally thought. A particular church was in the process of trying to hire a youth pastor. Since they could not find one for over a year, they held a congregational meeting to explain the progress they were making. The elder in charge presented all kinds of reasons for the delay in locating the right person for the position. At the end of his explanation, I stopped up and asked, “Does the person you are looking for have to be married?”

You could have heard a pin drop on the carpet. People gasped. It was the unthinkable question. The elder hemmed, and he hawed, and he slithered all over the platform. All I wanted was a yes or no. He was very obviously unnerved by my question. Finally some lady in the very back said, “What we need is a role model for the young girls. So I think he should be married.”

“You mean to tell me, in this entire congregation there is not one woman who’s a role model for the girls?” Silence.

“I tell you what I think the real reason is. You are afraid that a single pastor would be sexually frustrated and have sex with one of the teenage girls. Out of all the pastors I have known personally, four have had affairs and left the ministry in disgrace. Each of them was married. Almost all the other pastors I have read about in magazines and books who have committed adultery were married. True, married people do not have a corner on the market in becoming immoral. But you should not be prejudiced against a single adult simply because he is single.”

I tried to tell them that some of the best youth pastors in America are single. I wasn’t a very popular guy after that. The elders eventually hired a youth pastor. Yes, he was married.

Some churches won’t allow singles to teach Sunday school for fear these men and women will succumb to sexual temptation. That is unfounded fear. We all need the power of God to overcome temptation. Don’t single out single people as the most likely to succumb. That is unfair and inaccurate. Single adults want to be respected and trusted. Let them show by their faithfulness that they have a genuine relationship with God.

Number 5: Marriage is portrayed as normal for everybody.
If someone is not married by thirty something, there must be something wrong with him or her.
(please click on the “continue reading/ read more” link to see rest of the post. Thank you)

Continue reading “Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts”

People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Death of a Spouse

People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Death of a Spouse

I’ve read women on other sites mention that while they were married, other married couples would befriend them, hang out with them.

The moment their spouse died (it’s usually the husband – when a wife dies, people tend to show more care and concern for a widower), they say they are instantly persona non grata, to the point that married friends at church don’t so much as say “hello” when they pass in the hall way in church.

I have heard one exception: one adult, never married Christian lady said she noticed that when a woman in church husband died that the church rallied ’round that woman to act as a “surrogate” husband, where the men in the church traded off mowing her lawn, changing the oil in her car for her, etc, and the women in her church brought the newly widowed woman food, etc.

The never-married Christian woman wondered why in the hell churches aren’t that freaking supportive of women who have never married. She never had anyone at her church offer to change the oil in her car, or bring her a meal, and she would have appreciated the occasional help.

I have no idea either, why churches will help one type of person and not another… it’s like after my family member died, I was very broken over it, but the Christians I met, that I confided in for understanding and for comfort treated me like crap, but sat there and cried tears for women in homeless shelters. And these were not women they knew personally, but only saw once a month

You’d think if a Christian is going to show compassion to ‘People Group A’ that they would be equally compassionate of ‘People Group B,’ and everyone around them equally, but no, Christians feel only certain types of people deserve mercy, pity, and help.

If you are not in their preferred “Group O Victim,” they will tell you insensitive bullsh*t like, “stop having a pity party!,” “just think of how orphans in Africa have life worse than you,” and religious platitudes like, “read your Bible more.” No mercy, no compassion, just lectures, insults, and platitudes.

But the majority of anecdotes I’ve encountered are the first variety: the husband dies, and over night, the church ignores the new widow.

The newly widowed woman becomes an outcast the minute her spouse dies. No more invites from former married couple friends.

It is really disgusting to me how society, even Christians, treat people based on marital status.

People who are never married or widowed are not diseased and do not carry cooties, for the love of God. But singles are often treated like total lepers by Christians.

I don’t think the marrieds who don’t even stop to consider the crap singles go through realize that their husband could drop dead tomorrow from a car wreck or something (which is what happened to one aunt of mine, leaving her single in her 50s).

Even if your husband drops dead of natural causes in his 70s – 80s, you will probably out live him and be alone then.

So it might behoove you, you who are currently married, to start advocating for singles around you now, because you will be single again some day – and when you are, do you want to be ignored by the church?

Or, if they noticed you at all, do you want Christians treating you like you’re a temptress Jezebel out to steal all married men?

Do you want them telling you that singles aren’t as qualified to lead Sunday School as marrieds, so they give you nothing to do? Do you want to be left out of weekend dinners hosted by a married couple merely because you are single?

Because that will be your reality WHEN your husband dies. Not “if,” but WHEN.

The moment your spouse dies, your current married friends will drop you like a hot potato. No more dinner invitations from them.

Then you will start to notice how the church has no special programs or ministries for singles. You will start to notice how churches isolate and ostracize the un-married.

And if you’re a man, you will also be ignored or treated to insults by churches when your wife dies, should you out live your wife.

(Though in my opinion, widowers are treated a bit better than widows. For whatever reason, churches feel more sorry for a man who loses his spouse, than for a woman who loses hers. I have no idea why in the hell there is a discrepancy there, but it exists. I don’t know why churches think males deserve more help and compassion than ladies).

Here is the story about a Christian woman whose husband died, and she found herself single later in life.

(Link): Second Singlehood: A Time to Blossom, by Diane Marty

    Guest post by Diane Marty

    [Bella’s intro: This guest post by Diane Marty is the story of how she transformed herself from a person devastated by the death of her husband and the prospect of become single anew at 67, to the person others pointed to as a model of how to embrace second singlehood.
    Diane writes in more of a literary style than a blog post style, which I welcome. She has offered us a mini-memoir of becoming single again and I thank her for that. I also particularly liked her point in the second-to-last paragraph about the kinds of events that single people feel comfortable attending.]

    …the memory of my own experience with widowhood and transitioning back to the single life had flooded into my mind.

    My husband had been dead about a year when the world seemed to come crashing down upon me one day in May of 2008. My five year old Chevy truck had broken down and I was staring at a repair bill over seventeen hundred dollars. My husband always did all the repairs on our vehicles. He was a skilled mechanic and I hadn’t realized how much money he’d saved us over the years. Registering and maintaining two vehicles was expensive and I was in a quandary as to whether or not I should get rid of the truck. My small car was good on gas but the truck with its four-wheel drive was safer for Michigan winter driving. What to do?

    … And then even the weather that May had turned ugly and I had trees down on my property and I’d been without electric power going on the third day. My freezer full of food was defrosting and that was a loss I didn’t need on top of the expense with the truck. If only my husband were alive, I thought, he’d fix the truck, and he’d hook up his welder/generator for power and we’d get through this together. But he wasn’t alive and I went to bed yet another night crying myself to sleep.

    …Though I had some lingering doubts about the ease of returning to the single life at age sixty-seven, I left my house that afternoon ignited with a fresh verve for life.

    …I had a second chance to nurture my individual personhood but I wasn’t sure I knew how to go about it. Those of us raised in the self-sacrificial Christian tradition were taught to suppress individual desires during the coupled years when the needs of the conjoined entity, the couple, are paramount. [ALL Christians get this message that is is sinful or selfish to get their needs met, not just married women — Christian Pundit].

    But I was another entity now—a widowed, newly single-again woman, uncoupled and free to make new choices. All I had to do was figure out how to re-enter the blazing sunlight of unrestricted freedom my regained singlehood offered without getting burnt.

    As I re-evaluated my options from my new perspective as a woman in late-life singlehood, I decided that the quickest and safest way to re-enter that narrow gate into a happy Singledom was to follow the joiner road leading to any group whose activities, interests and philosophy matched my own. I adopted a pro-active attitude knowing I had to take responsibility for myself—that no one was coming to take me by the hand. I began by joining groups open to everyone,

    investigating how the people in each one treated each other and interacted with each other, mindful of my first requirement that people be accepted and valued as individuals.

    What I found confirmed that I’d made a wise choice in gravitating toward groups. It became clear to me that singles congregated in groups precisely because groups are made up of singles!

You can read the rest (Link): here

America’s Exodus from Marriage (copy)

America’s Exodus from Marriage

source:
commentarymagazine.com/2013/01/17/americas-exodus-from-marriage/

Some excerpts (with a few observations by me below this; click “read more” to read the entire post):

by Peter Wehner
Jan 17, 2013

…This study [“The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent,” which is the centerpiece of the latest State of Our Unions report”] focused on the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school but do not have a four-year college degree.

What we’re seeing is a rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America–with 44 percent of the children of moderately-educated mothers born outside of marriage. “We’re at a tipping point with Middle America,” W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading scholar on marriage, told National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage.”

We are “witnessing a striking exodus from marriage,” according to the study.
Continue reading “America’s Exodus from Marriage (copy)”

How Christians and Churches Can Be of Help to Older Singles (copy)

One caveat about this post below (originally by a New Zealand author) that I am copying: the author seems to suggest if you are still single past a certain age, it’s because you are ugly. I disagree. I am attractive. I have had males (including Non Christian men who did not know I am a Christian) see my photo at a friend’s house and a sister’s house and request to be set up on dates with me.

I’ve been “hit on” by Non Christian men. So my looks are not the problem – sometimes a person can be very attractive but yet not meet the right mate. Being pretty is not a guarantee of getting a man or of keeping one. Look at movie stars such as Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe: beautiful women and considered sexy by most, but they each kept getting divorced.

I also disagree with this author’s assertion that loss over being an infertile married couple who wants kids is tougher than suffering from loss over never being married but wanting marriage – sometimes I’m okay with being single, but sometimes my grief over missing it far, far out weighs the pain of any infertile woman who misses having a child. That woman at least has a spouse. I have nobody.

TALK DOWN – Preparing for singleness when you’d much rather be preparing for marriage

by By Ross Clark

Source:

singleness.org/talkdown.shtml

… Go to any Christian bookshop and you will find a mass of books on the big issue, the life-changing decision of getting married, and how you should prepare for it. But books on the single life are much harder to come by.

For many, the process of coming to terms with being single is ferociously difficult, yet there is little help to be found in the Church. Pastors spend much time helping faltering marriages. Helping a faltering single is a lesser priority. Why? Shouldn’t we be thinking of how we prepare some people for the single life, specially when their own natural inclinations lie in other directions?

Not every Christian single makes it—too many of the older singles drop out of our churches, and/or marry unbelievers. We need to ask what the churches can do to help Christian singles, because the problem of unreasonable and unrealised expectations which many singles struggle with has its roots in the churches’ own Teaching.

The Glittering Prize

What messages are we giving our teenagers and singles?

Gather a group of fourteen year-olds from any church scene and make them our reference group. Put them in one place, and the conversation will eventually turn to relationships and romance. Given the age, immaturity, and emotional state of the people concerned, that is hardly surprising. But what’s a youth leader to do?

The Biblical standard—no sex outside of marriage — is absolutely clear, and youth leaders work hard to teach it. Generally, they will say something like, “trust God, and he will have his best for you. Save yourself for marriage, it’s your loss if you don’t. God blesses those who trust him.” Or, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Somewhat out of context, Jer 29:11 will get a look-in.

Dating, at any age, is often described as “not really God’s will. Instead, trust him to bring you his choice for you.” Or — and without any Biblical justification — “God already has someone for you, if you just trust in him”. A variant on this is, “Yield your rights and God will have just the right person for you”.

When the issue of sexuality is confronted, dire warnings are given to anyone who would threaten to cross the line, generally raising the obvious threats of STDs and pregnancy. Later on, the concern shifts to Christians who ‘live in sin’, and all sorts of horror stories will be trotted out about what happens to the Christians who do so.

And so a very powerful expectation is created concerning marriage: it is made to appear the ‘glittering prize’, God’s blessing for doing the right thing, particularly in facing off sexual temptation. The teaching that obedience will inevitably be accompanied by the appropriate blessing — generally, a good marriage, family and status amongst the people of God — further cements this judgment. That this becomes part of the “success fantasy” foisted on people (the term is Tony Campolo’s) is not even realised.
Continue reading “How Christians and Churches Can Be of Help to Older Singles (copy)”

The Church Needs A Different View of Sex and Singleness (copy)

THE CHURCH NEEDS A DIFFERENT VIEW OF SEX & SINGLENESS

Originally posted to:

goodwomenproject.com/sex/the-church-needs-a-different-view-of-sex-singleness#idc-cover

Excerpts (by Leigh Kramer, from 2010):

….You see, I am a rare breed. Some might even say an endangered species. I’m a 31-year-old virgin. Rest easy. I’m not dating anyone right now, nor am I going to bed with the next guy I encounter. I’m committed to seeing my virginity through to marriage or death. Whichever comes first.

…I’m not ashamed of my virgin status, but I don’t broadcast either. Most people assume that I have had sex because that is true of most women in their 30′s. Abstinence, chastity, whatever you want to call it, is no longer the norm.

I honestly never thought I’d still be single at this point in my life. I can’t help but wonder if I would have made the same choices had I known what lay ahead.

Does that shock you? It shocks me a little. We live in an age where premarital sex is accepted and often expected. It’s difficult to be countercultural when it comes to sex. There are even churches that don’t take a hard line on the matter.

Grace and forgiveness are extended to those who had premarital sex – and rightly so. Secondary virginity is an option. On the other hand, I’ve had friends that purposely had sex knowing they’d ask for forgiveness later.

Then there’s me. I love finding other ‘older’ virgins. Solidarity and all that. But also because I want to know why they waited and continue to wait. What do they do on the hard days?

Because hard days, or weeks, happen. Sex is best reserved for marriage but it’s hard being the odd woman out. I fervently hope I’ll be able to experience sex in the context of marriage someday. Now is the time to do the work of being faithful so that when I am in a relationship, regardless of my boyfriend’s sexual history, I will not falter.

I’m not alone in this. The church must start having a different conversation about sex and singleness. Here are a few suggestions of what I’d like to see.

1. Explore the framework of chastity.

Telling people to save sex for marriage is not enough when marriage isn’t a guarantee. Chastity is a way of life, looking at our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s not solely focused on the physical act of sex. We need to get away from “how far is too far” and move toward respecting ourselves (and our partners) as men and women made in the image of Christ.

3. Don’t teach that sex is a reward.

First, it’s not the best way to motivate someone toward obedience. This might also explain why many Christians marry young, only to divorce later. Marriage is about more than sex. Second, what message does that send to those who are obedient but don’t receive the ‘reward’? Have I somehow been a bad virgin? I don’t worship a God who would punish people in this way.

4. Don’t elevate marriage over singleness (or vice-versa).

The amount of people who are single, divorced, or widowed is roughly equal to those who are married in most congregations. Yet sermons tend to be directed toward those who are married and parenting. This leaves a good portion of the congregation feeling left out – and these are the unattached who continue to go to church. Many simply choose not to go anymore. We all have much to learn from each other, no matter what our stage of life.

[5. Include the unmarried]

Married folks, please support the single people in your life. Let them be a part of your family gatherings but also schedule one-on-one time as well. Single folks, identify the people in the trenches with you and continue to build those relationships. Having support in place now means you’re more likely to be ready when temptation hits.

American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

Source:
(WWW.)christianpost.com/news/pew-for-one-how-is-the-church-responding-to-growing-number-of-singles-70586/

Before I paste in excerpts from most of the article, I wanted to comment on this part of it first:

“Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”

I addressed that very point in a previous post (-HERE-). Focusing on marriage constantly does NOT encourage singles to want marriage more.

The problem is most unmarried American Christian adults already want to be married, but they cannot find suitable people to date! And while they remain unmarried, they are having struggles and issues that married people do not always face, such as a more intense struggle with loneliness, along with other issues.

For a pastor to keep harping on marriage week in and week out, as most do in their services or literature and blogs, only alienates unmarried adults further, and it’s also painful for some, for it’s like eating a bag of potato chips and chocolate cake in front of a friend who you know likes junk food but who is on a diet.

It’s very cruel to constantly throw something in someone’s face that they want but cannot have, obtain, or achieve – yet most Southern Baptists, conservative churches, and evangelicals continue to do this very thing in regards to marriage vs. singlehood to the long term unmarried and celibate.

Here’s more from the article:

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

By Sarah Hamaker , Christian Post Contributor
February 29, 2012

One can be the loneliest number, especially in the church. Today, there are more singles in the United States than at any other time in history – 43.6 percent of the U.S. adult population are unmarried, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

“The number of single adults in the United States has been rapidly approaching the number of married adults, and this is an unprecedented culture shift that is dramatic,” says Barry Danylak, author of Redeeming Singleness. “This is not an American phenomena – it is seen in nearly all of the modernized and industrialized nations.”

The church, long welcoming to married with children congregants, has been slower to adjust to this demographic shift. “At least 80 percent of every denomination do not have a targeted ministry to single adults,” says Dennis Franck, national director for Single Adult/Young Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God denomination, headquartered in Springfield, Mo. “However, the majority of churches are not trying to exclude singles, but they are more marriage and family focused, which means singles are not acknowledged very often.

The Rev. Alan Fretto, a single senior in Danbury, Conn., points out, “The church is geared toward children, women and couples. There is very little in most churches for singles, and yet singles dominate the church population. Singles need to be encouraged and included in the process of the church, and should be considered a valuable asset to the church.”

Readjusting Focus

Many churches have yet to formally acknowledge singles in their midst, either with targeted ministries or inclusion in preaching or teaching illustrations and examples. “Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”
Continue reading “American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People”

Single Christian Women Have No Protection according to some preachers

Single Christian Women Have No Protection according to some preachers

I’m watching pastor Jeff Schreve on his weekly series, “From His Heart Ministries” giving a sermon on marriage today. Schreve seems like a sincere pastor and an all around nice guy, but he seems to believe in male headship, and as (Link): I am a biblical egalitarian, I don’t share his view on that matter.

However, another thing Schreve is talking about that I find disturbing: he said in part of this sermon that a woman is under the protection of her mom and dad until she marries, then she is “under the protection of her husband” when she marries. The Bible does not teach this concept, not in the New Testament.

((edit): This teaching also sounds eerily like Reconstructionist / Quiverfull teachings, see: (Link): Christian Patriarchy Group: God Demands You Marry and Have Babies to Defeat Paganism and Satan. Singles and the Childless Worthless (in this worldview))

Problem: I am in my early 40s, pastor Schreve, and never married. I am single, a Christian woman. So who is my “protection,” pastor Schreve?

I am not the only one, there are many, many Christian women my age and older who have never married, and a lot of them live alone, work jobs, and pay rent alone.

Who is our “protector”? If you say God, Holy Spirit, or Christ, I don’t get it – would that same answer also not be true for married women? Why would a woman’s “protector” go from Father, Spirit and Son to husband just because she marries??

(Edit.) I watched the following Sunday’s sermon, where this same pastor did a topic about the role of women. I don’t recall everything he talked about, but I do remember he once again neglected to mention women over the age of 35 who have never married or had kids.

Schreve again mentioned how there is no higher calling for a woman than to raise children (although, again, the Bible does not teach either concept, but actually holds (Link): singleness and being childfree in higher esteem and no, the Bible does not teach that God “calls” some to singleness, either, so a preacher cannot brush this off by saying, “It’s okay for YOU to be single if God called you to be” – I have addressed these unbiblical views in other posts, so I shall not get into them here – see some of the links at the bottom of this post for more).

See also, on this blog:

(Link): Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother

Some married women are infertile and unable to have a baby: how do you suppose it makes THEM feel to hear that their only God-approved role in life is to crank out a kid, if they want one, and are unable to have one? And neither should women who choose NOT to reproduce, though they are capable, be made to feel ashamed of this, or judged, or condemned.

Schreve basically said that it’s “best” for a woman to stay at home and raise her kids while the husband works outside of the home. That is his opinion, and he is welcome to it, but please, point me to the Bible verses that teach this view (the Bible is silent on the matter).

I could just as easily argue that it’s best for a child for the father to be a stay- at -home dad and raise the kids, while mom goes off to work.

I’m astounded that this pastor, like so many other Christians, continue to assume that everyone over the age of 25 is married and/or a parent these days.

Census data continue to show that more and more Christians over 20 are not marrying at all, or not marrying until much later in life (current percentage of adults over 18 who are single is now 44%).

I sent his (Schreve’s) ministry an e-mail mentioning all this but all I got was a reply saying they would forward my e-mail to the pastor. (edit, Feb 2014. I never got a reply to that e-mail, nor was the topic addressed and corrected in future sermons.)

I wish pastors would wake up and realize this is 2012 and we are no longer living in 1955 America where everyone is married by 20 years of age with three kids.

By hyper-focusing on marriage and parenting, and telling never married, childless or childfree women over the age of 40 that their greatest, or only, calling in life is to be a wife and mother, you are needlessly marginalizing and insulting never- married adults, widows, the divorced, and the childless and the childfree.

If you are a preacher who holds such views about marriage, gender roles, parenting and/or you are neglecting the never-married adults (as well as other singles, such as the widows) in your audience, you are also neglecting, or violating, biblical passages such as (Link): Matthew 10:34-37 and (Link): Matthew 12:46-50 . You need to repent of your nuclear family, strict gender role views, and marriage idolatry.


(This post has been edited to add new links)



Related posts, this blog:

(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t

(Link): Parenthood Does Not Make People More Loving Mature Godly Ethical Caring or Responsible (One Stop Thread)

(Link): Lies The Church Tells Single Women (by Sue Bohlin)

(Link): Ever Notice That Christians Don’t Care About or Value Singleness, Unless Jesus Christ’s Singleness and Celibacy is Doubted or Called Into Question by Scholars?

(Link): Marriage Does Not Make People More Loving Mature Godly Ethical Caring or Responsible (One Stop Thread)

(Link): According to Pastor ( Jimmy Evans ) It Takes One Man and Woman Married To Equal A Whole – so where does that leave adult Christian singles ?

Driscoll also has incorrect, unbiblical views about adult celibacy:
(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias

(Link): There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

(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 with the gift of Marriage

(Link): The World Does Not Need More Marriage Sermons – They Don’t Stop Divorce or Get People Married

(Link): Preacher Whose 90% of Sermons are About How to Have a Great Marriage Warns Audience Not to Make Marriage an Idol – Kerry Shook Update and Irony Alert

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link): Douglas Wilson and Christian Response FAIL to Sexual Sin – No Body Can Resist Sex – supposedly – Re Celibacy

(Link): A Grown-Up, Not Sexed-Up, View of Womanhood (article) – how Christian teachings on gender and singlehood contribute to raunch culture and fornication etc

(Link): ‘God’s Purpose for Women,’ by Matthew Hagee – Hagee Teaches that Single Unmarried Women Do Not Have a Purpose in Life God has no purpose for singles

(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link): To Get Any Attention or Support from a Church These Days you Have To Be A Stripper, Prostitute, or Orphan

(Link): The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon” line

(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High? (Christians Who Idolize the Family) (article)

(Link): Family as “The” Backbone of Society? – It’s Not In The Bible

(Link): Why Unmarried – Single Christians Should Be Concerned about the Gender Role Controversy (some preachers are teaching that unmarried adults are not 100% human, not 100% in the “image of God,” that they must marry first)

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): Christian TV Personality and Preacher ( Jimmy Evans ) Says You Cannot Meet God’s Destiny For Your Life Without A Spouse = Anti Singleness Singlehood Singles Bias Prejudice Making Idol out of Marriage

(Link): Single Adults – Why They Stay and Why They Stray From Church – Book Excerpts

(Link): Christian Stereotypes About Female Sexuality : All Unmarried Women Are Supposedly Hyper Sexed Harlots – But All Married Ones are Supposedly Frigid or Totally Uninterested in Sex
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Live alone? You’re not alone (from CBS news)

Live alone? You’re not alone, from CBS News

“Women do a much better job when they’re living alone,” said Klinenberg. “They tend to make and maintain relationships much better than men throughout the life course, whereas for men it’s much more likely that they will wind up feeling lonely or unhappy or isolated.”

Case in point: Forty-year-old New Yorker Jeff Ragsdale. He describes waking up alone as “hell.”

“It’s very sad,” he told Spencer. “Or going to bed, you know, alone constantly by yourself, eating alone. And also there’s nothing worse than being sick by yourself. You’re lying in bed watching the world go by and wondering, ‘How did I get so alone?'”
Continue reading “Live alone? You’re not alone (from CBS news)”