Church and the Single Girl

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To the small group leader who suggests four times at the fall kick-off meeting that they just really want this to be convenient for the families…

To the pastor who on Sunday morning casually equates maturity with marriage…

To the conference planner who doesn’t fight to find and include single voices — not so that they can talk about singleness per se but so that not all references and stories have to do with marriage and parenting…

I need you to know something.

It is hard to be single in the Church today.

Like real hard.

Like maybe even harder than it is to be single and not in Church.

Don’t just take my word for it — ask your single Christian friends — scour the internet — Church can leave us single folk feeling isolated, misunderstood, and even a little disrespected. It can leave us questioning God’s goodness, His plans, and even our worthiness of love.

And truth be known, a lot of us aren’t single by choice. A lot of us are single because…well, who knows why. Maybe we are single because we have been so focused on doing our thing(s), following God’s prompting(s), and being faithful in the thing(s) right in front of us today that we haven’t met that person that is up for the challenge of running alongside us?!?

We are tired. Weary. Alone {well, not as much alone as spouse-less}.

And we need the Church to see us and to welcome us.

We need the Church to know that we aren’t stuck in extended adolescence but juggling various responsibilities without a spouse’s help.

We need the Church to cast a vision for intimacy with our “brothers and sisters” that goes beyond getting married and having 1.9 kids.

We need the Church to not just take our time and resources but recognize us as a demographic that is worthy of it’s time and resources.

And we need the Church to see us as vital parts of the body.

4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. Romans 12:4-6, The Message

I write all this not to bash the Church because I LOVE the Church. I write this because these thoughts have been stirring in my head A LOT lately and I needed to at the very least start a healthy dialogue around singleness and the church.

I hope over the coming weeks and months to talk more about the reality many single Christians face, to introduce you some of my incredible friends who are asking similar questions and facing similar challenges, and to encourage us all to be what we were made to be, do what we were made to do — even if it breaks some traditional molds.

If you are single, I’d love to hear more about your experiences, good and bad, in the Church.

If you are married, I’d love to hear things you have done to make singles feel welcomed into your lives and/or into the Church. 

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • John Morgan

    I’m a senior single who never married and I could write a book about the disparaging remarks I’ve heard in churches. The reason we feel uncomfortable in churches today is because most of them idolize marriage and family. They don’t even allow single men as pastors, single women are kept in the nursery, and if you’re not married you’re not really a mature adult. I have watched this go downhill for many, many years – and a lot of hearts will have to change before things change.

  • Melissa Gardner

    Thank you for this, Lindsey! I’m a 35 year old single female attorney. I have no discernible desire to get married and have not felt that this aspect of my personality keeps me from running hard after Jesus. However I’ve found myself (more so recently even) “left out” of my church’s conversations and taken aback by comments like “you’re single? Let’s fix that.” My singleness isn’t a disease and it isn’t the most important part about me, but so often it seems like the church thinks it is both. I have so much more to learn about this walk…I’d rather focus on how to look more like Jesus and focus less on how to get a ring. For all those reasons, I’m working hard on developing grace and love toward those who don’t understand our position. May we speak in love for those who don’t have the platform or the words and may our leaders listen with open hearts and minds. Thanks again!!

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  • Jenni Trietsch

    I helped host our first IF:Local this year (Abilene:Highland) and the panel/table talk about seasons of life jumped out at me…..so I went looking to find you online 😉 I’m also still single at 39 and this is not the path I wanted to walk. You did such a great job laying out something that I have struggled to express without sounding whiny.

    I don’t think that most churches intentionally set out to exclude and overlook singles, but they certainly don’t try hard to really see us. And all the unintentional little things ….. like asking for “family photos” for an upcoming church directory is a small thing, but words are important and impactful. While my preacher has done an ok job talking and writing about singles in the church and how valuable we are, I still don’t see any change in how the church actually functions….which is what makes me really sad….and awakens my cynicism to greater heights. I don’t feel like I have a real community within the church (outside of my family of origin). I don’t think I would get the same support if I needed it that so many families do (when there is a birth, death or other major life event). What hurts most, is that I’m not sure it would even occur to most of them to think about it.

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  • James William

    I’m a naturally fit, healthy, strong, positive, passionate guy and honest. I’m active, very young at heart, always up for a challenge, GSOH and quick witted, yet sensible, laid back, reliable and mature………….mmmmm leave that up to you to decide – guaranteed to keep you smiling, i am 48 years old male……….I enjoy being outdoors, the beach, travelling, weekends away in style or camping, fishing and exploring country towns.
    I love stimulating conversation and admire a woman who is positive, passionate, engaging, speaks her mind and has the twinkle in the eyes. I respect you would have your own interests and lifestyle and are looking for a partner to compliment not complicate.
    I would love to catch up for a coffee or dinner to see if we connect.

    Thanks
    James.
    e-mail: jameswilliam1@yandex.com

  • Hey Lindsey you took the words right out of my mouth as a single person…, that is until I got married. Now that it’s been almost five years since Marc and I got married–I find it’s almost worse to find fellowship as a married person without children. It took us almost five years to find a church where we weren’t the ONLY married couple without kids. Maybe it’s because most people have kids before getting married. Maybe it’s because it was easier being single and finding fellowship because there’s ALWAYS at least a few churches who have a singles ministries. We’re not exactly “young” marrieds, so finding fellowship was touch. Anyway, I think there’s always a reason to feel isolated in the church, but I love it all the same. Just teaches me to continue reaching out to those who don’t feel like they fit in: single, married without kids, married with kids, divorced, etc etc 🙂

  • Jackie Gregoire

    I absolutely know what you mean. Recently, I went to one sermon, out of 6, on sexuality. It was a painfully exhausting sermon, where I listened about marriage, and the benefits of being faithful. Six weeks, talking about sex. I’m single, in my 50’s, and will likely not remarry. I was even approached, by one member, questioning me on why I hadn’t been to church in a while. I sit, week, after week, at the end of a row, by myself. I tried, several times, to get involved, with my church, and share my gifts, in several ways. I lead worship and loved it. I started a photography group in an effort to connect, but nobody would reply. I began a church organizers group, but had little feedback. I can’t break the walls of our church cliques, nor should I need to, nor do I want to. While my church claims to be accepting of all, I find it difficult to believe, when I see and hear how they view certain social groups. More recently, I’ve heard their views on transgender people, and gay people, and quite honestly, I’m a little taken aback by their unabashed vocalization, and lack of compassion, on these matters. My daughter is gay and she definitely does not feel welcomed there, but did express, lately, that Jesus probably loves her too, even if she is gay.
    I work, full time, and am the sole provider for my household … and I’m tired. Small groups are mostly geared to marriage and family life. I’ve had people invite me to their woman’s group…given during the morning, when I work. I’ve been in conversations, or in groups, and have been completely ignored, as conversations turn to marriage, or family life.
    I’m not opposed to marriage. I was married for more than 18 years. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. My former husband did not. I am not a threat to anyone’s marriage, but can honestly say, that sometimes, I have been treated that way. Tithe 10 %? I live pay cheque to pay cheque and have heard people referring to families who are well off, or who are a shining example, as being blessed, because of their faithfulness…like blessings are only shown, by how much you earn, or how much you have, or “who you are in the church”.
    I am in a different season, of my life and should not feel bad because of it, but sometimes I do. If anything, I’ve learned that to truly love people, is to love them and accept them for who they are, and not what they can provide for you. A wedge between your heart, and who you truly are, socially, is not anything that anyone should experience, while attending church.

  • Karen

    Lindsey, I don’t know if you are still reading responses to this post or not, nor do I know how old you are, but I felt led to respond. I’m 54 and have never married. Some of what you said resonated with me. I spent much of my adult life in overseas service and, though I’ve never been opposed to being married, I was never desperate about it. God simply had other things for me to do and I’ve had a pretty amazing life. In all the places I’ve lived outside of the US, I’ve never struggled being a Single Christian. It truly is a different story here in the US. I can’t tell you the number of churches I’ve visited over the last few years where NO ONE has spoken to me from the time I got out of my car until I got back in after service. The services were all nice, but we have a great problem with “church” in America, I fear. We have become very inward focused where church becomes about our experience rather than worshipping God. I pray that changes and church (in general) becomes less cultural and more about Glorifying God. I really don’t intend this to be an indictment, but simply an observation and a hope that we don’t have to experience what our Brothers and Sisters in other parts of the world endure in order for us to get our priorities, focus and relationship with God where it needs to be. Too much has taken His place in many of our lives (mine included), and not all of those things are “bad”.

    One last thing to share… A while back in a church where no one spoke to me, in the middle of the sermon on the family, the pastor mentioned that there are about 7% (I think that’s the right percentage) of the earth’s population who have been called to singleness. He then stated that our culture looks at these people as “sub-culture”, but in fact, they are “super-culture” (above culture) because they have been called and set apart by God. In the midst of the loneliness of sitting in church with no one seeming to have noticed I was there, it was nice to be affirmed that God has a very special plan for those of us in this demographic. I know that I would never have been able to have the relationship I have with him if I had married, and I’m grateful for the gift of His presence in my life in such an unexpressible way.

    I hope in some way, this encourages you.