I believe a lot of churches in modern America have a hard time figuring out how to relate to their Christian singles. Reality is the average American church is oriented toward the Christian family: married couples, children, and youth. This orientation isn’t inherently bad, but it can leave single adults feeling like the awkward, ecclesial third wheel, especially when churches don’t understand what good attitudes with which they should engage their single members.
Yet I also believe these troubles can be overcome if churches simply cultivate a few good, biblical attitudes toward singles. Before I dive into those attitudes, let’s share some good humor and gain some perspective by recalling the primary bad attitudes churches can have toward singles.
Bad Church Attitudes Toward Singles
#1 – Your singleness needs fixing.
Ah, what Christian single hasn’t encountered the perception that his or her singleness is a problem that needs to be solved? I believe this attitude usually comes out of either of two subconscious assumptions.
The first is the assumption that every Christian who is single is itching to find a partner. Sometimes I feel as though singleness is viewed as a tormented state of loneliness and isolation from which singles need to be rescued. Yes, vast numbers of us singles are eager to exchange singleness for the companionship of a spouse. But there are also many Christians who are happy, content, and living God-glorifying lives in singleness.
The second is the assumption that singles are somehow incomplete or below the status level of married. Since marriage is so normal historically and within churches today, a subconscious stigma can exist toward singleness. A single person might be viewed as experiencing a stage between youth and the full adulthood of married life. The problem is that this stigma is unbiblical. The New Testament actually expresses a view of the single life as supreme, as we’ll discuss more below.
#2 – We shouldn’t help you find a partner.
Some churches have rightly recognized that it’s not right to try to push singles toward finding a partner and that church groups for singles shouldn’t exist solely to try to get the singles to meet and pair up. I’ve found church singles ministries that promote themselves by saying something to the following effect:
“Unlike church singles groups that just serve as places to meet members of the opposite sex, we offer a place for singles to focus on pursuing Christ together through biblical instruction and service opportunities.”
In response, I usually find myself thinking, “that’s great. But, you know, I already attend Sunday morning service, weekly small group, volunteer in the church, and pursue God’s calling for me in my personal life. Since I’ve already got this church programming thing nailed down, do you think you could help me with the one thing I’m having trouble with and offer me a space where I can meet and mingle with Christian bachelorettes?”
Now there’s nothing wrong with encouraging singles to pursue Christ. But reality is many if not most Christian singles want to meet potential partners. A common complaint among single American Christians is that they have a hard time finding other single Christians. It’s logical to look for single Christians at church, but Sunday morning services with their programmatic format truly don’t provide an effective space to foster meetings between singles. Churches can provide an incredibly valuable service to singles who want to marry by providing effective spaces to meet other singles. When churches over-correct by believing they shouldn’t help Christian singles meet each other, churches merely move from one bad attitude to another.
(By the way, you can get my free Guide To Finding Christian Singles by clicking here.)
#3 – Our singles are just like our married people…without the issues of marriage and parenting.
Most leaders within churches are married and see daily life through the lens of a married perspective. So it’s no big surprise if church leaders tend to overlook the unique needs of the singles within their congregations. It’s just human nature. But the truth is singles have numerous unique needs that the church ought to address. For example, what should singles do in the face of loneliness when marriage doesn’t come as quickly as desired? How can singles practice both godly contentment and romantic initiative? What should singles do if they’re content to wait for marriage, but…let’s be real here…their genitals aren’t? These questions all reflect unique issues and needs that singles face, but they aren’t addressed in typical church programming. When’s the last time you walked into a Sunday morning service and heard a sermon on chastity? Come to think of it, I don’t even remember attending a singles ministry event where the message was on chastity! Churches leave their singles to fight their battles alone when churches don’t address the unique needs singles face.
Now that we’ve discussed the primary bad attitudes churches can have toward singles, let’s discuss the attitudes that can turn things around.
Good Church Attitudes Toward Singles
#1 – Singleness Is Excellent And Biblically Supreme
This is, in truth, the biblical perspective of singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, the Apostle Paul expresses that marriage is wonderful and by no means wrong for those who choose to marry. But he goes on to put a premium on living single for the sake of dedicating oneself to God. If we adopt a New Testament attitude toward singleness, then we should view singles who live righteously and serve God in their singleness as being worthy of highest honor.
This doesn’t mean we start idolizing singleness or criticizing those who marry. But cultivating this biblical attitude corrects the errors of thinking that every single should marry or are somehow incomplete until they do. It correctly gives singles a place of honor within the church.
#2 – We Can Offer You Help In Meeting Singles…If You Want It
We must also recognize that a lifetime of singleness isn’t the right choice for everyone. Many singles want to marry and would appreciate a helping hand in meeting potential partners. Churches should offer opportunities for singles to connect without requiring or expecting singles to accept the offer. This allows singles within the church to sort themselves. Those who want to meet other singles can participate in opportunities to do so, while those content to remain single can decline those opportunities. This helps relieve the ache many Christian singles feel to find a partner and avoids foolishly pushing the pursuit of a partner on those singles who don’t want it.
(Again, you can get my free Guide To Finding Christian Singles by clicking here.)
#3 – We Want To Know Your Needs And Work To Meet Them
This attitude requires intentionality on the part of church leaders. It may require that married church leaders intentionally take time to sit down with single men and women and listen to their needs and challenges. It may require married church leaders both to delegate responsibility to and to support a single leader who can better identify with the needs of the singles within the church. It may require a church intentionally commit resources to meet the unique needs of its singles. How any particular church can meet the needs of its singles will vary widely. That’s why local church leaders will need to care enough about their single congregants in order to understand their unique needs and provide for them in a way that’s most appropriate for the church’s circumstances.
Cultivating The Right Attitudes
Cultivating these three attitudes within a church body might not be easy because they cut against our typical church habits. But I believe that a church that cultivates these three attitudes toward singles will be a church that singles will love to be a part of. In fact, I’d like to visit it myself!
What do you think? What good or bad attitudes toward singles have you encountered within your church? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And please share the post using the buttons below!
A version of this post originally appeared on Justin’s blog, That Crazy Christian Romance, on March 20th, 2017. Used by permission.
Justin Megna is the creator of That Crazy Christian Romance, a blog dedicated to sharing biblical wisdom for romance with Christian young people. He completed a BA in Pastoral Ministry at University of Valley Forge.
Get Justin’s free Christian Love Life Essentials Checklist by clicking here.