- I studied to be a pastor.
- I love the Church.
- I love my church.
And lastly—I feel like the guy on the Titanic who is saying, “Man, do we really need to be that close to the iceberg? Shouldn’t we slow down?” And everyone laughs and cheers and has more chicken wings.
The church is going to hit that iceberg in about 5-7 years—hard.
Let me tell you about that iceberg.
When I started interviewing for pastoral positions about 10 years ago, I could barely score an interview for one simple fact: I was single. I had been hung up on, interviews halted and I received tons of letters that said, “Thank you for your application…..” Now I didn’t have a ton of experience and I didn’t want to be a youth pastor. I aimed at, oddly enough, single pastor positions, training, teaching, etc. But it seemed they just cared about the lack of gold around my left ring finger.
I was discouraged and I didn’t want to find someone just to increase my job opportunities. (By the way, I could have completely put churches in court by suing for discrimination and bad hiring practices. I would have won easily. And maybe that’s why these practices continue. But I couldn’t do it.) So at some point, I just threw in the towel. I said, fine, I’m out. I packed up my toys and left ministry. I’d do it in a volunteer way, but not “official” ministry (ugh). And it’s worked out, I’ve enjoyed my life and I feel I’ve been where God has wanted me.
But now I’m cresting into 40-town and there aren’t many single people around. And I don’t mean so I can get married but I mean so single people can love the church. Because here’s the iceberg people:
The church tells us that being married is a spiritual barometer—and that is a total lie from the pit of hell.
Being married has nothing to do with your spiritual maturity—trust me.
And the Bible says:
1 Corinthians 7:8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.
But does the church really, honestly, believe that? I’m saying no.
The church has married retreats and marriage sermons. They have married small groups (and newly married small groups, and 3-5 years married, etc.) I know of many churches that will not allow a Bible study for singles because they are afraid they will hook up. And I think, they would figure it out there? Like they can’t figure out premarital sex on their own?
And the church will marginalize us.They will tsk and tsk about us being single. And yes, I’ve been to single groups where it’s just a moping session about how they are single. Pass me the Pepto Bismol.
Here are some reasons the church can’t really handle us single folk:
They forgot what singleness is: I know of very few churches that have a pastor on staff that is single. I knew one. He got married. And you can say, “Oh yeah, what about our youth pastor? He’s not married.” “Is he engaged?” “Yes.” Sigh. The pastoral staff does not understand our struggles and so they shrug and talk about love languages.
They make up dumb names: Here’s a word that is going around: “unmarried.” It screams that we lack something—give me an identity that is about what I am not what I’m not. Please, please stop using that word.
It’s about money: There I said it. Married people make more than single people. And so it would behoove the church to focus on marrieds.
Single people are perceived to have more pre-marital sex and other issues than marrieds. What a crock. I’d love Gallup to take that one on. What’s more damaging? Pre-martial sex or an affair (Oh, I know your head just spun twelve directions.) I’m not a fan of either, but I’ve seen marriages implode in the reality of an affair.
Singles must be socially awkward since they are not married. Ok, I have met some single people, a lot actually. And I’ve met some real “bless your heart” kind of people. And I’ve met some quite normal, kind single people. I’ve met some married people and thought, “That marriage has to be arranged.” But even if we are socially awkward, the church shouldn’t be a country club.
What the church is missing out on:
Single people have time to serve the church MORE than married people. Yeah, you heard me. We come home to an empty apartment—we want to help, but when we get shunned or shuffled off or even made to feel inferior because we are single, we do other things. Like get 12 cats. Invite us to events. Put us in charge. We will put a lot of time into it. Our kid isn’t going to get sick. We don’t need a babysitter. What we can’t give in money, we can give in time.
We are relational glue: We want to know your family. We will babysit (don’t push it though. Your kid can be a real pistol.) We can take you guys out for coffee. We’ll help you clean your garage or wash your car. (Key: help.) We want friendship and we are available. If you get to know us, you can get a great friend out of the deal.
We are all here: We have no other concern, but that to serve God. We’d be great on missions trips or youth trips. We are not divided between our home and our church. And that’s a great thing.
Singles don’t need a program or a certain meeting time. We need a warm handshake, and invitation over (or accept ours.) We want to feel included and welcomed and to not have our left hand stared at. We know we aren’t wearing a ring. We know that in the morning and in the evening; we know that when Valentine’s day rolls around or we go to a wedding. We just want to know we can go to church and not have another reminder. Because in 5-7 years, with singleness on the rise, the church is going to have to take a hard look at what they are doing to love singles at their church—if there are any left.
He likes this.