Since this is the single group I figured this was the appropriate place to ask the question...
What is your experience as a single (be that never married, divorced or widowed) person in the church?
I ask this because I think it can be a huge problem in certain churches and not so much in others, and maybe in some most people are...
For me, my church has pretty much couples/families. Many young families. As a matter of fact, in terms of being a never married female single without children – I am it and has been since I arrived in 06... (we do however have a few divorced women or single mothers)
The chances of me finding a partner in my church are up to God. As it is now, it's pretty much zero. He would have to bring someone. That is a subject in itself, but it’s not the only one I’m interested in hearing your views on...
Do you feel like you are accepted as a “complete” person in your church or are you the misfit because you are not in a family unit?
Are you invited to couples/families with other couples/families when that would mean that you are the “fifth wheel” (in the sense of being the one person by yourself) or do others make the decision for you that you wouldn’t be comfortable so they don’t invite you?
Is your church a support or do you sometimes leave feeling worse?
How does your church view friendship with a person of the opposite sex? Do they trust that’s all there is?
And you men - here's one for you, because you are more rare than the female singles in church (at least in Europe) - do you feel like the hunted prey?
I have pretty much experienced all of the above...(well not the male question) and more. It also of course depends on where I am in my life and my feelings... but I am “blessed” with being included in the administrative council in my church – the only woman at the moment, and a single one to boot. I do sometimes (ok, often) feel like I am there to educate the others on how to act or not act around me or any other “one” person...
I have “had it out” with the pastor in my church several times, because he sometimes preaches in ways that drives me crazy... then avoids the discussion when I confront him... He did read a book I put in his hands on being single in the church (excellent book but can’t remember the author right now) and has changed slightly since – he now admits to “not knowing how I feel but trying to understand” where before he would say “I know how you feel” when he’s been happily married since his early twenties...
Hope to hear/see a LOT of different experiences points of view...!
I am wondering how much that is because in (a few? some? many? ) churches singles are not treated as complete or enough in themselves... in churches families with mom, dad and children are the norm... great, I love that, but... it sometimes makes it hard for singles, especially if they also feel a stigma relating to whatever their situation is...
I feel for evryone in this position, yes everything is so geared towards family. The church falls short on our status, I don't think it by chioce, but just what to do about it.
It is very disheartening to go and see all the couples and families. Everyone treats me great, no one shuns away from me or anything. It is really hard finding that connection with like minded people.
I am not sure what to do about it. Start a small group ? Maybe that is the route ? I will get that book and read it. We have great small groups, but like I mentioned they address everyone but us.
I guess just have faith.
Rika said:It's kind of funny hearing you guys' perspectives... 'cause to me there are NO single men in church... but maybe that's just Europe, eh?
Funny, I just resigned from the church council, and at our annual meeting it was mentioned that I had been "representing the women and the singles" and I'm thinking,it's not like I had a CHOICE, I was the only single person in that group and it was the only way they were going to take us into account... It was never something I was looking to do, but I do recognize that God put me in a position where I could make our voice heard... and that if these people were going to hear it, it had to come from me... I came home from more than one meeting extremely frustrated and spent, but... there were times it was impossible to keep quiet. Like when the "Let's make the theme of our church weekend this year families". Errr... did you want any of the single/divorced/one adult families to attend this year??
So... can I throw out the question... are you doing something about this in your church? Or just getting frustrated and fed up? I am not actively doing much actually... except protest and inform when I am thrown into the position, but I wonder... if something's gonna change... who better than us to change it? It's not going to be the couples who make that effort...
If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend "Singles at the Crossraods" by Albert Y. Hsu. Excellent book about being single in the church (maybe I already mentioned it?) and one I pretty much forced my pastor to read... He had the grace to do so (after a heated discussion with me over one of his messages...) and told me afterward he had gained a new perspective... no kidding, he's been married for about 35 years!
Anyway, thanks a lot for contributing, it's great hearing your perspectives!