Monday, December 29, 2014

Adult Singles - The Church's Dirty Little Secret

Now if that isn’t an inflammatory title, I don’t know what it.  Yet it’s largely true.  After years of examining Protestant churches throughout the country I have come to the conclusion that most of them just wish singles would shut up and not bother them (I suspect Catholics are no different.)  Oh, they are certainly welcome to participate and join any sub-group in a church, but don’t ever expect real support to create one to reach Adult Singles.  A few of the bigger cities have mega churches that attempt to reach single adults, but it really hasn’t caught on with the church community as a whole.

Churches stress the value and importance of marriage.  I think they are ashamed of Adult singles.  I think they look at them as failures that tarnish the Christian image.  They don’t fit in.  They have young marrieds groups, they have classes for those who may be planning to get married.  They even may have a class for support for those actually going through a divorce.  Churches create groups to deal with those suffering addictions, they create groups and even homes for neglected seniors.  They go out of their way to create subgroups to teach and provide activities for their youth and college age children.  They even go so far as to actively evangelize on college campuses and public schools with satellite groups.  They will build orphanages in Africa, schools in South America, and hospitals in rural areas, but when you get to the arena of adult singles the first thing church leadership and pastors will tell you is “we tried that and it didn’t work.”  Later on when you pester them about it they may also tell you “Oh, we can’t do that.  That’s like a dating service,* someone might have sex even.”  That one made me laugh to think why they aren’t afraid of that with their teen and college youth groups.  The bottom line is they will promote and advertise and stress the importance of all these ministries very actively.  But mention the words “Adult Singles Group” and everyone runs the other way.  These are the things I’ve heard and seen over the years in almost all the churches I’ve attended.

Some churches will grudgingly allow attempts at forming adult singles groups but find very little interest in promoting the idea, and so it dies the natural death they predicted.  I really don’t understand any of this.  If there is one group the church can do great things with, it is adult singles.  They are often people with severe stress and loneliness issues, many suffer addictions.  Often, they are single parents struggling to get by with no help whatsoever.  Just the emotional support of a group of folks going through similar life challenges and experiences would be of inestimable value to many of them.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find that churches today have a critically huge segment of their congregations made up of single adults and they don’t even realize it.

With the single population of America growing due to divorce to the point that nearly half the country is single, you’d think America’s churches would be seriously concerned about reaching out to that population.

* And what exactly, pray tell, would be the holy horror of someone finding a mate in a church adult singles group!!!!