How to enjoy church again
I can understand if you've come to dread it. Many pastors do not make their church a "singles-friendly" atmosphere. We're treated like oddballs, like second-class citizens who are somehow to be pitied because we don't have a spouse and a family. Even if that message is not overt, many singles feel awkward being treated differently from the rest of the congregation.
Pastors should know better, but many don't get it. It's been so long since they've been single that they've forgotten what it's like. Older preachers, especially, may take a patronizing attitude toward the singles in their congregation. They may think all the "special attention" helps us enjoy church.
You're single, but you're not alone
If going to church makes you frustrated or even angry, you're not alone. I hear this comment from singles quite often.
One young woman complained that her pastor was starting a three month series of sermons on marriage. Now the married folks in the church may eat that up, but the sermon has become irrelevant to almost half the congregation--and for three months, yet! Show some common sense, pastor!
We all know that women do most of the work at church. Many of the older ladies are kind and thoughtful, treating young single women like their daughters. But they don't have a right to keep asking if you've met an eligible man yet, or to treat you with pity because you're not among the ranks of the married.
Women in their generation may not understand that many single women today are happy being unwed, so they can pursue their career and other interests.
It's difficult to deal with these well-meaning folks. You don't want to be rude, but on the other hand, you don't need a second mother or pseudo-relative giving you the "unmarried guilt trip." Yikes!
We just want to be treated like a person, not a single person. We have a right to enjoy church as much as married folks.
The dreaded singles' groups
Church singles groups are well-intentioned but can have just the opposite effect. Not only can they make you even more aware of your singleness, they can put you in an awkward situation of being "eligible" with people you'd rather not be eligible with--if you know what I mean.
A divorced female friend gave a poignant account of what many singles feel:
Fortunately, she didn't let that stop her. She rebuilt her life to include a variety of worthwhile activities. I admire her for stepping out, with God's help, to take a creative approach.
Some of these groups throw young singles, middle aged singles and elderly widows and widowers in together; the only two things they have in common being their church membership and that they don't have a spouse. It sounds like a perfect formula for a lot of very uncomfortable people to me.
Just because your church may have a singles' group doesn't mean you'll be arrested if you don't participate in it. You can't enjoy church if part of it makes you half-sick with anxiety.
It's not Bible times any more, Pastor!
Here's the deal. In ancient Israel, people considered it their duty to God to get married and have a large family. As we read about several Bible women (Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, and Elizabeth), married women considered it a disgrace to be childless. Because many children died in infancy, large families were necessary to sustain the tribe and the nation.
But it's not Bible times any more, Pastor! Women are no longer denied opportunities in the work place. They can achieve anything men can achieve. They can provide for themselves and often outearn men. Our country doesn't need big families.
So stop telling us marriage is the best state on earth. It may not be for everyone. Many widows and widowers will not remarry. The opportunity has passed some of us singles by. Is there a reason you want singles to feel bad?
Oops. Sorry. You're not a pastor. You're just a single person reading this. But maybe you should forward it to your pastor.
How to enjoy church again
We singles can get by these aggravations, if we really want to. We can enjoy church instead of dreading it, if we make up our minds to.
Here are a few suggestions on how to enjoy church again:
Here are some excellent pointers on How to find a church...
You can laugh about it! Read this hilarious piece on Surviving Church as a Single...