A Pastor's Apology To The Single Community

woman-alone-in-church

This is a message to all those who are single or who have spent any years in the Church as a single person.

As a pastor who has served in local church ministry for the past 18 years, I wanted to apologize to you on behalf of so many of us who minister and who too often have failed you.

I am deeply sorry.

I’m sorry for the ways we unintentionally distanced you from community; the times that we overlooked your deep needs and your unique challenges as we planned and prepared.

I’m sorry for the times we relegated you to the segregated ghettos of Singles Ministry, making you feel that was enough to hold you over until you eventually graduated from your relational purgatory.

I’m sorry for the times you felt like an afterthought in our worship services. 

I’m sorry for the times you felt unwelcome or extraneous in our small groups.

I’m sorry for unknowingly depriving you of the great richness of multigenerational ministry.

I’m sorry for the many times our sermon series lifted up Marriage and Family, and in the process ignored the awkwardness that might create for you.

I’m sorry for the way our programming and event schedules might have accidentally diminished your contributions and your worth.

I’m sorry for the way we so easily defaulted to lazy language that so often excluded you.

You need to know that this was never intentional, but even still I know it is incredibly painful.

You need to know that you are valued and treasured and appreciated, even when we have failed to let you know.

You are The Church.

You are not second class Christians.

You are not inferior members of our communities.

You are not worth less than those who have found married life a reality.

Your singleness is not a temporary affliction that you need to be healed of, or a sad fate you need to be rescued from.

It is not a sign that your faith is suspect or that your prayers are not earnest or that your goodness is at all in doubt.

It is not proof of your character flaws or your moral failings or your lack of value. 

It is simply this place and time in your story.

You may not remain single forever, however if you do, that is not a defeat and it is not a compromise.

You are a child of God. There is never wrong or loss or failure in that.

You are not currently incomplete, biding time, just awaiting to be made half of something else.

You are a beautiful whole human being, made singularly and perfectly in the image of God.

We in leadership in the Church have often failed to really see you or have fallen short of pastoring you well.

We may do it again, and for that too I ask for forgiveness.

Never ever doubt how priceless your life is.

You are deeply and fully loved; every single one of you.

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: thegospelcoalition.com

 

149 thoughts on “A Pastor's Apology To The Single Community

  1. John I felt this alot when I was raising my Son because I choose to give him even though I had him out of wedlock.The church has been a source of pain and comfort ,lets say bittersweet.Ive held alot of anamosity towards Christians because I felt they werent there for me when I despairtley needed someone.Thank you for the blog.Asking God to help me continue to forgive. Heather M.Burch

    • I can’t figure out how to create a comment so I’ll just reply here.

      I’m a single evangelist due to a wife’s infidelity. I know first hand the struggles and have tried my best to help. I’m preached and ministered in single’s conferences from Oklahoma to North Carolina, from Indiana to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Even out in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

      Pastor, I applaud you for this revelation from God but I do have a question now. What are you planning on doing about it now?

  2. I feel this applies more to the elderly retired couple, than the single. Unless they were born into the community, they seem to be left out in the cold.

    • I am sure there are many types of people who feel that the church does not do a great job including them. That being said, many of the churches I know have incredibly rich senior adult ministries that are very inclusive of newcomers. My own grandparents attended such a church and I know it was a great comfort to my Grandmother even after my Granddad’s passing. They only became members of that church in their 70’s but found that the activities and relationships filled up their calendars.

      Me? I am 29 and the only church activity aimed at me in an entire city of 60,000+ is adult single’s bible study which is mostly college aged students. There are plenty other single people my age in this town, but we all feel that the churches don’t welcome us or know what to do with us. If we try to make friends with the couples our age, they are too busy. If our church had a singles minister like they did a seniors minister to plan activities and to seek people out I have to think it would be different. The fact that a lot of bigger churches have someone they pay to lead the seniors ministry tells me that the church is in general doing a better job ministering to elderly retired couples than singles. If you were in my town I could point you in the direction of any number of senior ministries that would welcome you with open arms.

      At my church the seniors have their own choir, their own building, they go on fun social trips, mission trips, they plan monthly lunch’s with exciting speakers and have numerous other social events that are in my bulletin. Our single’s bible study group doesn’t even make it into the bulletin, meaning other single people who visit the church have a hard time learning that the study even exists. I have lived in many cities across America and noticed this pattern to be true at most of the churches I visit. I can’t wait to be an elderly retired couple because FINALLY the church will start having activities for me to do!

      There is an ever dwindling amount of people my generation going to church and believing in God and there is an increasing amount of people my generation putting off marriage or choosing to forego it altogether. I suspect the two may be linked.

      I know that being a senior adult is not easy, and making the transition into retirement can’t be easy. I hope you will find another church that is more welcoming than the one you are currently in. Me? I’ll keep looking but I won’t hold my breath.

      • Amen, Sarah! I am 56, and cannot tell you how frustrated I get with my otherwise fine church. There is a seniors pastor, a women’s pastor, a high school pastor, a children’s pastor, a family pastor, and an executive pastor. I have asked for years for a singles pastor, pointing out that that is the fastest growing demographic in the church today, but keep being told that we are supposed to just fit in with the married couples. But what about when a wife gets upset if I speak to her husband, or a husband gets belligerant if a single male speaks to his wife in a Sunday school discussion of theology? Older singles are often seen as threats to married couples not totally secure in their relationship. That’s not the fault of the single, but the single has to bear the blame and the rejection. The church sputters and says that the wrong attitude of some married folks doesn’t really change anything, that more education, more teaching is needed, and that singles must be forgiving and patient. Yes, but I have been waiting for 30 years for this education to happen in my church, and the attitude is worse now than when I started there in 1984. I feel that a lot of ground has been lost as the leadership has changed over the years. And now my church is only interested in the opinions of those between 18 and 30, as that is the demographic they are courting. Older people in general, and especially us older singles, feel marginalized and unheard. I write this because I do not believe that my church is unique, I sadly believe there are many others feeling as I do.

      • Goodness, Sarah, do you go to my church??? Because I have the same situation.
        Once, we had a good sized “Over 30” group that met weekly and planned events, but it was impossible to find on the website- I only learned about it because I dug around and looked at the site as a whole.
        Our church has cool names for all our ministries (including the under 30/college/singles group), except ours. We met in an elementary school classroom.
        It was kind of depressing.
        And then the leader moved away and nothing. So far as I know she was on her own, support-wise and the church hasn’t bothered to seek someone out to replace her. I’d do it myself but I don’t have prep time.
        It’s sad. I go to a huge church. There are loads of people like me, but I don’t know who they are or where they are. It’s been like that in every church I’ve attended as an adult. I’ll be 32 in 2 months. That’s 14 years and 3 churches of being on the sidelines.

    • Dear Lois ~

      While you may fall into that demographic and feel that this applies more to you, I can assure you as a woman who participated in the Singles Minstry for over 20 years that, unfortunately, this is indeed a big part of the single Christian’s reality in the church.

      As a retired couple you may have at least had children and a marriage, maybe even grandchildren, though some of that is behind you now. As a single person many of us don’t even have that to reflect upon and the reminder that we are not yet, or never will be, parents (or grandparents, or even maybe part of a couple) is extremely painful.

      As the church focuses on the family, they often look to singles (and maybe retired couples as well) to pick up the slack and serve around the church because we, apparently, have nothing better to do since we are not ‘burdened’ with families to care for. Not that we mind serving, but we don’t want to feel that somehow it’s our responsibility because others are busy with ‘more important’ matters of raising families — something many of us wish we could do and yet, for some inexplicable reason, have been denied.

      I have to say that I’m so sorry that you too feel that disconnect, Lois. Wishing you many blessings.

      • I’m sorry for both struggles! I have seen both in many churches. How about if we just lift one another up instead of getting into the “I’ve got it worse than you” debate? Because the reality is it’s comparing apples to oranges. I think that whole debate of I’m worse off than you is why we don’t show people the compassion we should. We think we have it worse. We deserve that compassion not them. And our society becomes more and more self-centered.

        Think outside yourself for a while. Look for someone else who might feel left out and hurting and reach out to them. You might be surprised at how much your own mindset can change because of this. In the meantime, let’s try not to trivialize one another’s problems and hurts.

    • Nope. Coming from a church that ousted you for turning 30 and being single, I really needed hear this…I am far from elderly.

  3. Sorry but I don’t believe you. I have heard these apologies about once every ten years. I have been in the church for over 40 years. Nothing changes. Maybe stop apologizing to single people and start demanding that your churches and your pastors and your staff change.

    • Sweetheart, I’m single too, never married, never had a serious relationship. Yet, I don’t expect others to stretch a hand of friendship. I stretch my hand first. I don’t expect others to comfort me or understand me. I try to see hurting people and help them. Then out of those I find those to whom I can open my heart. I attend prayers and bear burdens of others, then others bear my burdens. Is it wrong to celebrate love on Valentines Day or mothers’ sleepless nights and hard work on Mother’s Day? Most of the time I am left out on those days, but I help others to make these days special. I find those who, like me, are left our on Thanksgiving, New Years or Valentines day, and I do something special for them. That brings me joy. Sometimes I get something back or we have fun together. Those things help a lot to overcome bitterness and rejoice with those who have joy. I am praying for you right now that the Lord gives you comfort, peace, joy! The Lord dearly loves you! ☺

      • Inna, I am glad you enjoy all the things you do for your church community. Please don’t lecture the rest of us on wishing that others might make an effort occasionally. I too used to do all of those things, but no one was giving back to me. I got drained. I stopped and no one noticed. The church needs to get its act together if it doesn’t want to lose an entire generation. I am still dragging myself to church now, but I don’t get much out of it. I don’t feel any social connections and it makes me feel sad to go and know that I am not appreciated or wanted.

        • Sarah,

          I entirely agree with you. I also got tired of extending a hand and getting nothing in return. I volunteered, taught children, etc., but the older I got the harder it was to be single in the church. I grew tired of having to witness the fake smiles and comments from single women who said Jesus is all they need when in private they cry and deeply mourn their lack of family and children. And the social stigma that something must be wrong with you to not be married at your age, despite the utter lack of single men in the church, which no one notices or cares about. Not to mention the arm’s length that most married women will keep you from their husbands and family.
          For a long time I believed the church would be my family, but I learned the hard way through many experiences that the most I could expect from the church was perhaps an occasional casserole when I got sick. I have absolutely no faith that anyone at church will be there for me when I am sick, in the hospital, or need help at home, even though they know I have no family or family support. I know because I experienced this first hand too many times. After years, I finally gave up going to church because it was too depressing, too painful, and also too draining. There was no community for an older single woman. And when I left, like you, no one noticed or cared.

      • it’s not “wrong” to celebrate mothers’ sleepless nights and hard work on Mother’s Day. But it would help if churches would acknowledge that “Mother’s Day” is not some kind of universally happy holiday that everyone is celebrating. We are called to rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep.

        • Good comment AmmaLeslie. Apart from celebrating my mother on mothers day, It is a painful day for me. I generally do not even got o church on that day…As I am a 43 year old woman, never married, and moving into menopause. I have tried to keep a stiff upper lip, done things for others and their children, and all other kinds of busy work to drown out the intense pain I feel over what I will never have. It is different for everyone. No one has the right to lecture anyone else about how it affects them. No one’s genuine feelings about their sense of grief and loss or the lack their of in Ina’s case, should not be held against them as some sort of indictment. The point being, is that people should just be a little more sensitive. While celebrating this day at church, their are many groups that could also be acknowledged. Not just singles who have been denied marriage, but anyone who has had to survive infertility….to include married women who could not conceive. The truth is that churches cater to families. We just need more sensitivity to everyone’s needs.

      • I’m truly surprised you don’t have invitations on the holidays you mention, Inna. You sound like the kind of person anyone would love to have part of their inner circle because you show a great deal of grace even in such a short comment. I’d love another friend like that in my life! You’re a rare breed!

        I think anyone can feel lonely and isolated. I know I often do and I probably fit the standard church demographic well enough. The difficulty is breaking into already established social networks. I find it next to impossible and I’ve had lots of practice because we’re a military family who frequently moves. It’s okay on base, but if you’re trying to do this out in a broader community, it’s exceptionally difficult and those people who will be open to making new friends are few and far between. They’re out there though – often their the ones who haven’t been able to make inroads either.

        One possible way to do this would be to have a little care in how “prayer for ups” and Sunday school classes are divided. I’ve noticed in many friend groups, you have a close clique and entry is next to impossible to new members. Churches shouldn’t be sponsoring groups like that, in my opinion and pastors/leadership should be encouraging groups to be welcoming in new members.

      • Thank you!!! I think we are all so caught up in self-centeredness and the blame game. I completely agree with this.

      • You are the holier-than-thou christian hypocrite that drove me from the church 25 years ago (a decision I’ve never regretted). Don’t bother praying for me – I don’t believe God is listening to you.

      • Perfect comment, Inna.

        I think a lot of the problem I’m seeing in some of these comments is that people are looking to the CHURCH to feed them rather than their own relationship with God. ANYONE (single, married, divorced, widowed, ambivalent, etc.) who looks to another person to give only what God can is going to be disappointed and dissatisfied. No amount of programs, Bible studies, bulletin mentions, or potlucks will change that.

        Do we encourage and uplift each other? Of course. But that has nothing to do with our marital status or even our age. We need to stop creating walls in the kingdom that have no place there.

        Keep on keeping on, Inna. Singleness does not have to equal bitterness. And I’m right there with ya. 🙂

      • At the end of the day, it’s all about how you view the church. Is it there to serve you? Or is it there for you to serve in as a means of reaching others for Christ?

        Too many Christians now seems to view the church as something that exists to serve them and meet their needs rather than a vehicle to help them get involved in the mission of Christ on this earth.

        The Bible talks about spiritual children… the American church sometimes resembles the kid screaming in the corner because we weren’t allowed candy before dinner….

    • Stop being bitter about your singleness. Find a church that has a singles ministry and allow God to heal you of any hurts and grievances you may have.

      • Lula, the problem is that our churches DON’T have singles ministries, and don’t want to! I am not bitter about being single, and I have not let the lack of a singles ministry drive me from my church, but I DO yearn for fellowship with other singles who are in my age bracket of 45-60, not just out of college. I wish my church had a desire to reach out to the many middle-aged singles, and not just families and youth. I am involved in many things with the married and widowed ladies of my church, and I am loved and included, but the dear ladies do drop clangers now and then, assuming that all ladies over 30 are married.

      • Many churches try to start singles ministries–but they fail just after getting started. Either it’s due to lack of interest, because of a lack of membership growth or because the group evolves into a clique. I’ll say it again–if single people in a church community, especially young adult singles, want to find other single people–they’d better look elsewhere such as community education or even a bar. I’ve been to too many singles groups which have failed due to lack of interest or have become a geezer clique. Forget what the advice columnists say about going to a church community–those people just write baloney.

    • If nothing changes , nothing changes. I found that when I came into a new church everybody was like we’re goin love on u, welcome home, glad ur here. That never happened. At first I held a resentment against everybody. I didn’t think it was because I was single , it wasn’t . It was because I felt everyone should stop what there doing and run up and hug me and take me by the hand and introduce me to everybody because I thought I was important , a child of God, a citizen of the kingdom. Don’t u know who I am? Then I thought, u know, there’s three thousand people here and I’m one of them, if I want to be loved on, I need to love first, I needed to go to people and introduce myself, maybe I needed to hug them, hold their hand, I needed to make things happen. I wasn’t a pastor then, but I am now. God put me there for a reason so I had to think like Jesus and love like Jesus , and it didn’t matter what people thought, I heard them saying who’s this guy, he’s new and he’s taking over,maybe we should give him the keys and he can run the show. Is that how the church acts? Sometimes. The problem with the church is, people!! I don’t care if ur single, married, whatever. I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me, cause I don’t. It’s not about them and it’s not about me, it’s about HIM !! So pray, discern, don’t be shy and if a pastor isn’t ur cup of tea, maybe Gods tellin u to find another pastor and that might mean goin to another church.. How bout if that’s his plan for u. The Lord answers pray, but Hes not gonna let u kick back and do all the work, no , u must have a hand in the plan. Remember , lot of nice , Godly people in the world. If u can’t find one, BE ONE. ! Stay blessed. ????

  4. Reblogged this on I Am Not leah and commented:
    I so appreciated this post! Perhaps some of my single brothers and sisters out there might appreciate it too. And maybe the married brothers and sisters will get a little perspective on what the singles experience in the church sometimes.

  5. As a happily married couple with no children we kind of feel that way also. So much of church is geared toward “families” and they have so much for the children we feel left out sometimes. So many church people say that is how you get people in the church is start with the kids, but I’m thinking to myself we don’t have kids though and so do other people out there who need to feel welcome in a church even though they might not have kids.!

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head! All of these happen almost every day and they have since my first days as a single adult. It hasn’t mattered that the first time came through divorce, or that the present time has come from death, the results are very much the same. I haven’t found a place for me since I left a single ministry, Rebuilders, and what made that work is that we were almost a separate entity from the church family. This is profound insight shared in the generosity of grace. Thank you!

  7. As a former Christian, now Buddhist, I would like to thank you for this post. I also would like to say, “I forgive you”. While you have you not wronged me personally, I do feel like you need to hear those words. I grew up in the Lutheran church, and like many other denominations, there is a large emphasis on marriage, relationships, and family – and less so with singles. There are singles groups available, but there is much more support for families and couples.

    During my college years and a few years beyond, I really struggled with being single. I was heavily active in many church groups then, and often found it awkward to be around couples or friends in relationships because it was hard to relate to them. While I had gone on dates, and definitely had caught the attention of a few girls, that interest didn’t develop into a serious relationship. It was hard, and that led me into some problems with pornography (so much so that I had to get counseling from my church pastor for a short while). The university I attended had lots of support for couples and many people often got married after they graduated (which is a dumb idea, in my opinion, what does a 22-year-old know about life post-college?).

    I’m 30 now, and have had a few serious relationships in the past, but they didn’t last. These past few years I’ve learned to be happy with myself alone, and I think that’s an important part of being single. Your post is heartfelt and sincere. Singles in both the Christian church, and outside can benefit from reading it. Thank you.

  8. This is lovely. Thank you for the affirmation. I have chosen to be single for thirty five years after two “finished” marriages..just realized that I am more suited to being alone. I now am in my eighth decade and deeply happy. People are harmed by the emphasis on two by two and the cultural story of the miserable solitary. I am delighted for my happily married friends but delighted with my own choice as well.

  9. Thanks for your post John. For me singleness is a gift from God that I thank Him for regularly. As St Paul explains in his first letter to the Corinthians singleness gives me the space to serve God more fully. He provides for All my needs and He is my husband Isaiah 54. Let us rejoice in His provision whether free and single or married as we are all His children.

  10. Good for you John Pavlovitz. I have seen complaints from singles in church who feel that they have been treated badly by their churches. The churches that are heavily into patriarchy seem to be the worst ones, whether intentionally or unintentionally, at making single people feel like they have no place in the church. Double-Double-Double shame on the so-called pastors who allow this to happen.

  11. Am I single yes…Although ‘ve been in a gay relationship 40 years and also feel same isolation. I try to take any messages/sermons and apply as anyone else does however, I feel distanced from the community, I feel like an afterthought, small groups in church isn’t my friend either which for years has forced me to either not be forthcoming of the person I am for fear of rejection or just not feeling welcomed and yes I am the church, but feel like a second class Christian. How do you…the Church go about changing these same feelings for the LGBT community?

    • There are welcoming and affirming churches out there. Depending on where you live, you may have to go a distance to find one, or try another denomination, but there are churches, many churches, that will not treat you like an afterthought or give you the message that you should hide who you are and who you love. Someone who has been in a committed relationship for 40 years is not “single” in my book. The world is changing and the church is changing. I hope you are able to find a worshiping community that will welcome you and your life partner. Jesus loves you both. Please find a church that acknowledges that!

    • Marc, if you continue to pursue a unGodly lifestyle you will always be left out. The vast majority of truly Born Again Christians will NOT accept a lifestyle that the Word of God condemns as sin. Not only will you feel left out in church, you will be left behind and not enter the Kingdom of God. There is no such thing as a homosexual born again Christian. Whenever we are in unrepentant serious sin as born again Christians, the conviction from the Lord is inescapable. If you are in this sinful lifestyle and not under horribly unbearable conviction than you simply are not born again, and currently are on a path to eternity in Hell. I can tell you this on the authority of God’s Word that is very clear on the subject. Please take a honest look at what God’s Word says on the topic of homosexuality. For example: 1Corinthians 6:9-11
      Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived : neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves , nor the greedy ,nor drunkards, nor revivers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God, And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.

      You may also want to take a look at Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-28, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Timothy 1:10-11, just to name a few. There are many, many more verses that strictly prohibit homosexuality. There is NOT ONE verse blessing same sex relationships. Gods command are clear and you have no excuse to continue in your sin.

      You must repent of your sins , turn away from them and ask Christ to be your savior in order to be born again and saved from eternal judgment in hell. Believing in the exsisence of God doesn’t make you a Christian, Marc.

      I’m going to be praying for you and I truly hope you meet the savior.

  12. I once read a comment that the term “anti-Christ” really meant “instead of Christ” rather than “against Christ”. With that in mind, have we not elevated “family “, among other things, to a place of worship which should only be given to Christ? Certainly God intended for us to live in/have families, but a lot of people don’t. Family, Fun, Food, Fellowship, Political Ideology etc. have all replaced Christ in His church. And we expect the Lord to bless it.. And those who come seeking the “Bread of Life” receive only the spiritual equivalent of “cotton candy”. No wonder they are leaving.

  13. Thanks for the acknowledgement, but your post begs the question, “What are you going to differently?” Recognizing the situation and apologizing is certainly valuable; I don’t mean to diminish that. Without prayerful action, the circumstances for which your are issuing the apology will continue.

  14. There is so much I have to say after reading this post but the most important thing is to say a huge THANK YOU from all of us “out here”, John. As a freshly minted new widow which qualifies me as being a single again, I oftentimes feel as if I have some sort of awful disease. When I went through a terribly tough patch about two weeks ago and shared my feelings with somebody in leadership at the church where I HAD been attending, I got a litany of … well WE did this for you (called you on the phone), I sent you scripture references (oh… yes… pointing out the errors in my ways), YOU walked past US when you came into the service one Wednesday night and sat by yourself… (Did anybody think that maybe I didn’t see YOU sitting waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over on the side of the auditorium? Could ANY of you have come and invited me to join you?) It went on and on and on… emails with holier-than-thou prayers typed into the body of the email does nothing when what you need is an arm around your shoulder and/or somebody who will actually cry WITH you. Sorry for the rant here… I didn’t choose to be a widow. It is the loneliest place I have EVER been in my life. Yes. God is ALWAYS with me. HE has EVERYTHING I need… but I am lonely and I am human and the “church body” is really missing the mark. Now… I am stepping down from my soap box and going to go out and enjoy some sunshine!

    • Hi Grammyg53! I’ve never been married before but my mother passed away last year, so I do know how it feel to just to want someone to cry with you and put their arm around you. Sending an air hug your way 🙂 Be blessed and I pray that God put someone in your life to be that friend for you.

  15. A thoughtful necessary owning of unconscious and painful exclusion we partnered/married people commit far to many times. I would like you to think about the phrase: “child of God”. Parents hope and watch their children become adults. And you are addressing adult; ‘adults of God’. Persons belonging to God, many ways to say that phrase…but child of God is outdated and I fear demeaning and condescending to grown adults.

    • Matthew 18: 1-5
      At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

      God calls us to be His children – adopted sons and daughters. Could there be a greater honor?

    • Kay – “child of God” refers to the fact that God is my father. No matter how old I become I am still my father Rick’s daughter. I will always be my dad’s child because he will always be my father. It’s not relative to my age, but speaks more to my position. I am thrilled to be called a “child of God” because it reminds me of my position as a co-inheritor with Christ! 🙂

    • If the phrase “Child of God” is outdated, demeaning and condescending then, as a very grown adult, I am happily ready to being addressed as outdated, demeaned and condescended upon. There is no greater honor than to be thought of as a “Child of God”… I absolutely LOVE the idea of going to my Heavenly Father and sitting on His lap. Especially during these dark days of grief and mourning…

      People still give me a strange look from time to time when they hear me call my precious earthly father, Daddy. He is no longer here on earth but he will ALWAYS be my Daddy. Just the word warms my heart.

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  17. Thank you very much. Your words matter. Tears fell. Thank you for being so thoughtful. I wish every priest, pastor, rabbi, and bishop could/would read this.

  18. This priest sounds a little small. What makes him think that ‘he’ has failed me in any way? What makes him think I am Any of those things? I very happy being single. I love being single, because I think God has something better in mind for me, and it’s not about listening to people who think I need their help.
    You know something; sometimes God’s answer is NO.

  19. Thank you. My hope is that your words start a spark and ignite churches to include everyone. Knowing that I am whole and useful in the eyes of Christ should be sufficient but we all need support from fellow travelers on this rocky road through life.

  20. Thanks for this. I am a single woman who doesn’t hate being single. In fact, I love it! Like St. Paul, I wish everyone would stay single…it’s a happy way to be. The reasons for that are very many. I am so grateful to the Lord for showing me that He is not just enough, but WOW!

  21. Pingback: A Pastor’s Apology To The Single Community | x2plive

  22. Thank you. I sometimes have to be reminded that not every servant in the Bible was part of a “two”: Paul, Miriam, Ruth, Jeremiah, Elijah, Mary, Martha…Some of these may have been married or become married, but for the majority of their tenure in the Scripture, they are mentioned alone, singly, or as widowed…Why? Because there is more than one type of saint/Christian, who can serve God.

    I appreciate your thoughts and apology on the subject, but we singles must make up our minds to take up our cross and follow Him daily, like the saints of old. Until we decide to leave all our burdens at the feet of Jesus, then we can’t serve Him to the extent that we could.

    Do I personally feel lonely when the service/series is focused on marriage and family? Sometimes. But, I don’t begrudge my married fellow-servants the need to be fed in such a way, and I can still apply what’s being said to my current life. (If you left off preaching on those subjects, then Satan would have even more leverage for his crowbar that loves to smash in the windows of the Home.) “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) It doesn’t matter if I’m left out of the main of that discussion because God can still minister through His Word to me, and He knows precisely where I am as His child and can comfort me when I need it.

  23. John, I so much enjoy and appreciate your posts (been following you for a while now). You have such a way with words, such wisdom, empathy and humility! Thank you! I especially like your support of us in the GLBT community, but I’ve been there with the singleness issue in church as well. I wish you pastored a church in my area (Twin Cities, MN). I’d actually give church another try! 🙂 In the mean time, I’ll just “do church” via your blogs.

  24. That was so well said. Now what is going to change that the body of Christ will see the value in every single, divorced, widowed person in its midst? I would like to know. Thank you John.

  25. YES Finally a pastor that gets it!! Thank you for your words. Being part of a Christian community is so difficult when you are single, so often the sermons, outreach’s and small groups are marriage and family focused and its hard to find your place when you can’t be part of certain things because you are single. I am not single by choice, I am single because God has not placed someone in my life that is to be my mate.

  26. Very well written. I think it is relevant too. I see a lot of neglect of singles, young adults, etc… in the church today. Apologies mean nothing if something does not change. Recognizing the problem is the first step – some churches neglect singles and think nothing of it.

  27. As a Pastor… who has been both married and now single(d), I have a couple of reactions.

    First, I am always wary of “apologies” and “confessions” that fail to “apologize” for, or “confess” someone’s own sins. You spend a lot of time and effort confessing “our” sins and apologizing for the mythical “we.” If you’re going to confess a sin or apologize for a fault, remember your basic CPE and start with “I.” Indeed, I have many places where I have failed single people and ultimately I, as a Pastor, need to own up to those things.

    Secondly, as a single man (and as a Pastor), many of these things you spend time fretting about, I just don’t see. Am I “marginalized” because marriage is extolled? I don’t feel so. Part of my singleness is to become able to celebrate other’s successful marriages and anniversaries. Their happy marriages are not a reflection on my singleness nor on my failures in marriage. Indeed, it IS a struggle as a divorced person to stand up and marry some couple. But that comes with the territory. And I have had many widows and widowers who likewise remember their spouses when a couple comes into our corporate life together. Does that mean that “everyone” feels like I do? NO. But “singles” are not of a single (pun intended) voice or view on the matter.

    Which brings me to my third thought: “singleness” is a diverse and complicated phenomenon. Some single people experience their “singlehood” as a blessing. Some singles see it as an exile or a burden. Some of us hope that it will indeed be a “temporary affliction” that we will see the end of. Some of us see it as a blessed condition that we hope will never end. But for God’s sake…PLEASE STOP TRYING TO ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW US ALL. You don’t have to try to speak to all of us, or for all of us. That’s the most frustrating part of the whole thing. You “apologize” because you assume that you now “get it,” like somehow we’re a puzzle that you now suddenly figure out. But we’re not a puzzle or a “thing” at all. We’re people. Complicated, messy, people. Just like the married families that you deal with, we come with many variations and moving pieces. Don’t treat us as monolithic or static “things.”

    Anyway, peace be with you.
    Pr. Jerry Kliner

  28. As a single person who has felt that “awkwardness” all to often, I appreciate the thought. I will also add: don’t just stop here at the words. Single people in church, especially single PARENTS, need specific ministry. We need soft responses to our quandaries. We need real-live concern for our struggles-and believe me, “the SINGLE struggle is REAL.” We need an understanding place to discuss issues like SEX, DESIRE TO BE MARRIED, COURTING/DATING, all of this WITHOUT JUDGMENT. Without awkard looks and backward glances and gasps of disbelief. YES-single people are whole, but many of us desire to be married. Many of us want to know it’s ok to want a husband or wife. We want days out without our kids. Offer a single parents night out where all the married couples watch the kids of single parents so that they can have some time to themselves. We want t be able to attend church functions without hearing “N CHILDCARE AVAILABLE.” MAKE CHILDCARE AVAILABLE for all single parents. And make sure its FREE. Offer to have a home cleanup for all the single mommies and daddies. Offer to send the children of single parents to summer camp. Offer to pay some bills for the single parents. THIS is ministry. Get the married people to mentor single folks where they can be soft landings for those weak moments of indiscretion. Yes single people struggle with sex whether you want to believe that or not. And instead of condemnation offer to just listen and comfort. No, of course it’s not right. But many of us have been single for what feels like eons and just want to be touched by a human person. Offer t have speakers at church specifically tailored for your single crew. When talking about “marriage and family” be willing to LEARN about the construction and daily lives of single parent households/ And do so without labeling that home life as wrong. Understand that single parenting comes with so many obstacles. Get a single parents perspective on things and include that in your sermon. I know this is a lot but i felt led to share for REAL my thoughts.

  29. I’m sorry, but I look at this post as an apology that is geared towards people battling loneliness rather than singleness. There is nothing wrong with being single. Everyone started out single at some point. It’s no different than waiting in line at a grocery store..you wait your turn. We all know how frustrating that can be when you can see people before you with a cart of food and tons of coupons. However, the more important thing to consider is being able to be a blessing during the time of your singleness. Being single in the church affords you the opportunity to serve more…to give more…to do more. Have we forgotten that the greatest of all is servant of all. Because, when your family shows up, your time is devoted to your family and it becomes difficult to serve as you would when you were single. Being single is a gift. During the time of my singleness, my biggest enemy was loneliness. I hated to feel lonely. It was the devils kryptonite to make me feel bad about God’s timing to bring me a family. Trust me, there are married couples who sometimes realize they did not appreciate their singleness. They did not serve as well as they could. A single person should not feel as though they are isolated or in a class to themselves. It’s all about perspective. However, if you are constantly battling loneliness, then you would be more apt to feel this separation. Being single is the best opportunity to be the best you can be to and for others. Let’s not forget, this is the Kingdom of God we’re talking about. How many angels come to Jesus daily about when is their spouse coming? Loneliness is the enemy here. If a single person carries a segregated perspective to church, then pastors such as these will feel obligated to apologize to someone whose battle of loneliness has been projected upon them and the church body. It is always best to bloom where you’re planted. The best you is discovered when you are in a position to be a blessing. Give and it will be given back to you.

    • I can’t disagree more Troubleshooter. I am happily single and I still feel that the church constantly looks down on me and my situation as being something that is only for a period of time as opposed to the life that God has given to me. I have constantly discussed the fact that it I find that most churches do not provide a way to encourage single people to get involved. So much time is spent focused on family and marriage that encouraging those who are single to get involved and stay involved is quite often forgotten. To claim that single people are merely lonely and should appreciate the situation of their present state is to say that marriage will come, make do.

      • I agree, JoyAnna S! I am contentedly single, I am not looking for a husband. But I do need friends and social activities and I want to be seen as a complete person and not odd because I have never married. I am involved in my church life, but I want to go to ladies prayer times that are not only praying for children, grandchildren and husbands. I am thankful that the Bible studies do not assume all the women involved are married, though there have been a couple of series like that. I can handle some, as long as they aren’t all like that, I can give and take. I just want to be validated by the church and not muzzled because I don’t have a husband, father, or brother to speak for me.

  30. Stunning words, John and so important – i have an ongoing series on my blog called Taboo Topics where i share stories from various rarely spoken of topics and when i wrote on Singleness [i got married at 35 and shared a bunch of stories from friends] it surprised me how popular it was – some incredible stories here and written from such diverse perspectives which is an important thing to remember: https://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/taboo-topics-singleness-intro

    Love how in your apology you didn’t make marriage seem like the goal as is so often the case.
    This was great
    Keep on
    love brett fish

      • That’s rude. She’s not a pastor, she’s the one sitting in church. Last I checked, the guy up in front, talking to everyone – he’s the one that’s supposed to make the plans. If you’re saying the real brains are the people in the pews and NOT the dude talking at everyone…. *gasp* ….I think you just solved the problem with 99% of churches.

    • They could learn even more if they could quit thumping those Bibles and actually read them—especially all of those offensive words in red that scare the living daylights out of them.

  31. I’m 33, unmarried, and I actually found that from my late teens up to mid-twenties, I never really remember feeling ‘single’ so to speak; I didn’t feel the stigmatization as much. But as I got older and my peers were all mostly married or single-parents, I started to be regarded with a sort of restrained suspicion. I could feel the difference in people’s attitudes toward me. I think that there are other variable too. Gender, whether or not you’re a parent, and whether or not you’re closely connected to people of influence in your particular church, all these play in to how excluded (or not) you end up feeling.

    But concerning the article, I agree with what others have said, in that it’s easy to acknowledge the issue but it’s another thing entirely to take an honest look at why it is the way it is, and then be ready to confront the beast head on.

  32. Thank you so much for writing this article! I felt so left out many times as a single person. But I’m reminded that I am a CHILD OF GOD! God bless you!

  33. Thank you so much for this. I have largely stopped going to church, because as a never-married single I often feel like a second class citizen. I feel like there’s no place for a joyfully unmarried person at church – this was the first time I’ve ever heard or seen a pastor acknowledge it, much less apologize. Thank you again!

    • And just think. If you were gay and you chose not to be sexually active in your gayness, not be a gay person married to another gay person of the same sex—and they actually allowed you in their fundie church—your reward would be the same —get treated like crap anyway. Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches are equal opportunity abusers.

  34. Statistically, the majority of American adults are single, whether that be by death of a spouse, divorce, lack of a suitable mate, or simply by choice. I’m so very thankful that my local singles ministry is not a dating pool but is somewhere you can go for healing for your hurts, and for fellowship with others who are in the same situation. We pray together, go on fun outings together, attend revival meetings and conferences together, and volunteer in the community together. Our leaders emphasize never judging anyone for their story or past. It’s an incredible ministry that has changed my life. If you do not have a singles ministry in your church, talk to your pastor immediately about starting one.

    • I have talked to my church for 30 years about starting one! We had a small one, but we finally gave up, the man in charge of the small groups and Sunday school classes was adamantly opposed to our class, kept telling the workers at the information booth that our little group was closed and not allowing new people to be told about us or directed to our class room. One by one, our members moved away, and when the class got down to 4, with one person out half of each month, we gave in and disbanded. My church has decided that while the retired folks are okay to have their own group, everyone else is supposed to be in blended classes, no more singles, newly married, new parents, parents of teens, etc. It is a nice idea in theory, but a lot of us feel brushed aside now, and I keep hoping the ‘pastor’ who came along and made these sweeping changes will go back north where he came from, he has not been a good influence on our pastoral staff or church as a whole, he has caused a lot of hurt.

  35. A friend of mine posted a link to this blog on FB. Here was my response: “How many people have become unchurched simply because of the treatment cited here? I got so tired of visiting churches only to have the women look at me oddly and clutch their husbands; to be the only one sitting conspicuously alone; to be referred to in the sermon as a failure; to never have any commentary that was relevant to my life and my challenges… Of course, since my boyfriend wasn’t present, all manner of assumptions were made. Unless I had friends to go with, I simply would not go. So I don’t. The single population in the U.S. is growing and recent studies show that the amount of people affiliated with organized religion is shrinking. Coincidence? Kudos to this pastor – all of his peers should read this and ponder their behavior.”

  36. Pingback: Un pastor își cere iertare de la tinerii singuri | Nicusoare's Blog

  37. Yes i feel that when i left a certain church and so did my friend, she was treated much nicer about it than me because i think she had kids and was somehow considered more important than me because of it.

    the church fails in many ways and i often wonder how the Lord allows these gaping failures to continue.

  38. Thank you for this!!!! I am a minister and I see it all the time. I have said, we as singles often get look over in the church. There is nothing wrong with being single, saved and satisfied. I minister to single women all the time, enjoy your season of singleness. I am so glad that God block me from saying I do to “Ishmael” God, said no baby trust me wait on my best, the promise “Isaac.” I thank you for this post 🙂 God blessed you, man of God!

  39. An acknowledgement is nice – but as a person who has actively chosen to be single, I find the apology rather unnecessary.

    If there is something important I can share about being single is the fact that it builds a strength and a character that the married experience is disabled in doing – the freedom to love bigger. When you have someone, you are bound to them, you prioritize their needs, and this is especially true when a child is involved, when a child is being raised. When you have no one, you are freer to attend to the needs of the church, to the needs of others, you can invest time and money to a world already hurt and bleeding and be at God’s beck and call to just pack and go to anywhere in the world He may call you to.

    In addition, when you fall, you really have no one but yourself to pick yourself back up. More importantly my singleness has caused me to ask God first for help before I lean on a spouse or another human. This active choice to choose singleness has led me to understand that indeed, exclusive relationships are nice, but ultimately not necessary in the grand scheme of things. I have seen couples so enamored by their families that they have neglected the work of God. I have seen couples get so caught up in each other that they no longer have time for God. And I am not saying that the concept of intimate relationships are to blame as much as the people themselves, but I find that it can prove to be a church’s downfall when we get so caught up in our own families, we do not have time for reaching the lost.

    Our reality is stark – much of the world is still in need of God, in need of having to just hear the Gospel, and it seems that we are willing to disable ourselves from being more effective by placing our need for relationships first, by making marriage the final goal in a person’s life. It is not a popular sentiment I espouse that we need people in church to be single, but I am beginning to see that singleness is a role that more Christians need to embrace over the next 10 years if the church in the West is to survive. Not just singleness for singleness’ sake, but singleness for the sake of serving our world, singleness for the sake of doing the ministry of reconciliation, singleness to be God’s proverbial “hands and feet”, singleness to stand as God’s ambassador where no foot may tread.

    Yes, it is nice to be acknowledged by your apology, but more than anything, I pray that you hear the cry of the world in need. I pray you hear the move of God to have the church create a community of people who actively choose singleness in the name of God. Teach your church to handle singleness. Teach your church to respect the singleness of others. And sometimes, teach those married within the church to stop discouraging singleness. God may be preparing people for His Kingdom work but because the church is so predicated on always finding the “one” or how God has just the right “one” for you, you destroy a ministry that could have been. The harvest is plenty and the workers are few. There truly is more at stake than thinking we single Christians need help. As a Christian who uses his singleness as a tool – don’t get too caught up in your own personal intimate relationships that you have gouged out your eyes to see those perishing in the darkness. Really.

  40. Can I just say thank you so much for this!!! This has been my biggest struggle with staying in church because this is exactly how I have felt. I am a single 34 year old woman who believes that this is the blessed situation in which God has granted me the joy of being in and have often dreamed of finding a church who celebrated and encouraged single people and saw the potential that they have to offer.

  41. Well, this thread has been just too nice, so I am about to spoil it for you—just for fun of course. So here goes with some fundie rhetoric:

    Why are we even dealing with a subject like this? Who cares whether some single man or woman feels lonely and left out at church? It is not the job of the church to coddle people. There are more than 7 billion people on the Earth right now, and almost all of them are going to Hell for an eternal life of damnation, misery, and agony. These are the end times, and Jesus will be back very soon—maybe even tonight. The only thing the church should be concerned about right now is an emergency rescue mission to save as many of these people from Hell as possible!!! The church is about evangelism and outreach through evangelism ONLY. Our sole responsibility is to ask people what the believe, tell them that whatever it is they believe is wrong, tell them what is right to believe, and tell them to get with the program now to save their sorry hides from Hell. If the church is doing anything else—anything else at all but that on this Earth—then that church is apostate and delivered into the hands of Satan.

    Now, all you single people in church!!! You must be single because you have violated God’s will in some way, and He is punishing you for it. Why else would you be alone? You are also in violation of God’s will because God commanded that men and women be in complimentarian relationships with each other in married pairs (male and female only). Without a husband or a wife, you are not a whole person, and you are living outside the will of God for your life. We know why you women are single. You are afraid that if you are married to a man you will be unable to follow God’s command to submit to the authoritative will, control, and leadership of your husband over you and your life inside and outside the household. Staying single allows you to avoid that. The reason you feel isolated at church is because every last one of you is living in the willful sin of singleness when God wants you in a paired relationship like Adam and Eve—the way it was all originally intended to be. I find it absolutely amazing that you can come to church every Sunday living in this “singleness rebellion” against God’s paired plan for your life. You need to repent of these sins and pray for God to find you a husband or wife. Get down on your knees right now and pray, especially you women:

    “Heavenly Father. As a female human, I just came to you to repent of my sin of being single this morning. It was wrong to be by myself, and I admit that many times I wanted to be all alone so I could control my own destiny in life. I know now that I was wrong—and that I flaunted my rebellion by coming alone to church. How shameful I must have looked in the eyes of thy people. Please look into my heart Lord and wash it clean with thy grace. Please find me the man you want me to have as my new husband—and send him to me with a marriage proposal. And Lord. As a woman, I am so sorry for not submitting to my husband’s lordship in my last marriage. I know that I was the reason it all went wrong and ended in divorce—we women are always THE cause of broken marriages—just as Eve broke the entire human race. Please stay my controlling heart and whiplash tongue in my new marriage—and help me to do as my new husband instructs me in all things great and small. This next time around, I promise not to have any sort of life that is my own. I will ask the permission of my husband and children in all that I do. Thank you Lord for helping me to realize that all women are just pitiful, brainless children in search of a man to help make them righteous and complete. Amen.”

    (This message brought to you by the shitheads at your local Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical church.)

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  43. Thank you for this. I currently am taking a hiatus because of this very reason. Seems like everything has been geared towards family, marriage and relationships since the year began. It’s very hard and makes me feel like I’ve somehow been forgotten not only by my church, but by God. I was in an abusive marriage, and when I dared to seek help on 2 different occasions, my church blamed me…I wasn’t submissive enough. I am now divorced, and feel that the church put me to the side now that I’m not in the married class or family class. There’s nothing for me it seems. Sad that nothing changes.

    • Much sympathy, Bobbi D! Don’t give up on God, though, the church’s errors are not His. We need to keep trying to be godly agents of change. My sister has been given the same garbage by her patriarchal pastor and his wife, and she’s now afraid to do much to protect herself for fear of making God mad at her via that pastor. Makes me so upset!

  44. Will you ever answer these questions?

    1.) Is this a play at going viral?

    2.) Are you building an “empire of hits” with the formula “A pastor’s apology to…” whatever pain point you can vaguely identify…?

    3.) Will you ever speak about your own specifics? Or do you always speak in generalities? Jerry Kliner (in the comments) has identified this same thing, but your speaking from the point of view of the “we”… the church leadership in general to the “you” …the singles in general …and it is so empty. It reminds me of the charlatan / mind reader magician who from the stage says to the audience: “There’s someone here who lost a loved one recently, within the last year or so, and feels lonely now, …i have a word from the other side, your loved one has seen your tears and heard your cries, and they are wrapping their arms around your now, so when you feel the wind, it is really them hugging you.” This post is exactly like that: empty.

    4.) why do you write in 1 sentence paragraphs? Is this merely a list of sentences… and i realize lists are good for attracting social media. It seems so cobbled together it strikes me as merely platitudes… or are you intending to write proverbs? Does this structure betray your hubris?

    • Your confusion is a sign you have never met Jesus Christ. Any real Christian would understand what John says easily and perfectly. It is crystal clear. As a professional editor and writer, I can honestly say that John communicates just great, with a unique, kind, and loving voice rarely seen in the invisible church. The mind of Jesus Christ fills almost every word, phrase, and sentence. The issue is not whether John is going some place in this world. The issue is whether Jesus is going out into the world through John’s words. He is. Thousands upon thousands of people worldwide are listening. People are drawn to Jesus through his writing. Jesus is quite likely the single most dangerous person who ever lived on this Earth, meaning dangerous to people like you. John speaks for the real invisible church of Jesus Christ that you and those like you have been trying to destroy for Satan over the past 100 years. Your utter and total defeat are on their way. Get ready to bend over and kiss you fundie bubble butt goodbye.

      • “Your confusion is a sign you have never met Jesus Christ. ”

        Oh brother. Could it be, that the person sees a likely-clickbait-article link more than anything else? Not everything pastors do is good. To them, it’s all business, which is why churches operate like businesses nowadays.

  45. “…relegated you to the segregated ghettos of Singles Ministry…”
    Even this characterization shows that the church has a long way to go. As a singles’ pastor I spent a fair amount of time educating staff and others about the way they communicated about us as well as to us. A Singles’ Ministry is not a “ghetto.” It can and should be one of the most important parts of a church community. People who thrive in their single life have a better chance of thriving in whatever place God chooses for them.

    Moreover, people are single for many reasons and churches are going to have to acknowledge that. With a divorce rate matching the world “outside,” and with people marrying later in life, or even older men and women losing a spouse, churches have to face the fact that that “single adults’ ministry” and “young adults ministry” are no longer the same thing. It’s time we became the creative offspring of our Creator when it comes to loving this sector of the family. That said, this post is a step in the right direction.

  46. I rarely ever share my thoughts or feelings on Facebook (and I probably will later regret posting this), but after reading this article today, I don’t know if I can ‘let it go’ without saying something, at least, as feeble and incomplete of an attempt as it may be. While I can appreciate this pastor’s perspective and I can sympathize with and understand the feelings of singles who long to be married and have children, I honestly can say that if my pastor were to say these words to me, I think I would look at him bewilderingly, and say, “What? I don’t feel that way. I don’t expect you to cater to my ‘perceived needs’; but rather, I thank you for faithfully preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word: that is what I truly ‘need’. The Bible calls the church to care for the widows; I don’t recall it requiring the church to care for the ‘singles’. I am thankful that you haven’t ‘singled’ me out to cause me to focus on these things to which I shouldn’t even give a thought.” Psalm 68:6 says, “God makes a home for the lonely….”. For 25 years, I have been part of a “home” church that has been like a family to me. Most, if not all, of my closest friends, are married. They have included me as part of their families’ lives and events; they have discipled and mentored me; they have allowed and encouraged me to be part of their children’s lives; their husbands have helped me with anything I have needed; I have been blessed beyond measure! Sure, I have had my “moments” and the marriage/children sermons can be awkward, but 95% of the time, I know that my life, up to this point, as a single person, is my calling—with so many opportunities and blessings that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I humbly thank God for this perspective and know that it is not from me when I have it; and realize maybe I am the weird one. Do I have issues? Yes, too many to name, but they are not because I am “single”; they are because I am a fallen sinner, in need of God’s saving and sanctifying grace. If I were married, I would still have issues, just different ones. One of the greatest struggles as a single person can be the tendency to focus on ourselves; to me, articles like this feed that temptation. Just yesterday, I read a quote by John Piper that said, “I felt best when I was not aware of being a feeling one at all.” Then, I read a quote from Tim Keller which read, “This is gospel-humility, blessed self-forgetfulness. Not thinking less of myself as in modern cultures, or less of myself as in traditional cultures. Simply thinking of myself less.” Let’s encourage each other to think of ourselves ‘less’ and to think more of Christ and His kingdom.

  47. THANK YOU for this. With every inch of my being: THANK YOU. I’m a single woman who’s served in various ministries for 15 years while being layed aside, looked over, mistreated. Your words are perfect. And perfectly timed.

  48. Pingback: A Pastor’s Apology to the Single Community! | launch Weblog

  49. That’s okay. Perhaps you could preach a sermon on Isaiah 56, Psalm 49, or 1 Corinthians 7 and tell your congregation that having a “happy” family that looks good to their neighbors won’t justify them before God on the day of judgment. Perhaps families attend your church and think that because their lives seem to be going well and they are well-liked at the church, therefore it is well with their souls, while in truth they are trusting in their worldly success rather than in the grace of God. Preach that until it is clear to everyone in your church that we are all one in Christ, that those who are married should be as though they are not and that those who buy things should be as though they don’t possess them. Preach Christ, repentance, and salvation instead of “Marriage” or “Family”. Preach that we are to love Christ more than our father, our mother, our wife, or our children and are to forsake all things in order to follow Him. Preach that until your church hears you and the unregenerate in your pews cry out, “What must we do to be saved?” Preach like this and then your words above will have fuller meaning.

    • Sin. Judgement. Salvation. Legalism. The Christian faith is all about this—and nothing else. Spoken like the seemple-monded moron that you obviously are. Thank you for making Jesus look like a moron too and setting the example that is running millions of people away from the Christian faith every day.

  50. Thank you! That is most important thing to say. As a single of 30 years, I have felt all those things, so took a solitary path to Christ. I’m not single or childless by choice; but will not enter into a relationship just for the sake of being a couple. And, for medical reasons I could not have children. Thank you again for seeing the light.

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  52. Thank you for saying what I tried to convey to my church leadership, which continues to fall on deaf ears. I was the singles ministry leader for 5 years as a single woman and fully understood the needs of those singles who attended church. Sadly you are correct, the ministry to singles is still often overlooked and discarded.

  53. I do believe the apology/sentiments are real and heartfelt. Thank you. Now, what will our churches and our pastors do to support, include and embrace singles (regardless the reason they are single)? If true efforts are made to rectify this situation than further apologies will not be necessary every few months.

  54. Years ago when I was 30 and STILL single, I was given a book by my very religious mother titled Lady in Waiting about becoming one’s best for God while waiting for Mr. Right. Seriously? That is the worst title and premise for a book. How about a book about the wonderful freedoms and joys of being single and not bound by the chains of patriarchy? So few churches had anything relevant or respectful to offer or say to me in that season of life.

  55. I love this so much. Every one will stand before God as a single person. Every.ONE. I’m sick of how so many churches don’t’ have a place for people who are not’ married. How when you bring it up you are told this isn’t the direction the church is going in, not where they choose to focus. and how single people are treated as half a citizen. God isn’t that way. And in a society where more than half of the adult population is single. What is wrong with the church?????

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  57. You know what.
    My bible and my lord and savior says in his word that if(IF) you can handle staying single that is a good thing because a married man is concerned about his wife, and a married woman is concerned about her husband but a single person is concerned about the lord and heavenly things so I don’t understand why everyone is complaining about let’s be happy don’t worry and start a revival in the lord and try to bring this country and as many sinners to the lord as he permits. If you feel left out stop complaining and start a over 30 singles group in your church and don’t take no for a answer push until the pastor says ok lets be all one big family like we are supposed to be

  58. A friend shared this with me and all I can say is “Wow” and “Thank, you!”. I have read other articles/blog posts from pastors addressing singles like this but this is the only one I have read where I felt like the nail was truly hit on the head. Sometimes I feel like singles are treated as an afterthought and there are no messages to encourage us (at least not at my church.) It’s frustrating and I’ve even asked God why doesn’t the church even care about us. Also I feel like the church’s view of single people is too narrow. It’s assumed all singles want to get married. Whether we want to get married or not we need encouragement. Being a single woman in her late 30s has been tough. I’ve resigned myself to thinking I don’t matter as a single person in church.

  59. I go to a church in Los Angeles where 75% of us are single. That being said, there are places for us to go on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like this article. For our church, it would have to be to the married couples and families. Yes, we have them.

  60. Lengthy apologies might relieve some perceived guilt on the pastor’s part but it does nothing for the singles in the congregation if the church doesn’t change how it treats said individuals. An apology with no indication of even an attempt at initiating change in the church is questionable at best.

  61. This is great…but…how are you going to lead the church in a new way. I’m a single parent, always have been. I’m that weird place between single and not a “whole family”. Assumptions I’m a threat or want your husband. No! Have you met your husband? I’m happily single and feel more at home in the mess of a world than I am in church.

  62. This is all good, but now that you know the flaw, how can you *actively* help the singles? I have a suggestion to all singles pastors / priests / ministers on the planet. Let the senior pastor pastor the general congregation and let the Singles pastors live up to their namesakes and titles. Pastor the single people. Do not treat them as Christians who happen to be single, but as singles. Discuss issues relevant to singles. Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, you must invite all singles who want marriage to gather together with you in one place to engage in collective and congregational prayer for the blessing of their desire for marriage. It is your responsibility to pray OVER them, not just for them. There is power in collective prayer. Imagine ten thousand singles all praying the same prayer, that the would find their husband or wife. I think God would honor this.

    • Oh, please, a singles group is NOT for the purpose of finding spouses! A singles pastor/singles group is for single people to glorify God in the situation He has given them, whether they ever marry, want to marry, or not. Pray for each person to be committed to serving God, and becoming more like Jesus! “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added…” Concentrate on holiness, seeking God’s will, and if a spouse is part of God’s plan, that will happen in the course of obedience to His commands.

      • >Oh, please, a singles group is NOT for the purpose of finding spouses!

        I didn’t say it was.

        >A singles pastor/singles group is for single people to glorify God
        >in the situation He has given them, whether they ever marry,
        >want to marry, or not.

        I agree. However, that is not their only task. In my experience, single brothers and sisters in Christ tend to fall into one of the categories (not eventually distributed of course): those who are happy in their singleness, those who are indifferent to marriage, and those who, like in the vein of Hannah in 1 Sam 1, are begging God for a husband or wife. As to the first group, more power to them. As to the third group, that is where collective prayer comes in. Many are in horrible pain, like Hannah, because they are single. The difference, of course, is that Hannah wanted a son, not a husband. If a minister ignores that pain and doesn’t minister to it, they are not helping.

        Consider the Word of God. “It is not *good* for the man to be alone.” Seven times we read in Genesis, “and God saw that it was good.” Then the first thing God saw that wasn’t good was man’s aloneness. Solomon, the wisest man in history, wrote, “He who finds a wife, finds what is *good* and receives favor from the Lord.” Consider that Jesus compared himself not as the “parent”, but as the groom. Jesus elevated the spousal relationship above that of the parent / child relationship.

        If the decision to marry is the second most important decision a person will ever make in their lifetime, second only to deciding to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, then prayer, and I mean collective, congregational, and communal prayer, is warranted. Because if the Church does not involve God in the courtship and marriage process, the divorce rate will continue to be what it is amongst those in the Church.

        My argument is that if a church bothers to call the department the “singles” department, but then fails to pastor and teach to the specifics of that demographic, they are doing a disservice to that demographic.

        >Pray for each person to be committed to serving God, and becoming more like Jesus!

        Correct.

  63. I was single for over 18 years after a long marriage. Not one time was I invited by a layperson, in my church, to have lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Gangs were meeting. Couples. Friends. But as a single, attractive woman, I wasn’t welcome. The only ones to invite me was my gal friend, pastor’s wife & her husband.
    There was no change in me or my love for people & love for God. I didn’t have infectious sores all over my body. And I have no interest in your beloved husband. Hate & insecurity can break hearts & spirits. Especially in the row of singles you chose to ignore.
    Thanks for noticing us. We have been here making you uncomfortable for a long time. We are full of love & glad to share our insight.

  64. Churches are for families. Period. Full-stop.

    Churches also don’t want single men as pastors. Period. Full-stop.

    Churches also have extremely questionable expenses (particularly large churches, with full-time staff, fancy buildings, etc.).

    Churches also seem to favor nepotism/cronyism over genuine leadership, and when I see the pastor driving a car nicer than the poorest person there, there’s a huge problem.

    I love Lord Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit and God the Father more than anything else in this world…but the man-made Church is something I have little desire to be part of nowadays, as a single person or person who wants to make my donations go far.

  65. “You are The Church.” – If by Church you mean followers of Christ as a whole, then yes. If you mean the physical church, then we are not. We have been made quite aware that we are not wanted.

    “You are not second class Christians.” – Third class would be more appropriate. Many in church see us as best as inferior Christians, and at worst as some kind of garbage that is undeserving of anything God or the church can provide. And the older the single gets, the worse people think of them. And where does most of the hated of Christian singles come from? The prime, but certainly not only, source is almost always from the seniors in the church; people who got married as 16-20, because in their day that is how it was.

    “You are not inferior members of our communities.” – Tell that to those in the church, leadership and membership, who think just that very thing. Since we’re not married and producing children, we are inferior.

    “You are not worth less than those who have found married life a reality.” – Yes we are. We do not have kids, and families are what churches today are all about. All we’re good for is free labor, so as long as it does not involve any kind of ministry. And that is only true if the church tolerates us even being around.

    “It is not a sign that your faith is suspect or that your prayers are not earnest or that your goodness is at all in doubt.” – According to many, yes it is. Last church I attended, the pastor said this very thing, albeit with just a little different wording.

    “It is not proof of your character flaws or your moral failings or your lack of value.” – See above.

    “You may not remain single forever, however if you do, that is not a defeat and it is not a compromise.” – Many of us feel like if we never marry, it is a failure and defeat. We are lonely; we want to be able to come home to a loving spouse, our kids greeting us when we walk in, a companion to share our life with, a lover with whom we can enjoy a sex life as God intended, and knowing we will have someone, be it our spouse, or children or both, until the day we die.

    “You are a child of God. There is never wrong or loss or failure in that.” – Yes we are, but God is not physically here with us. We’re human, and by his design we desire human companionship.

    “You are not currently incomplete, biding time, just awaiting to be made half of something else.” – We may or may not be incomplete, but we sure feel like it.

    “You are a beautiful whole human being, made singularly and perfectly in the image of God.” – Tell that to the countless people who see anyone over 25 and single as being some kind of grotesque monster.

  66. And to explain by fairly cynical comments above. Sadly, this article does not change anything. Churches will continue going on as always, rejecting singles and only focusing on families, kids, and seniors. The last church I attended decided to actively get rid of all singles that attended, and at the time it was probably around 100, not counting undergrad college students, the only singles that churches still love. They did everything they could to get rid of us by making the church as unwelcoming as possible. On top of that, a “marriage” sermon was delivered that was really just the final straw that resulting in the number of single people left after that to be countable on one hand.

    The sermon said that those of us who are lacking “God’s gift of marriage” are because of “unconfessed sin,” “weak/lacking faith” or aren’t really Christians and God is punishing us. To be told that when we are lonely, hurting, and desperately wanting the happiness other have, it is like driving a knife right through our heart and through our faith.

    I have no desire to attend church again. As a single, I am not wanted so why should I give up one of the two days I actually get to sleep more than 3-4 hours to go be around people who at best will whisper behind my back, or reject me to my face at worst? I can worship God on my own.

  67. Pingback: How Are We Doing As Pastors With Divorce | Pentecostal Theology

  68. Just recently I left a church I had been going to for four years. I felt like the Pastor owed me an apology. In the whole four years that I was going there, it was never a great experience. The Congregation was mostly very old people and they were very clicky. There were lots of times when I would be at the reception/refreshments area and no one would talk to me.

    I had a counseling session with the Pastor and I told him that I feel lonely. He told me, “people avoid you because they sense that you don’t feel comfortable with other people”. I was very floored when he said that. Needless to say, I didn’t go back after that.

    I am 60 years old and never been married with no kids. I have been going to church a little over 35 years. After I turned 30 it was all downhill. I don’t remember a real nice experience at a church for a good long time.

    I love God and worship Him. I never want that to ever go away from my life. Also I don’t want to give up on church either, even though it makes sense for me to do that.

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