In the past, I participated in singles groups through churches I attended in several states.
Though I think there are likely many good church singles groups out there, I also think there is cause for concern for many others. I say this based on my experiences with them, or rather, in them.
When I talk about singles groups, I’m referring to groups for adults beyond the young adult or college and career age in church. You know, I’m talking about groups for us “older folk”—in our 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Perhaps these concerns will be helpful to other individuals so that they're not caught off guard if they decide to attend a singles class or group event through their church.
I would like to make clear that it's not my intent in this article to stereotype unmarried people. I simply want to bring attention to some reasons I've personally chosen to no longer participate in church singles groups.
4 Reasons Why I'm Not Involved in Church Singles Groups
- Many singles are in a hurry to find a partner.
- Some unmarried people are very unhappy.
- Singles groups can be competitive.
- You are conditioned to believe you aren’t complete.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4
1. Some Singles Are Desperate to Be In a Relationship
There are some unmarried guys and gals who are on a mission to find a spouse. You can usually pick up on this right away. Their eagerness is written all over them, and it creates an uncomfortable vibe. You feel like you can’t relax around them, like you’re constantly on guard. You just don’t want them to misinterpret something you do or say as a hint that you’re romantically interested in them, especially if you aren't.
There’s nothing wrong with single adults hoping to meet a significant other. However, that shouldn’t be their main reason for being in a church singles group. It makes them come across as desperate because, well, because they are desperate.
Some individuals who show up at church singles groups are still reeling from a recent divorce and are looking for someone to fill that empty spot. They are used to the intimacy (both physical and emotional) that comes with married life and they miss it. That’s understandable. However, these people are simply not ready to be in a singles group.
This is not a judgment against divorced folk, but these newly single individuals would be best off finding a support group that would help them through the grief process that comes after a divorce. Many churches offer classes such as this for divorcees. It is important that they heal from their previous relationship and be healthy emotionally before they can even begin to think about a new relationship.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
— Philippians 4:11
2. Many Unmarried People Are Discontent
Many singles are bitter, sad, or otherwise miserable.
I don’t mean to criticize people who may be grieving a broken relationship or are recently widowed. I certainly don’t want to make light of what they are going through emotionally.
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However, when you have a high number of people like this in a room, it can create an unhealthy environment.
I have found that many unmarried adults in church singles groups are frustrated about their single status. Others have a lot of baggage they haven’t dealt with from their past, or they just seem to have a chip on their shoulder. Many are resentful about a former relationship that didn’t work out. In some cases, it’s all of the above.
For these reasons, many church singles groups are depressing and even toxic to be in.
Even when you get together with some of these people one-on-one for coffee or dinner, all they seem to want to talk about is their dating life. It's as if everything else in the conversation centers around that topic.
If you try to steer the dialogue in another direction, they may look at you curiously as if there's something wrong with you. I suppose they are wondering how you can talk about anything other than what they perceive to be the most important thing in the universe. Yawn.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
— Matthew 6:33
3. Singles Groups Can Be Competitive
Some church singles groups include some very aggressive people. Let's not forget that many adults show up here because they're looking to meet someone. When they see what they want, they go for it and won't let anyone stand in their way.
You can sometimes feel the tension between the men when they have eyes for the same woman. It's awkward, uncomfortable and makes you want to leave the room for a breath of fresh air! You sometimes also feel sorry for them. It's almost as if they're in a cage, pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what their next move will be.
The women can be just as bad as the men.
If you are even mildly attractive, you may pose a threat to other single women in the group. They may give you dirty looks when they notice a man they are interested in is conversing with you. It's reminiscent of middle school.
The sad thing is that all this competition and cattiness creates a war zone so to speak, rather than a healthy place for adults to interact and enjoy each others' company.
Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.
— Job 1:21
4. Single People Are Led to Think Their Life Isn't as Meaningful Outside of Marriage
I find it very sad that church singles groups often condition you to believe that your life is not as meaningful if you don't have a ring on your finger.
This message is communicated in some of these groups' very topics of study.
- Discovering God’s Plan for You as a Single
- Finding Contentment as a Single Person
- How to Know Your Purpose as a Single
The implication in these very titles is that people who have tied the knot have a higher calling or greater purpose in life than those who haven't. Yet nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that unmarried people have any less value or life purpose than married folk.
This mentality and false teaching leads many Christian singles to walk around with a “I’m half a person” frame of mind. Sometimes they carry themselves as if they believe they're castaways because they’ve bought into this lie that they are less than enough.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5
I think it's natural for many singles to desire to be married. But I also think it's important to not make this the focal point in our lives. Instead, we should learn to be content in our circumstances and find joy in each day.
- Find out what you’re good at and become better at it.
- Practice and refine your skills and talents.
- If you are very unhappy in your current job, start exploring your options.
- Take time to draw closer to God by spending daily time in his Word.
- Don't allow a negative experience with a singles group to stop you from attending worship services. Find a church where you can fellowship with others and grow spiritually.
- Find a church that offers topic-based adult Sunday School classes, such as a class that is studying a specific book of the Bible. These classes usually include a mix of married and single people.
- Pour your energy into a cause you believe in, such as assisting the homeless or volunteering at an animal shelter.
- Love and enjoy your life every single day.
- Become the kind of person you want to meet!
When we live joyfully and purposefully, we will naturally attract people to us and this could eventually lead some of us to meet our significant other. Don’t live for that, but know it.
Don’t settle with somebody just because you can’t bear to be alone. If you feel alone, join a group of people who share your beliefs, values or interests. Many churches have Bible study groups for people from all walks of life. Also, consider meeting people outside of church, such as by attending meetup groups or local book clubs.
© 2019 Madeleine Clays