Here’s an easy ‘how-to’ guide to guarantee you’ll easily alienate and discourage the singles in your church. Pastors, leaders and married couples within your congregation should be appraised of the correct procedures.

Let’s begin with one that seems to come so naturally within some churches:

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1.

The Pastor should always keep the focus of their church on the significant people within your church, ie the married couples:

  • if there’s an engagement or a marriage in your church, reinforce with the congregation the undeniable truth that our highest aim (after being a Christian) should be marriage;

  • regularly provide sermons about the duties of a Christian wife and/or husband and connect that with the relationship between Jesus and the church; and

  • every mother’s day, father’s day, or whenever there’s a birth, share a talk about the significance of parenthood, within marriage of course.

2.

Never share a sermon about the roles which singles might play in the church, and instead:

  • the Pastor should remind singles as often as possible (with a wink and a nudge) that they know that singles are probably too busy looking for a significant ‘other’ to put time towards important church tasks and activities; and

  • never suggest that God used single people in the Bible in amazing ways such as Paul, Jeremiah and that other guy … who was that? Oh yes, Jesus.

3.

On the rare occasions a Pastor does mention singles, they should always:

  • remind everyone that singles are desperate for marriage;

  • suggest that singles can’t control their sexual urges unlike married people who never think about sex because they already have a spouse;

  • encourage them to work towards becoming the best wife/husband possible;

  • and while not saying it out loud, suggest that singleness is kind of like a disease and marriage is the cure; and

  • while they’re waiting for ‘the one,’ they can take on the ministries which couples shouldn’t be expected to do (see details in the following segment.)

4.

Everyone should be made aware that singles are generally only good for certain, less important tasks within the church:

  • at least the church is guaranteed that there’ll always be someone to do the tedious and unimportant jobs like gardening, cleaning and church maintenance and looking after the children’s ministries;

  • the important roles and tasks within the church will then be available to those who have proven that they’re trustworthy and mature: the married people;

  • encourage the single women and widows to form a sewing or quilting club or similar kinds of ‘girly’ hobbies to keep them occupied, besides it will help them to feel useful rather than just spending their time looking out of windows, sighing and day-dreaming about when their prince will come;

  • encourage the older widows and widowers to mentor the younger singles because that’s all the old people can really do now they’re no longer married and are lacking in any real skills and abilities, except perhaps for serving in the kitchen after the church service;

  • avoid assigning any tasks to divorcees who have demonstrated clearly by their failed marriage that they’re lacking in maturity and therefore can’t ever be trusted with anything again, so then they can spend that time figuring out what their sins were and where they went so horribly wrong; and

  • remind the singles on a regular basis that when they get married, they can finally be trusted to take on the more vital roles within the church because it’s essential that they’re never allowed to forget what their most important aim in life is (oh, after God that is.)

5.

Make sure that the parishioners recognise how incomplete the singles in their midst are. The married folk should pray for a Christian partner for those poor, desperate singles, and specifically that God will help the individual to figure out what is wrong with them. Couples should regularly point out to the individuals what their particular faults are so they can fix their emotional, sinful, mental and/or relational issues and finally be worthy of getting married. If they don’t improve, God will continue to punish them with singleness.

6.

Discourage singles from believing that God has a purpose for them while they are single. We all know that they’re just incomplete, useless individuals until they get married when at last they’ll come to know God’s real purpose for them.

7.

Remind singles that sex is wonderful within a marriage and if they’d only snaffle up a partner, they could learn all about it. Reminders should be included in sermons and conversations about how beautiful intimacy is (within marriage) because otherwise the singles might forget what they’re missing out on. This will encourage them to work extra hard to find that elusive partner.

8.

When it comes to ministry work besides working with children, encourage the singles:

  • if they’re protestants, to think about switching to the Catholic church, where the options for singles are more clear-cut; or

  • to seriously consider missionary work, because everyone knows that it’s pretty much the only thing at which they’re going to any good – besides, at least in a foreign country they won’t make a mess of things … with anyone important.

9.

When it comes to singles activities or groups, church leaders should:

  • if necessary, encourage the singles to start up their own Bible Study, but only if it’s led by a married couple whose maturity will help keep things on track and ensure the singles keep their hormones and conversations under control;

  • if the Bible Study goes well, the singles will hopefully pair off, get married and then start a new Bible Study for married people on their own;

  • sigh loudly and roll your eyes whenever the singles ask to hold an event or to use the church building for a single’s activity, so it will be clear how much of a bother it is;

  • make it plain that you’re uncomfortable with singles groups because they’re only a ‘meat market’ and can’t possibly be any source of help or encouragement for the singles in their Christian walk or when they’re having struggles, because everyone knows that when you’re single you don’t have any real problems;

  • if they’re annoyingly persistent about having an activity, urge them to find another location and hope they’ll stop bothering you with it, because they should understand that you’re married and have more important things at home and at church to focus on; and

  • make sure you ‘forget’ to include the notice about the event in the church bulletin.

10.

When singles ask for counselling or for help:

  • they should be placed towards the bottom of the list of your pastoral duties, because everyone knows that singles don’t have any real problems and if they do have any issues, they’ll be fixed once they’re married; and

  • never provide counselling for a single person of the opposite sex unless your spouse sits in on the appointment because you don’t want to encourage the single person to fall in love with you or be tempted because hey, you’re in a position of power and authority and will obviously prove irresistible to them.

11.

Whenever a new single person attends your church, invite them to lunch at your home and organise for another single person of the opposite sex from your church to attend. Any awkwardness will eventually be overcome when they fall in love. You don’t need to take into consideration whether they have anything in common because as everyone knows, they’re both so desperate, they’ll take anyone.

12.

The Pastor and church leaders shouldn’t discourage the beliefs of some singles:

  • that other singles of the same sex are competition;

  • that it’s acceptable to ignore or be rude to singles of the opposite sex if they aren’t suitable marriage material, and to treat them with condescension – that way the other person won’t get any romantic ideas; and

  • that there is only ever going to be one person or soulmate in the entire world for them.

13.

Singles should be discouraged from:

  • coming across as too happy, smiling or friendly because people will think the single person wants to romantically pursue them, even if that person is married; and

  • nor should the single person attempt to strike up a conversation with a married person of the opposite sex and if they do, not to be surprised if their spouse possessively grabs hold of their partner’s arm in a clear ‘hands off’ signal.

14.

Ensure that most church resources, courses, dvds and church camps/conferences:

  • are about relationships and maintaining a healthy marriage; or

  • are about snapping up a spouse:

(a) and  women should appear more submissive (particularly if they have a strong personality) and not show off her intelligence because it will scare off potential mates; and

(b) the men should be encouraged to just be themselves because there’s generally an over-abundance of single Christian women so the guys can have their pick of them no matter how slovenly or grossly they behave; but on the other hand

  • don’t provide anything about marital break-ups because you don’t want to encourage divorcees to think that your church believes that divorce is acceptable under any circumstances.

15.

Discourage singles from becoming foster parents or adopting orphaned children because they’ll never be able to provide a balanced parenting role for the children without a partner, and then the child will grow up with problems.

16.

Regularly encourage singles by:

  • asking them “Have you found a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?” because they may have forgotten their most important goal;

  • requesting that the widows and widowers in the church set up blind dates for their younger counterparts, and that way both groups will feel useful and wanted;

  • implying that they’re single because they’re too picky and should be happy just to take anyone who’s a Christian;

  • quoting verses at them about being patient in the Lord, focussing on God, and praying more earnestly;

  • reminding them that perhaps the reason they’re still single is because God wants to teach them something important so they’ll develop into a more marriage-worthy person;

  • suggesting that the reason they’re still alone is because they are committing a sin;

  • encouraging them to lose weight or wear nicer clothes so they’ll be more attractive, or perhaps to improve their personality if they’re ‘facially unfortunate;’

  • telling them to stop looking or appearing desperate, because the moment they do and start accept being single, their spouse will suddenly appear!

  • suggesting ways they can find a partner such as Christian dating websites, Bible college or Christian singles camps where they’ll find a smorgasbord of potential partners; and

  • reminding them often about how much more fulfilled and contented they’ll be when they’re married so it’s worth fixing up any of their small, existing problems while they wait for ‘the one.’

17.

When pastors and married church leaders meet to discuss hiring a new pastor to a church, they should never consider a single person for the pastoral role because:

  • a single Pastor will be too focussed on finding a spouse and not on the church family;

  • they won’t be able to relate to the important people within the congregation, ie the married couples;

  • they’ll be too focussed on sex;

  • they’ve demonstrated their immaturity simply by not being married, and the longer they remain unmarried, the more likely this will prove to be true;

  • they have a problem with their sexuality or perhaps they like little children which is why they’re not married;

  • they’re likely to cause trouble by dating someone within the church and then have to be fired when it all falls to pieces or it will cause the women to start bitching amongst themselves; or

  • the married parishioners will leave and go to another church where the married pastor understands them.

18.

In the same vein, if there are any other positions that become vacant within the church, discourage any of the single people from applying for what is obviously an important role and should therefore go to a married person.

19.

Talk to the singles as if you understand everything they’re going through because:

  • you were single once and remember what it was like, well sort of, and it was only thirty years ago;

  • all of the issues you dealt with when you were a teenager are still relevant today and nothing has changed; and

  • although you were married when you were nineteen, you’re sure that the issues for older singles, divorcees and widows/widowers will be exactly the same as for single teenagers.

20.

Whenever you organise groups for Bible Studies or adult Sunday School etc:

  • lump like-groups together such as married couples, teenagers, old fogies and singles into their separate groups because they’ll be able to relate better to each other;

  • never consider that mixing up the groups could be beneficial, eg providing insights into the experiences, life challenges and wisdom of different people; and

  • don’t hold group meetings at the home of a single person because it’s probably messy or not set up for more than two or three people.

21.

Remember to always treat singles as if they’re part of your church family: the same way that you treat that weird old bachelor uncle of yours who walks around in his dressing-gown muttering to himself, or your spinster aunt who everyone calls the ‘crazy cat lady.’ [END]

Bibliography:
Graham, Carly Isaac, 28 May 2015, DTS Magazine: Christian Spirituality How the Church Can Encourage Singles, available: www.dts.edu/read/how-the-church-can-encourage-singles/, accessed 01/05/17
No name, 10 March 2017, Passion 374: A place for Singles in the Church, available: www.passion374.com/en/2017/03/10/a-place-for-singles-in-the-church/ accessed 01/05/17
Lindsay (no surname), 17 December 2013, Lindsay’s Thoughts, Just a Girl Figuring Out Her World: 6 Ways to Love Single Women in Your Church, available: www.lindseysthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/6-ways-to-love-single-women-in-your-church/, accessed 01/05/17
Thornett, Emma, 19 August 2013, the Briefing: Satan’s lies about singleness, available: www.matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/08/satans-lies-about-singleness/, accessed 01/05/17
Thebarge, Sarah, undated, “7 reasons why it’s hard to be single in the church,” available: www.sarahthebarge.com/2015/01/7-reasons-why-its-hard-to-be-single-in-the-church/, accessed 03/05/17