Surviving Church When You're Single

Surviving Church When You’re Single

Does your church stereotype its single members? Take this humorous point-based test to score your church on how it treats people who aren’t married.

Surviving Church When You're Single

“Lonely Church” Photo by Eric Torrie.

I must share a brief confession. Single adults, I have failed you.

Although I’ve written a handful of ideas about being single at church, I’ve never really done that topic justice.

So today, I created a list of all the different stereotypes and challenges singles have to navigate when they go to church. From the “get married right this second” friends to the “this guy has a pulse and so do you so maybe that’s enough in common to fall in love” friends, it’s all here.

And I can’t take credit for it. I read your comments about real things that have happened to you at church, got ideas from my single friends, and received a great email from a pastor named Jeff. I took it all and created a point-based scorecard.

Ready to play?

The Surviving Church as a Single Scorecard

1. Your church doesn’t have a singles ministry. = +1 point

2. Your church has a singles ministry, but it’s combined with the college ministry, which creates opportunities for conversations like this: = +2 points

Student: “My roommate bought a microwave for our dorm room. I love being a freshman!”

Single: “My 401K is underperforming.”

3. Your church has a singles ministry, but it’s a triad that combines college, single adults and divorce recovery. = +3 points

4. Your church has a singles ministry, but it’s the dreaded quad, combining college, single adults, divorce recovery and retired widowers who refuse to move to Florida. = +4 points

5. Someone pays you the world’s most backhanded compliment: “I just don’t understand how someone as great as you isn’t married yet.” = +1 point

6. Someone told you, “If you stop looking for love, you’ll find it.” = +2 points for each time you’ve heard that

7. At church, people give you weird looks if you refuse to sit in the “singles” section of the sanctuary. = +1 point

8. When people introduce you, they say, “This is Matt, my single friend.” = +2 points

9. When people introduce you, they feel compelled to list out your accomplishments, “This is Sally, my single friend who owns her own home, drives a luxury sedan, and has a very, very stable job.” = +3 points

10. Your friends who have been married for 15 minutes act like they suddenly don’t remember anything about dating and therefore can’t give you any advice. “It’s been so long since I dated, and things have changed so much. I’m just out of that whole scene.” = +2 points

11. People are constantly volunteering you for things because “you’re single, you’ve got so much free time.” = +1 point

12. People at church act a little surprised when they ask you, “How are you doing?” and you respond with, “Things are great right now. I love my life!” = +1 point

13. Married friends try to live vicariously through you, asking questions like, “What did you do this weekend? Road trip? I bet you went on some crazy cool, singles road trip, right?” = +2 points

14. Someone you just met for the first time said a sentence like this to you, “If you want to get married, you need to _________.” = +2 points

15. Whenever married friends call you at noon on a Saturday, they start the conversation by saying, “Did I just wake you up?” = +3 points

16. You assume that if you don’t get engaged by final exams of your senior year in college you’ll never get married. = -2 points

17. You’ve secretly always wanted your own cat but are afraid that ownership of a single kitten will become some sort of gateway drug to becoming “the cat lady.” = -2 points

18. You’ve ever given an impassioned, enraged monologue on the injustice that men who are single get to age gracefully and be considered “bachelors,” while women are instantly judged as “crazy cat ladies.” = -3 points

19. You’ve got a “don’t perpetuate the cat lady stereotype,” monologue locked and loaded at all times and have already stopped reading this post so you can put it in the comments section. = -5 points

20. Someone has quoted the “it’s not good for man to be alone” Bible verse to you. = +2 points

21. When friends invite you to their church, they start the invite by listing both the quantity and hotness of the singles that go there. = +1 point

22. That friend was named Jon Acuff and he said, “No one in Atlanta should ever involuntarily remain single with so many awesome single people at North Point Community Church.” I’ve said this a lot. My bad. = +3 points

23. Your married friends tip toe around you during February because they think you’re too delicate to handle the completely made up holiday, Valentine’s Day. = +1 point

24. You are too delicate to handle Valentine’s Day and have been known to describe it with a rich tapestry of words no Christian should even know exist, never mind actually say out loud. = +1 point

25. The person who leads the singles ministry at your church got married in 1964. = +10 points for each decade they’ve been married

26. Someone told you, “Maybe you need to focus on being more like a Proverbs 31 woman.” = +2 points for each time it wasn’t sincere encouragement

27. You didn’t know you were supposed to be unhappy as a single adult until you went to church and found the singles ministry to be akin to a support group. = +3 points

28. Upon hearing that you went on a first date with someone, your single friends at church stop inviting you to the single events because “you’re in a relationship already.” = +2 points

29. Upon hearing that you went on two dates, your married friends at church start telling you, “I’ll be praying that this is the one!” = +3 points

30. Your best friend of 15 years gets married and then suddenly acts like a magical gap has opened up between you and decides that, until you get married too, you can’t be close again. Because you just don’t understand each other anymore. = +3 points

31. To justify giving a four-week marriage sermon series to a congregation that is 60% single, the pastor throws out one blanket statement like this at the beginning of the series, “And you single people listen up to this too, this will serve you well when you get married.” = +2 points

32. You set your alarm to “not going to church today” after the first week of the marriage sermon series. = -2 points

33. The only time your married friends invite you over is when they need a babysitter. = +3 points

34. Someone throws the “Paul was never married” card on you. = +2 points

35. Friends assume that the only qualification that matters to you when it comes to finding a date is that she’s available and set you up with people you have nothing in common with. = +2 points

36. You’ve ever said the rhyme, “I’m a bachelor til’ the rapture.” = -1 point

37. During a prayer at church celebrating wedding anniversaries, the person praying says a special prayer for all the people who are still single and lonely. True story. = +1 point

38. Your friend says that creating a dating profile on eHarmony is a sign that you might not be trusting God enough to provide a soul mate. = +1 point

39. You’ve developed highly sensitive, “They’re about to throw the bouquet” radar and know exactly when to leave a wedding. = +2 points

40. Instead of saying that you’re “single,” your friends describe you as “not married yet.” = +2 points

How did you score? Did I miss any? Have you experienced some that just weren’t on that list?

Singles of the world unite, post your score proudly, and when someone tries to stereotype you, tell them Razzle Dazzle, Razzle Dazzle.

Jon AcuffJon Acuff is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author. From writing advertising for The Home Depot to branding for companies like Bose and Staples, he’s no stranger to the cubicle. Jon speaks nationally on a variety of subjects, and is author of three books: Quitter (Lampo Press); Gazelles, Baby Steps And 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt (Lampo Press); and Stuff Christians Like (Zondervan). Jon’s popular blog, Stuff Christians Like, has more than 2 million readers.
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