It is no secret that during times of strife people become a lot more open to spirituality and religion.
We can apply this to what people have experienced during the recession. People have been losing jobs and suffered all types of assaults on their lives. Spirituality has played a role in dealing with this situation.
However, there is one segment of people that appear to be getting uneasy as they have attempted to investigate spiritual avenues.
In increasing numbers, unmarried people are expressing frustration with their efforts to grow spiritually. They feel like they may be falling through the cracks when it comes to involvement with churches.
Let me say right up front that the information I am about to relate was derived from discussions I have had with single friends and comments I have read on the Internet.
Therefore, this column is primarily going to be an observational one based on what I have heard others say or write. Don't expect much research data to be presented because it does not seem to exist.
The general consensus from these people is that churches mean well when it comes to serving single people, but they lack the desire or the focus to do it.
For example, a friend of mine who attended a large church in
He said the response he received dealt with the church's attempts to begin a singles ministry and the hope that it would increase the fellowship among unmarried folks.
When my friend heard the term 'singles ministry,' a red flag immediately went up. From his past experience, these types of ministries were nothing more than social organizations that hoped to pair Christians up for marriage.
His needs were not like that. He was not feeling a need for marriage. He simply wanted assistance dealing with the landmines of every day life.
As our culture has changed, so has marriage's role in it. People are single for a variety of reasons. Some are waiting until they have established their careers to get married.
Additionally, there are others who do not have a compelling desire for marriage. Let's face it; marriage is not a cure for everything that ails a person. The divorce rate is high, and many marriages are kept together simply for the sake of children or financial debt.
On the other hand, there are singles who desperately want to be married, but for whatever reason, it has not happened for them. Then, when they attend church functions that seem more geared toward married people and their children, it can be like pouring salt into an open wound.
Because of this, isolation can set in for the single person. A person feels more like an outsider in a church body that is meant to be a family.
This doesn't mean that singles are critical of the focus on families and children. However, many do begin to ask themselves: What about me?
Even good things can be carried too far and this may be the case with the attention churches give to married people and children. Obviously, these people need a lot of attention, but it should not be at the expense of others.
It is apparent that the classic approach of dealing with the needs of singles is not working.
These people are begging for help, but are feeling like lost voices in the wilderness.
There are no easy answers for this. Let's hope churches become more aware that questions are being asked.