This is not a how-to guide. It’s an opportunity to engage, laugh, cry and enjoy the ups and downs of the process. This book is a collection of musings, experiences, absurdity and pain. Think of it as the culmination of all those coffees when you and your mates pour over your profile matches, those heartbroken phone calls to comforting friends and the hilarious mishap tales told over pints at the pub. For me, what started as insightful conversations evolved into recorded interviews. Casual Googling turned into research and hours browsing survey data from some of the UK’s biggest Christian dating sites. Disjointed ideas and Instagram opinion polls turned into qualitative data. The stories, opinions and ideas in this book have come from a number of sources (all referenced when mentioned): books, articles, peer-reviewed research, surveys, respondents to my social media questions, direct messages, sermons, the Bible, dating courses or one of the focus groups I hosted in order to explore some of these concepts more deeply. I consulted a group of four women, who from here on will be referred to as ‘All Saints’, and a group of six men I’ve dubbed ‘Foo Fighters’ (there weren’t many six-piece male groups to choose from).”
All the research and discussions have led me to one conclusion: being single in the Church needs a rebrand. Unlike the narrative that has infiltrated our impressionable minds, single people aren’t left on the shelf, lonely, waiting for a suitor, any suitor, to shimmy over after Holy Communion and say: ‘I choose you.’ Some are waiting for the right connection, some aren’t waiting for anything, some have careers and other dependents to prioritise and some are just enjoying window-shopping and dating.
The term ‘marriage-obsessed Church’ may get some people’s backs up, not least church leaders. I would like to clarify that this is the impression I and the single people I have spoken to have been left with in general. It’s Church with a capital ‘C’ and not a reflection of every, or any individual, church. Yours may get this right; it may be ‘mildly marriage-focused’ or even just ‘marriage-complacent’. Regardless of where your church is on the spectrum, I hope you will find something in these pages helpful, as we all have room for improvement.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—1 Corinthians 7: 32-33 (NIV)
Paul advocated for the single life in his letters and his personal thought was that being single frees one up to focus and live for God but he did not say that the single life was not for everyone. The message that single people can get in a church setting is that ‘married is always best’.
In Lauren’s research with the single church life survey she found these interesting statistics:
This is on a spectrum but is proof this attitude is prevalent in some churches.
The below discussion points are meant to be discussed in a group but there are relevant questions depending on if you are in a relationship or not. Take time to discuss openly in the hope that you find empathy and can listen to each others experiences.
If you are not in a relationship
If you are in a relationship