Single Friendly Church
Stuart: David, please tell me about ‘Single Friendly Church.’
David: We are a community interest company supporting churches to include single adults - whatever the reason for their singleness. Back in 2014, we launched an organisation called ‘Single Christians’, but many thought it was for dating! So, in 2017, we rebranded it as ‘Single Friendly Church’. Our work has been well received by single people and some church leaders.
Stuart: So not all church leaders embrace the need to emphasise singleness as having equal value to marriage?
David: Well, we’ve been very encouraged to have some high-profile Christian leaders as patrons. Senior figures in the church seem to recognise that more needs to be done to reach out to the 40% of adults in UK who are single and do more to include those already in church. But individual leaders are busy with their existing work. Rather than asking them to start a new area of ministry, we help them by suggesting small but significant changes to their programmes and teaching.
Stuart: What are the key problems you see in how the UK church responds to singleness?
David: Church leaders often appear to programme in order to draw in young families, believing that will bring children and so help the church to grow. But, in over-emphasising the nuclear family (which is not a biblical concept!), they don’t attend to questions that young single people ask, such as “What should I do with my life?”, and lots of these young singles drift away. For older single people, our research shows that their perception of how well churches cater for them declines with age. So, the older someone is, the less positive they tend to be about how their church community includes them.
Stuart: What trends in the UK church give you hope?
David: Although there remains shame and stigma regarding singleness in the church, we see single people in the church supporting each other and growing in their courage to speak up about singleness, rather than remaining silent.
Stuart: Thank you David for all you are doing at ‘Single Friendly Church’ to encourage churches to celebrate singleness and cater better for single people.
To learn more about Single Friendly Church, visit their website at www.singlefriendlychurch.com
Single Friendly Church
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend.