This article is not aimed at any specific church or congregation. It is not meant as a critique of singles ministry. It was provoked by several conversations I recently have had with singles at work and various churches.
In my conversations with singles I was surprised at the numbers of church single groups that discourage dating among their members.
I understand that the church leadership wants the group to be a safe haven for people to go and to avoid the messiness of failed dating relationships and it’s fallout.
I understand that there are predators who prey on trusting believers.
I understand that leaders are operating under the right motives.
But discouraging singles from dating people they go to church with removes the best pool of candidates from their consideration.
As a friend of mine said, “Where are single Christians supposed to go to find a date?”
Are we subtly suggesting they should go to a local bar or rave and pursue missionary dating?
Are we implying that another church has more spiritually mature people than we do? If that were true, shouldn’t we send them there to start with?
This position can communicate that single people are either spiritually immature or too inherently sinful to succeed in dating each other.
Perhaps their relationship will end badly. Maybe it might negatively affect the chemistry of a small singles group. Maybe someone will get hurt emotionally. All of these things could happen. We do live in a fallen world.
But here is what well-meaning church leaders may not be considering.
Being married does not necessarily make you more spiritually mature than a single person.
Let me say this again. Being married does not necessarily make you more spiritually mature than a single person.
I have seen some Christian marriages that ended badly. I have seen a failed marriage negatively affect the chemistry of a small group that has surrounded them. I have seen people chose sides and the division this has caused.
But I have seen Christian marriages that were saved because they lived in community with a group of people who encouraged them.
I have even seen marriages that failed but where the participants were made whole because they interacted with a community that loved them both.
Relationships are messy. I have been married for thirty three years to a wonderful woman. There is no woman who can compare favorably to her. She rocks my world. But it has not always been easy. She has loving encouraged me and sometimes had to confront me with my sin. I know I have grown spiritually because of this relationship.
But I am also owe a tremendous debt to two godly women I dated before I married. Both of them were used by God to make me into the kind of man that my wife would marry. My wife confirmed that she was also blessed with at least one such godly man. I am blessed by the way he prepared her for me.
It has been said that people live up to what you expect of them. If you act like you expect them to fail in relationships they probably will.
Maybe it is time for the Church to change our expectations of dating singles.
Many churches do an awesome job at ministering to singles. I have hopeful that the thoughts provided here will prompt some healthy discussions with the singles you serve.