I didn’t get married until I was 36, so I’ve had a lot of experience as a single, professional woman in the church. When I was single, I was in and out of multiple churches where no one even talked to me. I always felt like people looked at me like I had four eyes. Why aren’t you married? Is something wrong with you?
There was no group to which I could belong. I wasn’t married or divorced or a mom so didn’t fit into most groups. I also didn’t fit into the “singles” group among college-aged students and goodness forbid I showed up at a men’s group, which is where my single, male counterparts went, and wanted to talked business. I think they would have choked on their kolaches. Sooooo, I heard a lot of great sermons but never plugged into a church. I never found a church home where I felt included and needed.
I tried church after church, but I never saw a group for me…..a professional unmarried woman. I can remember going to multiple information kiosks and looking through the list of small groups, Sunday school classes, and Bible study classes, but I couldn’t find a group into which I fit. With no other options, I ended up sitting alone on the back row during services and hustling out afterwards to avoid the loneliness. I had no idea that there were other professional singles out there who were feeling the exact same way or who would want to sit together or go to lunch together after service.
And at no time, in all of those years, did any female staff of the church reach out to me. Were there any female staff members? Did those churches have women ministry leaders at all? Or were they volunteers that were doing the best they could just to offer ANY women’s programming, which meant it was on Wednesday at 9:30am when I had a staff meeting? Then, add the undercurrent that the male staff members didn’t seem to want to engage with me. Did they think that just because I was single and a female that I might hit on them? Oh my, why is the single woman labeled that way by men and their wives?
So, as a professional single woman, I was really floating on the outskirts. It seems to be the same today. Who is going to reach out and bridge this gap? Are there even full-time female church staff? Are they aware of the single-by-choice woman? How has the church missed this growing group of us?
It’s not too late to fix this! If you are reading this and thinking, “Yes, that’s me! I’m tired of sitting alone at church but don’t know what to do,” let me encourage you. Connect with your 4word: Local Group. Get to know some of the other single, professional women in your area who are in your same stage of life, and then coordinate going to church together and meeting for lunch after services. Try reaching out to your friend network on social media and gathering friends with which to attend church.
Now, if you are reading this and thinking, “Oh, I have seen her sitting on the back row. But I haven’t ever considered why,” I want to encourage you to reach out to her. Get to know these women, and build friendships with them. Have a ladies-night-out (NOT moms-night-out) and invite them. Yes, it’s good to spend time with other moms from the church, but it’s also good to leave the parenting talk behind and connect with your fellow believers, no matter where they are in life. These women are more than just their relationship and career status. These are amazing, successful, and cherished daughters of our Creator. He wouldn’t relegate them to the back row. No, these women are filled with gifts and talents that are ready to be shared with the world. These women are essential to God’s kingdom, and He has a purpose for them.
What if the church embraced these women for all that they are? What if we saw the unique gifts that each woman has and welcomed opportunities for them to be involved in the church? It’s not too late to create a place where single, professional women are welcomed and valued in their church! What is your part?