4 Things Not to Say to Single Women at Church

“Welcome to our church, I’m so glad you could join us! Who are you here with?”

I smile, bracing myself for the conversation I’ve had far too many times before. “I’m here by myself today.” I reach out to shake their hand and ask, “So, how long have you been coming here?”

Ignoring my attempt to change the subject, the other person presses on. “Oh! Are you married? Any kids?”

“No, I’m single.” Sometimes that response is enough and we have a great conversation, but more often than not the person I’m talking to isn’t sure what to say.

Church culture centers so strongly around couples and families that many of us are at a loss when it comes to anyone outside of the supposed Christian norm.

Talking about my frustrations with my friends I have found that I’m not alone. When I bring up what seem like the craziest scenarios I’ve run into, they mention that they’ve experienced the same things, if not worse. Whether single their whole lives, divorced, or widowed, they have encountered many of these same social hurdles time and again.

So, on behalf of single women everywhere, here are a few responses that we church-goers can learn to avoid.

What Not to Say

“Don’t worry, God’s got someone for you.”

By far the most common one I’ve run into, and it’s usually accompanied by a pitying, knowing look, maybe even a comforting hand on my shoulder. This might come as a shock to some, but being single is not an affliction. I might be in the minority here, but I’m actually content with my single life. Maybe God’s got someone for me, maybe He doesn’t, but either way I’ll continue the race He’s set before me. Instead of offering your sympathy, take the time to get to know me to see how I feel about being single.

“Well, don’t worry honey, we’ll take good care of you here!”

Although this one is meant to be comforting, it usually comes across as demeaning. I’m an independent adult, not a forlorn, lost child. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been adopted against my will by well-meaning people in the church, sometimes even by people my own age or younger. I’m looking for community with fellow believers as peers, not an extra parent to “take care” of me.

“You’re single? Oh, so is Jeremy! Here, I’ll introduce you!”

Again, I’m here looking for community, and if I meet someone I’d like to date as a result of that, great! But lay off the matchmaking, especially when you have no idea who I am and what I’m looking for. Waving someone over for an awkward conversation while you look on proudly is not making me feel welcome; it’s creeping me out.

Church culture centers so strongly around couples and families that many of us are at a loss when it comes to anyone outside of the supposed Christian norm Click To Tweet

“Wonderful! We’ve been looking for nursery volunteers. Could you help out next week?”

I truly wish this was a one-time occurrence, but no. Three. Separate. Times. And all at different churches, on my very first visit. Apparently not having kids of my own means I have loads of spare time to take care of everyone else’s.

BIG kudos to those who are called to childrens’ ministry – it’s desperately needed, and a huge blessing to families. I can confidently say this is not my calling, and not sure why my status as single seems to make me a shoe-in for childcare. Plus, what does that say about a church if they’re willing to conscript a complete stranger to watch their babies?

Maybe wait until someone has been a member of the church for a while to learn about their interests, strengths, and weaknesses before approaching them about volunteering on any teams (especially the ones dealing with kids).

What to Say Instead

“Good to meet you!”

I love getting to know new people, and it’s so refreshing when they take the time to get to know me too rather than trying to fix me. You don’t have to figure out where I fit in order for me to be a part of the church family; just be friendly. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a lot to talk about!

“Some friends and I are going to lunch after church. Want to come?”

Since many programs are family-centric it’s sometimes hard for us singles to find ways to plug in. Aside from the dreaded singles ministry (church code for The Dating Game), there are not many options outside of Sunday mornings and maybe small groups.

I value friendships from all different walks of life, so let’s not allow social designations or marital status to become barriers to community. Having a game night? Or a barbecue? Is there a new movie you want to see? Consider inviting the single people in your church to join in.

You might be asking, “why pick on people who are just trying to be friendly? Seems like most of these were offered with good intentions”. And you’re right – I don’t believe these people meant to be anything but helpful. However, we can all (myself included) learn to be better when it comes to welcoming those who don’t always fit our presumptions about what Christian life should look like.

If we can stop making assumptions and instead genuinely engage with the human being in front of us it will make our faith community that much stronger.

Have you heard some of these greetings yourself? Are there other lines you’re tired of hearing? Has someone at church impacted your life with his or her friendship? I want to hear your story. Let me know in the comments!

How to Rock Your Singleness
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February 10, 2020 6:45 pm

These conversations are so true. I was fortunate to find a church that wasn’t set on ‘setting me up’, but it’s a large church so it’s a little easier to ‘blend in’ til I get to know people and them to know me. I am older, but it still applies, just not as frequently.

Ellen Moran Reilly
Ellen Moran Reilly
February 17, 2020 1:48 pm

Yes…it’s difficult being single in Church. I don’t want to date and yet cause I’m single, People want to set me up. Let single people be. God knows their needs and is there for them. That is quite sufficient…

March 7, 2022 12:54 pm

Wow, I’d like to know what church(es) you all attended. And church singles groups? What’s that? Do they even exist anymore? Not here. I was widowed at 39 (now 51) and I absolutely want to find someone and be married again. Since then, I’ve been active with 3 different churches in my city and sadly NO ONE has offered to introduce me to anyone. All that despite being fit, attractive, and educated. Perhaps you’d rather be on your own, but most Christian women don’t. We would love it if friends, family, and the church family step up so we’re not… Read more »

Candy Garcia
Candy Garcia
February 22, 2020 11:24 am

these are excellent tips.I like the what to say instead tips.

Michael Myers
Michael Myers
March 16, 2020 11:04 am

From the perspective of a single guy, we’ve heard many of these things too. #2 of the do this list would be extremely helpful for us too. It seems as if married couples in church only want to spend time with other marrieds, leaving us singles to fend for ourselves trying to find community. If there is no “singles ministry” then often we’re left to do life alone, outside of community. Outside of a few rare circumstances, I’ve not seen couples reach out to singles and those whom I knew as singles, once married often times leave their single friends… Read more »

Betty Peters
September 17, 2022 11:46 pm

I suffer from social anxiety in Church. Especially during the sermon, I find myself either “nodding off” or checking the time. And the preacher laughs, points,, looks at me me and tells the whole congregation in his sermon. Then they laugh at me. I feel like he is constantly staring at me. And after the services, if he embraces me a nd says for example, “I love you sweetie.” I do not know if he “likes” me or if he is just trying to be nice. Because of this, I find myself very uncomfortable around him. Please help!

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