Why Single People (especially guys) Don’t Go to Church

I’ve edited this to protect the innocent, but I thought this was some great insight on the problem with getting singles and especially guys to attend church. You don’t have to agree, but think about it. This guy is single, young, and not a preacher. It’s worth taking into consideration…

    Ok, I got a few comments/thoughts…

    I got thinking about (while getting ready this morning) why 18-24 year olds don’t come to church, especially single ones. Single guys want to be around single girls or vice versa, or single guys want company of single guys and single girls want company of single girls (in other words people want to be around people like them). But church is mostly made up of older people, kids, and families (both young and old). So single girls/guys that are early 20’s don’t relate real well with the young couples in church that have kids which often talk a lot about kids, kid’s activities, and what type of mini-van to purchase to haul the kids.

    I think the chances of young women coming to church are higher than young men coming to church because I feel the church is . . . sorta feminine. I realized this idea after reading an article in Christian Standard back in Oct. 2006. It explained how a lot of things in church really cater toward the female spectrum rather than the male, and I agree. First off, look at most church buildings. Warm colors on the walls, lavenders, reds, gold, etc. We have pinkish/red pews, and quilts hanging up in some classrooms!! Look at most praise music (and this is a big one for me). Christian music is soft and gentle. Even pop/rock more mainstream, a lot of the artist’s use the same soft vocals, with some edgier riffs and beats, but the voices all blend together. Unless they’re a unique sounding artist, I can’t hardly tell one Christian band from the other. (a few exceptions, such as third day). Then the lyrics in the song. Savior, loving Jesus, praise God, Hallelujah, He holds me in his arms???? Singing songs about loving a guy that will hold me when I’m hurting, might not be attractive to a young 21 year old guy. Once you become a Christian and understand it, then it’s not so bad, but coming in off the street and hearing that sounds a little strange. Then you listen to a message about Jesus that paints this picture of a peaceful, perfect man that sometimes comes across as meek and mild. Pictures show Him in white, with halos, carrying lambs, etc. Again, not a picture that gets guys really excited.

    [Jesus is also] more of a warrior riding into battle, flames coming out of the eyes, slashing demons to pieces. Same with angels. Are they nice guys wearing white with little golden halos, or are they an all powerful warrior that a single angel could wipe out the U.S. military? Most guys are attracted to the latter!!

    Young single guys are influenced greatly by testosterone and how other people view them. Yes, guys like action and excitement, that’s why we love action movies, skiing, motorcycle riding, bass pumping music, etc. But, I think how other people view them plays a big part on why guys do the things they do and why they might avoid church. They might do all the action stuff (whether they really like it or not) partly because how it makes them look. It makes them cool to other guys and it makes them cool to girls (at least guys think girls like that, whether they really do or not?) But when a 21 year old guy walks into church, everyone is dressed up in nice clothes, singing happy songs about loving Jesus, and they’re planning a trip to men’s fellowship with guys that are 20-30 years older where they’ll dress up in more nice clothes and sing more happy songs . . all of a sudden it’s not appealing. And they sure don’t want to brag about that to a girl they’re trying to impress. When she asks what he did over the weekend he might say, “Went and watched Die Hard, played football with the guys, rode the motorcycle down to Arkansas, and booked a sky diving trip.” but more than likely church might not get mentioned. However once a guy is in a relationship or married, then the ego isn’t at risk and they’re more open to church. All of a sudden the weekend is, “We went to Lowe’s and picked out a nice eggshell paint, mowed the yard, and went to church on Sunday. 🙂

    Anyway, the point of the article in Christian Standard was to cater toward the men, and the women will follow, because there’s still things that attract them there and females are more likely to go to church anyway. It worked well for the church featured in the article and I can see why.

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11 thoughts on “Why Single People (especially guys) Don’t Go to Church

  1. Hi,

    Just thouht your artical about singleness is interesting. Im a single guy,age 44, Yah, Im not young but older blokes have similar battles, in fact, thinking about it the same!!!!!!!!!!
    I ve often thouht the answer my be a christian network for christians accross a city or town. Christians fron different churches supporting one another and encouraging one another. NOT for dating purposes but jusy for friendship and encouragement! The church I go to is very modern and there are alot of young people that did go but the youth pastor or leader who made this work over the years GOT MARRIED!!!!!!!!! and so the number of young people coming to church declined becauses there was no one for them to relate to !!!

    I oftern think That if churces could address the problem of singlesses for all ages the churches would prbably be full!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hi

    Just wanted to CORRECT something I metioned earlier in the last response I made on singleness in church. I mentioned that the reason young people diclined in church was because someone got married.
    Well, looking at my response since I realise this is NOT what I really ment.

    I felt that because this person got married there didnt seem anyone of a younger age anymore to kind of relate to in terms of singleness, and so this was why MAYBE some of the younger people may not have stayed with the church, I suppose it is hard to really be sure what is the case!. I certainly dont comdem marrige but encourage it. But I do feel Churches should cater more for single people for all ages, and I do think churches would be more full!

  3. Yeah, if you listen to the words spoken on a typical Sunday morning, (and I catch myself doing this all the time) they are usually words aimed at married couples with children. And since there are all sorts of other categories of people such as single, dating, married without children, etc… Seems like we are probably making a lot of folks feel like we aren’t speaking to them. Churches do need to try a few things, whatever might work with their particular situation, when it comes to reaching these groups. Plus, I think we need to keep them in mind. Too many sermons aimed at married people will leave out others. So perhaps more teaching based on the Bible itself with truths that apply to almost every category of person???

    At any rate, thanks for the comment. Good stuff Chris!

  4. It would really be great if churches would understand that there are a lot of single Christians over 25! I’m 47 and I feel marginalized simply because I’m not married and I’m not “young” and what’s worse is I’m also not a parent. I really hate being marginalized in a marginalized group.

  5. Good point Paul. I think churches sometimes tend to get accustomed to phrasing and gearing everything toward “families.” I wonder if that sort of thing causes us to unknowingly make single people feel like a man attending a Beth Moore conference? You know, there’s a lot of good stuff at a Beth Moore conference but as a guy I’d feel a little out of place there.

  6. I’m in my early 40s, a female, never married, don’t have and kids, and churches feel just as strange and uninviting to me as you say they do to men in their 20s.

    It’s even worse to be a single woman, because most churches do not allow women to preach, teach, or serve in any way (unless it’s in a “kid related” capacity, and I have never liked kids. I have no interest in kid or baby- related ministry, so the church has no idea where to put me or how to use me. My overtures at volunteering my gifts to the local church went unheeded).

    Read the books “Quitting Church” by Julia Duin, and the book “Singled Out” by Christine Colón and Bonnie Field, and you will discover that the American church in general, especially the Baptist and conservative evangelical groups, treats never-married singles over the age 30 (both male and female) much worse than those singles under age 30, or just about any other group.

    The Duin book (“Quitting Church”) points out recent data that show that more and more women (usually single ones) are not going to church anymore – not only is church no longer appealing to single men, it’s also a turn-off now to single women.

    If anything (as Duin mentions in the book and in interviews) churches were so alarmed by the books in the late 1990s that said men avoid churches because they find church too feminine, have swung too far in the other direction: in the past ten years, churches now decorate their church buildings to look more manly, and the sermon preaching style and music is geared towards men, which can alienate women.

    Most church programs and funding is provided to singles under 30, when it is those above 30 years old (of both genders) who need help finding a mate and navigating the challenges of singlehood.

    There is this weird obsession with American churches to grab and attract 20-somethings and “seekers” at all costs, but as the Duin book points out, the church is ignoring those over 30, including the singles, who are strong believers, and this is causing them to flee the church in droves (and a few other reasons, too).

    When singles over the age of 30 are not being ignored by the church, they are treated like second class citizens by many churches, they are only valued for menial chores they perform for the church, such as baby sitting the kids of the married people, or putting away the church’s folding chairs.

    I find it very annoying how the church at large constantly focuses on how important marriage is, but then does nothing to actually help older singles get married – if we singles admit to wanting marriage, we get shamed by it by preachers and church laity, or made to feel like it’s selfish or idolatry to want marriage, and some try to discourage us from seeking marriage by making singleness sound super-spiritual or like it’s our lot in life.

    The way the church treats singles over 30 is a total disgrace.

  7. Post Script. @theCrazyPastor

    And you are correct in your post above – we single, never-married Christians over the age of 35 notice that many pastors or Christian personalities on TV shows often use marriage or parenting metaphors in their sermons to make a point.

    Always appealing to marriage or parenting metaphors needlessly causes hurt feelings and offense that could be easily avoided. I see no reason why preachers can’t chuck out a Non-marriage or Non-parenting example when trying to make some point about life or the Bible.

    And the fixation on sermon topics such as “How to raise Godly children” or “How to have a strong marriage” need to go. Once every while is fine, but it seems as though 8 out of ten sermons or Christian articles and blogs covers that stuff.

    The only time singleness is mentioned in sermons or Christian blogs/magazines is to tell singles “don’t have sex!” (and most of these sermons sound incredibly ridiculous to any celibate Christian past the age of 35 – they usually boil down to “just say no!,” or “flee lustful situations”), or…

    1. to malign us in some way (e.g., “you are to blame for being single,” or “you are still single because you are too unattractive/ too much baggage/ God is working on you still” – no where does the Bible say one has to be perfect to get a spouse, and these people have no idea what I look like, and I’ve already ‘worked through my baggage,’ thank you, but am still single), or
    2. they instill false hope via platitudes (e.g., “be content in your singleness, and that is when God will send you a spouse!,” “don’t look for the right person BE the right person”), or
    3. to be patronizing (telling singles “Jesus is all you need,” “just think of all the homeless orphans you can help while single”).

  8. I don’t go to church for many of the same reasons mentioned above. The main reason, however, is the fact that I will always be invited to their “singles” group better known as the recycling bin for divorcees. Since I’ve never been married, the thought of listening to hours or complaining just doesn’t seem that appealing. If find it interesting that the only time churches call upon singles are when they need volunteers or money. Since we’re not married we must have plenty of cash and time.
    I also suffer from bipolar 2 so when Sundays roll around you’ll likely find me at home. I have issues with depression on my own without having to deal with church.

  9. I have the same problem with going to church. I’m 38 years old, single, never married & still a virgin. I never had any kids. when I go to church, I feel like a fish out of water. It’s hard to walk Into church alone & single & feeling pathetic & have people stare at you like you’re a freak. I don’t like church because I can’t relate to married people, families & couples. I like testosterone stuff like action movies, women, beer, monster trucks, etc.

  10. Good comments and much appreciated. I hope a lot of church leaders have a chance to read these. At our church, we’ve been thinking along these lines, and a lot of us enjoy that “testosterone” stuff as well! But we’ve also tried to keep from focusing on JUST parenting and marriage topics. It’s an easy habit for married parents who are pastors or leaders to fall into. But Jesus is for everyone, in every situation. So after awhile, we’ve started to end up with so many of us freaks in church, that no one stares at us anymore. They just say hey. 🙂 Last week I was telling a guy congrats for making to the end of his parole, and it hit me, this is a cool church. There are a lot of good ones out there I hope.

  11. I live in Colorado and have the option of going out in nature and listening to the wind, birds singing or other sounds of nature. My other choice is to go to church and listen to the first 30 minutes of service talking about father/daughter programs, mother’s day out, couple’s programs, etc… Personally, the choice is clear…

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