Should I change churches for the sake of meeting more singles?

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Should I change churches for the sake of meeting more singles?

Aug 22, 2011 |Candice Watters
Question

What are your thoughts on changing churches for the sake of trying to meet a potential husband?

I'm 32, single and would like to be married. I love the church that I'm at, and can confidently say that the teaching and fellowship there have helped me to grow and has strengthened my faith. However, there are no eligible men my age and not even many single women my age, either.

I know when this point has been brought up before, the encouragement has been to look around and give another chance to men who at first glance may not be someone I would be interested in. I have done this "second look" and am still coming up empty.

I am quite involved in the church. I've taken to heart the advice to let the women in my Bible study (the majority of whom are older than me), and the young couples with whom I am friends, know that I desire marriage and have opened myself up to being introduced to any eligible men they may know.

Yet I continue to find myself frustrated at the (seemingly) lack of eligible men that I can meet at my church.

I live in a large metro area where there are quite a few solid churches with a singles' ministry. I've gone back and forth with the idea of checking out one of these churches, but I feel like the only reason I would be looking for a different church would be to meet single men, which for some reason just feels shallow and insincere. I have no other reason to not be satisfied with the church I am at, other than the lack of eligible men.

Maybe this is the same old "where do I go to meet guys" question. Regardless, I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Answer

Thank you for writing to ask about church shopping for the purpose of finding a mate. We've received questions like this before which is not surprising given that despite the surplus of single Christian men in the general population, Christian single women outnumber Christian single men in the pews on Sunday morning.

My first thought upon reading your question was, Why not simply visit other churches? Many large churches, the sort with large singles groups, publish their upcoming event schedules online and welcome visitors. Get their events calendar and attend some special gatherings at times when there's nothing going on in your own church, for example, a Saturday night service or cross-church small group or Bible study. The benefit of this approach is that you can observe the gatherings of other churches and meet members of their body without having to cut yourself off from the body to which you're joined.

This approach, however, is not without problems. The two most obvious are that you won't truly know what these churches are like simply by attending what are typically more social than theological gatherings. The second is that if you marry a man you meet at one of these gatherings, there's a good possibility that you'll have to leave your church body for his. Which brings us back to your original idea: Leave your church for another for the purpose of getting married. That's all well and good if the new bigger church is a healthy church. But what if it's not?

It's natural and good to think of the church as a key part of marrying well, and understandably frustrating when you're in a church where it's not happening. But if you're thinking of leaving your church simply with the hopes of tapping into a bigger pool of marriage candidates, that's not a good reason to go.

Ask yourself if your current church is a place where marriage is honored and encouraged. Are new marriages happening there? Is the Word held high? Is it an intergenerational church? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you're already in a good place to marry well. Even if the man isn't readily apparent, or even there yet, that's not a reason to lose hope and look elsewhere.

But if your answer is no, then you may have a bigger problem on your hands, one that may be reason enough to find a new body.

In his book What is a Healthy Church?, Mark Dever offers these marks of a good church:

The gospel is truly affirmed, clearly preached, and faithfully lived out. A serious lack in any of these expressions of the gospel is very dangerous.

The preaching is faithful to Scripture, personally challenging, and central to the congregation's life. You will only grow spiritually where Scripture is treated as the highest authority.

The church is biblically regulating baptism, the Lord's Supper, church membership, church discipline, and decision making.

The church is biblically regulating baptism, the Lord's Supper, church membership, church discipline, and decision making.

If your church is, as Mark Dever says, "healthy," then you may yet be surprised how God will bring eligible men into your life. A body that honors marriage and loves you will be inclined to pray with and for you about this desire for marriage. Doing so makes members – your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ – alert to opportunities to make introductions and available as mentors for the process. Conversely, leaving a healthy church in favor of one with a big singles group may do more harm than you realize. I would hate to see you trade one disappointment – no marriable men – for another – an unhealthy church.

The only way this would work is if you leave a healthy small church for a healthy bigger-with-more-eligible-men church. It's not just about the quantity of men, but quality of the preaching. And not only that, but also group turnover is another key consideration. There are many very large churches with surging, active singles groups and relatively few new marriages. Often the singles groups look better to the visitors than they do to the members.

At our church, there's no designated singles group. The unmarried members are integrated into the church body and small groups along with marrieds of all ages. This integrated model has the benefit of not stigmatizing those who aren't yet married, as well as saving them from a peer-only experience. I'm always on the lookout for ways I can get to know new singles and help facilitate introductions among them. That would probably be unlikely if none ever crossed my path. As it is, we're in the same Sunday school classes, worship services and small groups. And the number of singles is small and lopsided: There are more women than men. And yet there are weddings happening in our church. That's the best sign of all!

As you think and pray through your question, consider what the church is. Because it's a body, and not a place, leaving it for any other reason than the most important is more like amputating your arm than it is departing one location for another. Changing churches isn't like changing hair salons. It's a big deal. And doing it "just for the sake of trying to meet a potential husband" goes against what the church is for.

That's not to say you can't visit other churches in the hopes of meeting young believers who are similarly marriage-minded. But do so fully aware of the challenges that may accompany the blessings.

Might the enemy be using your desire for marriage – a good and, rightly ordered, God-honoring desire – against you? Are you discontent with your church, tempted to find fault, bitter about your single status? Or maybe the Spirit is stirring you to act, prompting you to cast a wider net. The fact that it could be either is reason enough to seek the input of your pastor and his wife (or your elders or small group leader).

May God, almighty and sovereign over every circumstance, guide you. He isn't limited by a dearth of single young men. And it only takes one.

Blessings,
CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2011 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

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