Today’s post is a very honest perspective of the church and of women in the church. My prayer is that as you read our guest blogger and young adult woman, Mickey McCloud’s thoughts and feelings, ask God how He would want you to reach out to single women in your church.
I hear often that they feel like they do not have a place in our church and especially in our women’s groups and ministries. Mickey’s 5 helpful suggestions will get you to thinking about what you can do to reach out to these women as they visit and join our churches.
"I was terrified. In all of my 22 years, I had never attended church alone. I knew that if I was going to be successful in life after college, I needed to get plugged in somewhere. As I walked down the crowded hallways, I could feel my face turn red, my hands sweat and my voice tremble as I forced out the words, “ Could you help me find a class?” to the sweet older man that I assume must have been an elder. He replied, “Well of course, sweetheart! Let’s go talk to someone who can help us”. As I followed this sweet man, whose feet must have been two sizes too big for his little frame, I felt at ease. As we approached the information desk, the woman behind the counter greeted me with a big smile. My elder friend explained to her that it was my first time visiting and I needed to know what class to attend. She then looked to me, her smile waning, and in a voice almost as quiet as a whisper she asked, “Are you alone? Are you single?” I found myself replying in a soft, embarrassed whisper. Then it occurred to me, “Why was I whispering? I had nothing to be embarrassed of!” I was suddenly very aware that my marital status had everything to do with what class I could and could not attend. I was no longer a student where being single is acceptable and encouraged. I was in a church, where families dwell, and there was an entire separate room of people just like me down the hall. I couldn’t help but feel I was an outcast, rejected based on the bareness of my left ring finger.
I made it to my classroom, met other single folk, and forced a smile. I couldn’t help but look around and wonder, “Do these people know that we are quarantined from the rest of the congregation? Do they know that we are the ‘unwanted’s?” That word still haunts me. Unwanted. I know it’s not truth. I know that no congregation seeks to quarantine the single population from the rest of the church. I know that no one thinks I am useless to the Body, but it can sure feel that way at times.
We have trouble integrating ourselves into the community. We’re called upon to do ‘free’ babysitting for women’s Bible study, but rarely approached to attend. We’re expected to come to events or volunteer in the nursery, because we “must not have anything going on”. All of these are just emotions, and I know they do not reflect the attitudes of the women in the church, but at times those feelings are too real.
After a few months in the single’s group, I had a conversation with a 35 year-old single man after he returned from a mission trip. He shared wonderful stories of the work they did during their time abroad, but he explained one of his greatest frustrations was that the church had enlisted a ‘chaperone’ to accompany the singles on their mission trip. He asked me, “Why on earth does a 35 year -old man need a chaperone?” I was speechless. We got to chatting about whether or not a church would ever send a chaperone on a trip of married fathers? Probably not. It got us wondering, “do marriage and children get you a ‘maturity card’? Must we be married and have children so the church will take us seriously and recognize our gifts for the Kingdom?” It was then I realized that this must all be a miscommunication, none of this could be real! Surely this is Satan’s way of placing divisions in the Body…
I never want to take responsibility off of single women (or single men for that matter)! We absolutely have a responsibility to get involved and seek out opportunities in the church, however; I often wonder how many more of us would venture out of our Single Sunday School class if an older woman in the congregation approached us. There is no greater feeling than having someone notice you, invite you in, and ask for your help! We want to be used!
It’s been ten months since I moved to Nashville, and I can happily report I’m starting to find a place here. I made a decision to force myself into the congregation, and slowly but surely, I’m starting to feel I know people outside of the walls of my singlehood bubble. I’ve met some amazing women and I’m finding ways I can serve. It has been a tough season. One filled with feelings of aimlessness and frustration, but it has turned into a beautiful season. One where I realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I have so many new relationships with women who are cheering me on! I’m so thankful for this season in my life, and look anxiously ahead for all that the Lord has in store for me!
You may be involved in ministries very different than the one I have described. Perhaps you have a ministry busting at the seams with single women who give of their talents to your ministry each week. But if you don’t, and you’re worried you may have some young women who feel ‘unwanted’ in your congregation, here a few suggestions for engaging the single woman:
1. Meet us– You see us. You know where our class meets. Come by and introduce yourself. Invite us to lunch or to your home. It means the world to us to meet you!
2. Include us– We want mentors! We want to be invited to Bible study, Ladies’ retreat and fun outings. We are a whole lot more likely to come if we are asked!
3. Help us find our place in the Body– It’s hard for us to know where we belong. If you see an opportunity, don’t hesitate to present it to us.
4. Encourage our giftings– If you see something special about us that we can use for His glory, help us and encourage us to use it.
5. Take us seriously. We want so badly to be a valued and integral part of the Body.
I think instead of whispering next time I’m asked, I’ll shout it loud and proud saying, "Yes, I’m single!"
Got any single sons and grandsons? Just kidding.
Mickey McCloud is the newest member of the Women’s Training and Events team at LifeWay. She was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University to major in Interpersonal Communication. Immediately following graduation, she came to intern at LifeWay for the women’s team. She was thrilled when given the opportunity to stay at LifeWay and work on the Women’s Training and Event’s team as a Department assistant. She has a passion for women’s ministry and is grateful to get to work alongside such wonderful Christian women.