Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Forgotten

I've been contemplating the various demographics of my church lately, trying to figure out where I fit in. As a 40-something, divorced with no kids, there are times I feel I don't belong. And it isn't something unique to me. This was a topic of conversation with a good friend of mine who is also single with no kids. The most obvious difference between us is gender.

We are both lovers of Christ who do our best to fit within the fabric of our respective churches. He serves through playing in the worship band. I serve by volunteering my time in the nursery. But when those opportunities to serve are completed, where do we go?

Let me expand on the "where I fit in." My campus is made up of many couples: Engageds, young marrieds, older marrieds. The majority of these couples have kids: nursery, toddler, pre-K, K, grade school, jr. & sr. high, or college. Many are empty nesters. So, given those demographics, where does a single person belong?

As Christians, we speak of reaching out to the lost, the forgotten. But what happens to the forgotten in the midst of the church? There are programs for just about every group, but nothing that is specifically for singles. I could join the women's groups, but I am pretty sure the only thing I would have in common with 90% of them is the fact that I am female.

I could join a community group but again, I feel like I wouldn't fit in. Most of the folks within the groups are couples. Talk about feeling like the odd man out. The women are talking about their kids and the men are talking about whatever it is men talk about and there I kids, so I can't relate. I'm not a guy, so that's out. Let me throw my hands up in frustration.

I think about this every Sunday since I've been at the new campus. There are a couple of people I am friendly with and our pastor knows me by name, but other than that, I'm on my own. I've left working in the nursery for the sake of my sanity and health. No, the kids weren't driving me insane. So where do I serve now?

I realize that part of my issue is that my family attends another campus so the feeling of being alone is acute. I sit by myself, knowing a handful of the people there. When I am at the other campus, at least I can sit with my family. And while that doesn't address the issue of being forgotten, it is a bit less lonely.

How do singles become strands within the fabric of church? What do we need to do to feel as though we really have a place, where we aren't just a bodies occupying a chair? We are a minority when it comes to demographics. We can be categorized by age or gender. But if we don't have kids, we don't fit with the programming for children. We can't relate to parents or empty nesters.

It seems to me, we tend to fall by the wayside...the forgotten members.


hugbandit7 said...

have you thought about starting a singles group within your church? there may be others that feel the same way that you do but think that they are also alone.

It could be something as simple as a singles sunday school class.

just a random thought for you!

TrevorDevage said...

Interesting thoughts...on our other campus we do have a singles ministry, but I am not sure that even the singles feel engaged there either. This is a thought that has crossed my mind a lot in the last few years and yet again I am not sure of the answer. I am not sure that it is forgotten as much as it is not known how to be dealt with. Most singles ministries become nothing more than a Christian meat market or a place for disgruntled singles to moan and gossip about the "horrible" condition of being single. We actually have a singles Sunday School class in Colleyville, but I am not sure that it would meet the needs that you are looking for. There are also married classes that do not meet the needs I am looking for either. So...with that said...the only word I can think of is...DILEMMA!!!!

Russet Shadows said...

This is one of the most honest, most real, most soul-penetrating blog posts that I have ever read. If you want an insight into the silent and overlooked people that walk among you, who sit beside you in church, whose eyes you catch for a second as the doxology resounds, this is it.

The fundamental problem is that society assumes that if you haven't got a wife or husband by 30, you're damaged goods. The Church merely repeats this assumption, instead of stepping into the gap and aiding the wounded. We should be different! We should be otherworldly and not cling to the base assumptions of the world that doesn't respect life in the womb, the life of the elderly, nor the life of the single adult.

It makes my soul sick, and yet, it is a sickness I have come to tolerate, for it dulls with passage of years. Like rust, it layers over and bubbles out from the wreckage of my emotional core, bleeding the passion that once roiled within.