Nearly 40 percent of singles in a 2013 study described feeling isolated in their churches. One researcher concluded, “[Singles] . . . feel invisible and think about leaving.” That statistic doesn’t surprise me. As a single person, I’ve experienced feelings of isolation in churches composed primarily of couples who socialize primarily with other couples. I’ve also experienced awkward silences when I reveal I’m not dating, married, or even actively seeking a spouse.
It can be easy for churches to embrace mainstream culture’s tendency to idolize romance while seeing friendships and community as optional, superficial, and non-committal. In that worldview, singles can be excluded from being known and loved at a deep level, while couples can sometimes enter marriage with unrealistic expectations.
The apostle Paul described the church, not as a collection of couples and singles, but as an interdependent body meant to share joy and suffering together (1 Corinthians 12:25-26), where each person is uniquely gifted and needed for the good of the whole (1 Corinthians 12:7,21-22). And when Paul described the “way of life that is best of all” (1 Corinthians 12:31), he didn’t describe marriage but the love the community of faith is called to embody (1 Corinthians 13:12-13), a love that “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
When believers deepen their experience of community and unity through the Spirit, we grow into a love deeper than our own individual needs, one where we’re invited into a calling much bigger than ourselves (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). And we also grow in our witness to the transforming power of Jesus’ love, the love that will last forever (1 Corinthians 13:13).
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 8:22–9:1
Read 1 Peter 4:8-10 and reflect on why it’s “most important of all” to grow deeper in our love for fellow believers.
How have you been tempted to look for fulfillment outside of the community of believers in Jesus? How might you build deeper connections in the body of Christ?