“You know what they say, it’s always lonely at the top.” He dipped his grilled cheese matter-of-factly into a steamy cup of tomato basil as I stared out the window into the rain. He intended for his jovial use of the cliché to create common ground on our awkward first date, but it only ended up bringing to mind the countless times I have faced loneliness inside the walls of the church.
At thirty-three and single, I spent my nights in coffee shops hunkered over Greek homework and my days trying to prove myself in a seminary staff leadership position never before held by a woman. Divorced and the father of two little girls—and seminary-trained himself—he had left his previous vocational ministry job behind during the losing fight to save his marriage. We had both experienced our fair share of feeling like outsiders.
The language of the New Testament describes the fellowship and unity accessible to everyone within the family of God. Yet many people continue to feel isolated from the level of community the epistles exhort believers to share. The loneliness I struggled with as single person has found me once again as a wife of a divorced man and a step-mom in a non-traditional parental role. My complex relational status still doesn’t quite fit the options on Facebook or in most churches (single > married > family), and my husband and I continue to struggle to find “our people.”
It seems that although the U.S. has an even split of married couples and singles, the church population weighs 10% heavier toward married couples. While the church will certainly always struggle to represent the general population evenly across all racial, familial, marital, and party lines, members should consider these and similar demographic disparities.
Over the past couple of years, Christians have wrestled with the lack of racial, political, and gender diversity within their circles. However, a few other common areas of uniformity often seem overlooked in our communities—marital, parental, and leadership statuses. We tend to collectively group ourselves according to our sameness. But satisfying our own thirst for belonging inevitably puts outsiders in a state of relational dehydration. Exclusion in the name of “inclusion” causes the church to miss out on the fullness of fellowship God desires for us to experience.
About The Author
Sarah is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary working on her Masters in Theology with an emphasis on New Testament studies. She is passionate about giving everyday people access to robust biblical knowledge, in order that they may understand more fully the intricacy and depth of God’s love for them. Sarah resides in Arlington, Texas with her husband Josh and their two girls, Hannah and Addie.