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Single figures

The church is obsessed with being family friendly, suggests the largest-ever survey on singleness in the UK church. The research, conducted for the online dating site Christian Connection, indicates that the church's focus is now running contrary to wider social demographics where, soon, more than half of households will be comprised of single people.

The site's founder Jackie Elton, who has been running the site since 2000, became increasingly concerned both by the lack of thinking in churches around singles and the difficulties her members experienced. Many have simply given up on church, she says.

'The world is changing, but churches aren't learning how to reflect these changes. I was amazed at the huge response the survey received. The floodgates opened. [It] proves many churches are not meeting the needs of the growing number of single people.'

More than 3,000 people completed the survey, across all denominations, and the results show a major shift of attitude when a single person reaches 30 years old.

'He or she moves from being in the majority to the minority in friendship groups,' explains Elton. 'This ushers in a number of vexing  questions. What if "God's plan for my life" means being permanently single? Am I as much part of the church as I used to be?

'We discovered single people, particularly those between 30 and 60 years, feel less accepted as they get older,' she goes on. 'They would like more advice and teaching on being single and more social opportunities within church circles but in a way that affirms them and doesn't pigeonhole them. At worst, some single women feel they are deemed a threatening presence by some married couples.'

Single people would also like to be more affirmed in leadership roles.  'Their "singleness" should not prevent them from being consulted and valued within church, but many believe it does,' adds Elton.

The full results will be discussed at three events hosted by the fresh expressions group Moot, at St Mary Aldermary, London. You may be in time to catch 'Will God provide? The theologies of singleness' on May 2.