Monthly Archives: June 2017

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, by Gina Dalfonzo

As the tagline for this book says, there are now more single adults than married adults in the United States. But you might not think that from looking at typical evangelical churches, because many still seem to cater primarily to couples and families. I can attest to this, as a member of the “Focus on the Family” generation, and having spent several years in the church as a single adult.

The first section of this book shares a lot of stories from singles in the church, and corrects some unfortunate stereotypes that many singles have encountered (some of which are perpetuated by the church), such as the idea that single people have something terribly wrong with them, that they’re not “real adults” yet, or that they’re “projects” for others to “fix.”

The second section tries to take a look at “how we got here,” while the third focuses more on what the church does right, as well as practical ideas for welcoming the singles in our midst.

Dalfonzo does a fair amount of critiquing in this book, and it may give off a negative vibe because of that, though I think she works to counter that in places. She emphasizes that her criticisms only exist because she loves the church, and believes it should be a place where everyone’s voice should be heard equally. She isn’t afraid to call out (rightfully, I think) certain celebrity pastors who have made disparaging comments about singles, or have elevated marriage to a place that casts singles, by contrast, as “broken” or troublemakers.

I thought this book was valuable for giving the perspective of a female Christian who has been single all her life, but desired marriage and family. One section I appreciated was in section 2 where she attempts to answer the question of “how we got here,” by sharing some critiques of the “courtship culture” (and popular books it produced) that exploded into evangelical churches in the late 90s. She argues that this left many people even more obsessed with marriage, while also even more confused about how to get there. I mostly concur with her evaluations, and I think probably a whole book could have been written about just that subject. In section 2 she also covers “gender wars,” which was interesting, but probably the chapter I understood the least.

I think the strongest section for me was in section 3 where Dalfonzo talks about loneliness — and illuminates just how much of a driving force our fear of loneliness can be. As a single Christian who believes that celibacy outside of marriage is what she is called to, this would make her feel very isolated without the church there as a family to love her.

This is a good wake-up call to the church to make sure the singles in their midst have a voice, and aren’t getting pushed away by a “family-centric” approach.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255….