Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Single in the Suburbs: Surviving the Singles Conference

If you missed my first post on Single in the Suburbs, you can find it HERE.

If you are single and live in the Bible belt region for any length of time, it is highly likely at some point you will wind up at a church Singles Conference.

The Singles Conference is what a church puts together when the numbers start getting low in the Newlyweds Class.

Never been to a Singles Conference? Here's the 411:

A team of (mostly) married pastors will preach to their single brothers and sisters about "using this time wisely" and "sowing into the Kingdom." (Translation: they need more people working in the nursery.)

They will then encourage us to treasure this time, because God is keeping us single for a purpose. As singles we must always remember that though we are only half-a-human, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. Always remember that. Always.

At some point in the conference the guys will be separated from the girls and each group will be addressed about gender-specific problems.

Girls will be encouraged to lay the burden of loneliness down and let God fulfill their deepest desires as they wait, wait, and wait for the right guy.

Guys will be admonished to man up and pursue the girls. (Author's Note: There is some aspect of mystery surrounding what happens in the guy's side, seeing as I've never actually been to that session. Someday I will cross dress and find out.)

A few other things you may encounter at a Singles Conference include:

The One-Word Conference Theme
Usually the Singles Conference involves a one word title. Something snappy and relevant like "Encounter," "Contentment," "Embrace," "Vision," "Design," "Refuge," "Relevant," or "Passion." (Actually rarely do Christians use the word "passion" without having "purity" somewhere close by.)

The "Meet Market" Stigma
The Singles Conference comes with the stigma that people only go to them in hopes of meeting their future spouse. While the stigma is annoying, the "meet market" demographic is the most entertaining part of these conferences. There is more perfume/cologne, giggling, and subtle/not-so-subtle flexing in the sanctuary during a singles conference than in an entire department store, comedy club, and gym combined. You want good entertainment? Grab a bag of popcorn and go plant yourself in the corner of the church lobby during a singles conference.

The Blatant Overuse of the Word "Contentment"
I will devote an entire blog to this one word, because it is brought up in church single circles like The Force is talked about in geek circles. At minimum once a conversation. When it comes to sermons on singleness and contentment, it is my opinion that you should be allowed to throw things at any pastor or speaker who got married before 25 and says, "I know how you feel. I was afraid I'd be single my whole life." VEGETABLE!

Here's the bottom line: Sermons on contentment, encouragement, admonitions to serve, and fellowship with other singles are all good things.

Why then my aversion and skepticism about the Singles Conference?

Because I don't like being lumped into a "category." I am (well, everyone is!) so much more than just another single church girl waiting to be married. The Singles Conference makes me feel like I'm exactly like every other girl. Waiting against the wall, anxious and worried that no man will ever ask me to join him on the spiritual dance floor. I don't feel like that until I'm in a room full of singles being preached to about "just hanging in there."

I need to go easy on the Singles Conference concept, though. The intention is good, and once I get past my pride and need to stand out (another form of pride), I enjoy the new friendships, fun, and time in the Word.

Plus, if it weren't for the Singles Conference, I would not exist to make fun of them.

I don't think I mentioned yet that my parents met at one...

What has been your experience with church singles conferences? Do you find them beneficial? Why or why not?

**If you're wondering the significance of my blog picture choice, don't over think it. I merely Googled "Singles Conferences" under images, and it was one of the first options.


Simone Benedict said...

Hmm, I'm single but never have been invited to one. Like your idea about dressing in drag to check out the guys' side. I'm one who would do that. Great post!

Jenny said...

LOL Hit. Nail. On. Head. Btw, I suspect that the guys-only session is actually all about how men don't 'respect' women anymore and how to 'conquer' a pornography addition.

Sara said...

I've never been and will continue to avoid, but this was truly hilarious.

Kristin said...

Simone: I would be the one to do that, too =) I would get caught though...I'm not subtle!!!

Jenny: I think you're probably right...I didn't want to assume that, though.

Sara: Thanks!!!!! =)

Claire said...

"When it comes to sermons on singleness and contentment, it is my opinion that you should be allowed to throw things at any pastor or speaker who got married before 25 and says, "I know how you feel. I was afraid I'd be single my whole life." VEGETABLE!"

Hear! Hear!

Also, some of these things are preached from the pulpit on Sunday at my church and not just at a Singles Conference. Makes it extra hard to sit behind those double-human-form-lumps in the pews. And this isn't just in the Bible belt. I live in NYC. (Though my pastor's from the Bible belt, so maybe it's still that influence.) Another thing that the single men at my church have been told: that they're in extended/ delayed adolescence and that they should grow up and get with it.