Churches are experienced as being...

Accepting, welcoming, involving, supporting, inclusive, loving, acting as family and friendly. These are the positive attributes identified in our survey that make church a good place to be.


Of those expressing positive messages about their church, 18% used the word 'accepting'. This was sometimes modified with three additions:

'My church accepts all, regardless of status of relationships, and I am very aware that being single has its problems, as has being married – neither is better or worse – both have challenges.'

'Everyone is accepted, especially by the leadership.'

'My church accepts people regardless of their personal status and embraces everyone equally.'

'My church accepts PEOPLE and doesn't categorise them. I personally wouldn't want to be singled out for special treatment because I was single or married or anything else.'

'Total acceptance, inclusion regardless.'

'A friendly place where everyone is accepted irrespective of background or relationship status. Plenty of social occasions/events suitable for both singles and couples/families. Everyone is accepted for the person they are whatever their marital status is. Isn't every church like that?'

'Welcoming. Accepting. Don't give trite answers like ''things tend to happen when you stop looking'' (which means I'm doing something wrong) and ''I'm sure God's got somebody very special for you as you've had to wait for so long''.'

There were many BUTs added, such as being accepting or welcomed but not fully included.

'I am accepted as an individual, just not specifically catered for.'

'I am accepted but 'feel' on occasion that my marriage breakdown is a whole negative area. I believe in marriage and would welcome more expression to recognise the difficulties in meeting like-minded single Christian folk.'

'Our church is warm, loving, friendly and accepting of all people regardless of age, race or singleness or not. However, I do feel as a single 40+ divorced woman that there are less ministry opportunities open to me and I don't feel I am paid as fairly as a married man would be despite the fact that I am now the bread winner for my daughter and I.'


Following closely behind 'accepting' was  'welcoming' – 15% said they appreciated that their church was welcoming, which was manifest in a number of ways.

'Everyone is greeted and welcomed at the door and made to feel wanted and at home. We, the church, are one big happy family.'

'Half an hour before the beginning of the service, we serve tea and coffee and that enables people to be introduced to other people straight away and is a major way in which people are made to feel welcome. They are met at the door first and then directed to where we meet for drinks or someone goes with them.'

'The ethos is that all people are welcome and race, relational status, age, ability, disability, etc, in my Church.'

'People very quickly made me feel welcome (learnt my name, invited me to lunch, coffee, groups) etc.'

'My church is very welcoming, particularly as I have come from an awkward background before coming a Christian, having previous convictions.'

'I have been made to feel welcome. I have found people will come up to me to say hello because they can see I am on my own.'

'Our church is very strong on welcoming people in regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, social standing, marital status.''Singleness'' is not a particular issue over and above any other cultural boundary markers.'

'My church is a very welcoming church. They have always made me feel loved and part of the family. I have grown up in the church and have had support in times of difficulty. My church is good at welcoming the people whom society find difficult to deal with, e.g. homeless, the mentally ill and alcohol/drug addicts.'

'The welcome I received on my first attendance was amazing: not only chocolates on entry, then tea, coffee (free) served, and I was introduced to a Home Group leader who then invited me to Home Group. This was six months ago; subsequently, I have made friends of both single and married members of the fellowship.'

'It's a great church and they are very welcoming and friendly whether you are single or married. They are eager for people to find true love, but at the same time, they look out for you spiritually.'

Like many of the positive statements about the church being 'welcoming' or 'accepting', there were often reflections or BUTs attached.

'I am welcomed and treated the same as everybody else. However, I may move church as there are no single women my age for friendship or relationships.'

'My church is very welcoming and friendly, though there is no particular acknowledgement of singles as far as I'm aware. I'm not sure whether some support or encouragement for singles to meet would be helpful or patronising and potentially awkward... still wondering about this.'


There was strong appreciation of opportunities to be involved.

'I'm still fairly new at my current church but it seems as though you are still given the opportunity to be involved regardless of whether you are single or not.'

'There are lots of ways to get involved in the church and not all kids work.'

'It has lots of organised events that all people are encouraged to get involved in.'

'There are plenty of opportunities to be involved: a traditional choir, festival choir which is informal, worship group. Helping with sound, IT, Street Pastors, Drop In.'

'Our pastor has a heart for singles and will encourage us in leadership roles and to get involved. He has been researching how to help single people in the church.'


'Support' is a term that indicates a more practical aspect.

'I am divorced but don't feel judged for it. I feel my children are cared about and supported by the other members.'

'My church recognises that involuntary singleness – particularly among women – is a problem, and it seeks to support singles to develop healthy relationships.'

'There are at least 10 single, separated or divorced women and two men, and I don't think any one of them would feel isolated or unloved. We support each other.'


Inclusive covers two aspects: including a person and being included in activities and ministries.

'Accepting and inclusive.'

'I now attend a church that is inclusive and friendly where everyone is accepted for who he or she is, regardless of age or marital status, and where the gifts of the Spirit are encouraged and practised by all.'

'We strive to be an accepting community, taking people as we find them and being inclusive. I feel part of a family at Inspire more than I have anywhere else. Each person is valued for who they are and given time and space to use their gifts and talents. That is how church should be.'

'Our church is a good place for Christians, whether single or not. We have a wide cross section of ages and abilities in church. All activities are inclusive and one inspirational single person has Downs Syndrome and could not be more inspirational. Her love of the Lord and ability to share and break down barriers is second to none.'

'It's very inclusive and healing for those coming out of difficult relationships or widows/widowers or divorcees.'

'My church is extremely inclusive and there are many activities and opportunities for single people to mingle; however, this has not always been the case in church life in different churches.'


Another word used was 'loving'.

'I would say our church is a good place for singles to worship because there is a lot of empathy, love and practical help.'

'People in my church are very loving and welcoming, there are loads of families and little kids, so it's nice to have that contact. My church is hugely accepting and my minister understanding.'

'Loving kind – looks after the poor and needy, treats human beings like people.' (690)

'Openly loving and genuinely caring.'

Acting as family

The image of the 'church as family' was not necessarily a cosy one, but one with a mixture of people.

'We are one family with different ages, race, ability, marital status. (35)

'Church aims to be a family like no other. There are families within the church who have welcomed me into their homes as an extended family member.'

'I think my Church accepts individuals as they are. It's important to get to know individuals and not to see their status but to see them as a child of God. As children of God, we are all equal. There is a good mix of young singles, young and older married people as well as older people who have either never married, or who have lost their partners. This makes us a family. We are all different and it takes God's grace for us to be able to get along with each other and love one another. By the Spirit of God we shall do this.'


The last commonly used word was ‘friendly’.

'We are known as being a very friendly, caring church for all ages.'

'I now attend a church that is inclusive and friendly, where everyone is accepted for who he or she is regardless of age or marital status, and where the gifts of the Spirit are encouraged and practised by by all.'