single minded

Last week during a meeting, one of the leaders of a national church planting network remarked, “We don’t allow single men to plant churches.”

A few years ago, the committee introduced me to a minister in another state. During one of our phone calls he shared how hard it had been to find a church willing to hire a never-married, not-currently-engaged man to serve as their senior leader.

As Paul Williams has written, the pressure to “find a good mate at college” still exists, and if a man knows he won’t be able to land a preaching job before first landing a wife, it’s that much more likely he’ll marry before he’s ready. Do we prefer a growing number of unhappily married leaders to some happily single ones?

Then there’s the other Paul—you know, the one who was single but also planted a number of churches and wrote half the New Testament?

Oh, and Jesus.

I’m not saying a singleton is better for ministry (although Paul did), but I’m not sure why churches are opposed to it. You’d think they would be clamoring for a single guy—theoretically the congregation would pay less money in health care and other benefits and receive more of the leader’s focus.

Instead, there seems to be a fear that an unmarried senior pastor will be unstable (because all the married leaders are so together) or promiscuous (because the married guys are never tempted by sexual sin).

Of the many biblical teachings we like to ignore, this one really does baffle me.

What do you think? Why this stigma against singles?

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