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Including singles in family life ‘not a one-way street’

Rob Collingsworth (left) and Daniel have been friends since they were roommates in college. Submitted photo

DALLAS (BP) – The truth of the Gospel has the power to bring all different types of people together, including both married couples and single adults.

For Rob Collingsworth, director of strategic relationships at Criswell College, a particular friendship has shown him the beauty of what couples and singles have to offer each other.

This friendship started when Collingsworth and his friend Daniel were roommates while at Southwestern Seminary.

Upon getting married, Collingsworth continued his friendship with Daniel even as he remained single. Daniel often comes over to the Collingsworth house for dinner, games and fellowship.

“Uncle Daniel” holds the Collingsworths’ oldest child shortly after he was born.

Collingsworth said his kids love spending time with “Uncle Daniel” and treat him as one of the family.

Last year, Collingsworth posted a Twitter thread stating his appreciation for his friendship with Daniel and encouraging other married couples to include their single friends in their lives. He told Baptist Press the hope was for Christians to realize relationships with single adults aren’t merely about charity, but about true community.

“Our relationship with Daniel is not a one-way street,” Collingsworth said.

“He’s a really great friend to both me and my wife. My kids also love him and he’s a big part of our lives. I don’t see us in any way doing him some massive favor, because we get so much from the relationship.

“Daniel is one of the people I can constantly rely on. I can count on him to ask hard questions. He’s a godly man who loves me and loves my wife and my kids. The idea that we’re doing him some favor by having him around is laughable.”

Collingsworth believes a variety of factors are causing young adults to delay marriage.

According to a 2021 Pew Research study, 38 percent of adults aged 25 to 54 in the U.S. were not married or living with a romantic partner. This is up from 29 percent in 1990.

Research also shows men are more likely than women to be unpartnered, which was not the case in 1990.

Collingsworth said churches should be paying attention to these sociological trends in order to better serve a growing population of singles.  

“I think trends in people getting married later or delaying marriage plays a lot into what our churches need to be thinking through in terms of how to minister equally to people in different life stages,” Collingsworth said.

“So much of our church life is oriented towards families and couples. I hate that anyone who is a single person in the church feels left out by married couples.”

Although he believes some Christian couples do intentionally ignore singles, Collingsworth said sometimes churches can accidentally ignore the needs of single people even in the way they structure their programs.

“Churches can often unintentionally overlook the needs of single people,” Collingsworth said.

“Sometimes it’s out of ignorance or unawareness from not having singles in their lives. At some point all of us had these needs that singles have, but if you’re not including single people in your immediate circle then you’re going to start to forget some of those things.

“The solution to this lack of awareness is simply awareness and friendship. We need to invite them into our lives more than just being our babysitters. They need to be able to see us in our normal. I think we need to learn again to show single people are extremely valuable to the local body.”

Collingsworth encourages Christians couples and singles to intentionally seek each other out to build relationships.

His friendship with Daniel serves as a reminder that it is easy to long for something different, but the calling of the Christian is contentment.

“I think any stage of life you’re in can result in a net negative based upon the condition of your heart,” Collingsworth said.

“I think it ironically has less to do with whether you are single or married, but rather what’s the condition of your heart. It’s easy to kind of romanticize the state that you’re not in, whether it’s looking forward to marriage or looking back to single life before marriage. The key response to that is to fix your eyes on God and what is in front of you at the time.”