I’m noticing that many churches gender segregate their adult small groups. I wonder if this is because the average adult church goer is assumed to be married (and, because marriage seems to be a prerequisite for ministry, this is also the perspective from which the organizing pastor is making decisions). I suppose church members are assumed to live closely with a member of the opposite sex (because of being married), but have more limited opportunities to build closer friendships with members of the same sex. (The Christian fear of sex may well also influence this decision.) I can see the reason and value in this. However, as a single adult who subsequently does not live closely with a member of the opposite sex, I want to find a place to develop friendships with both men and women. I believe this is healthy.
Churches segregate people in many other ways. Having separate programs for children and youth is one example. I understand there is value in connecting with others in a similar situation to you. Dads can encourage and trade ideas with other dads for example. But isn’t there also value in getting to know people who are in different life stages? I imagine most people will answer yes to the previous question. If that’s true, then why do churches divide so much? It seems these groups effectively keep a distance between different types of people. Is this healthy? Has anyone even asked this question? Does it possibly come from market segmentation? This would fit with the attractional church model. “We’ll have a youth group tailored to teens (to attract them). We’ll offer classes for married couples (to attract them).” Et cetera. Is there a way we can organize things so that we both have opportunities to connect with people who are similar and be in community with people who are different?