(Photo: AP Images / Jon Super, File)
Single Christians feel "isolated and ignored" within the larger church community, according to a new survey conducted in the United Kingdom.
The study, which was published earlier this month, took the responses of 2,754 people who were registered users on dating website, Christian Connection, and found that nearly 40 percent of respondents did not feel "treated as family members" in their church.
Many single churchgoers reported feeling "inadequate or ignored," and more than a third claimed they were treated differently from married couples, citing negative attitudes in particular towards single Christian women.
Nearly half of those surveyed felt that their church "did not know what to do with them."
Some respondents also described feeling more comfortable outside of church given that some single women were seen as a "threat to couples."
The research found that some singles felt more valued outside the church than within.
David Pullinger, one analyst who has looked at the data, has said the Church must do a better job at making sure everyone feels loved and welcome.
"One of the key findings was that they felt embraced but whilst this should be something warm they said they often felt isolated and lonely … they say they are accepted but they are not included socially. They feel invisible and think about leaving," Pullinger told the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph.
"This is a time bomb for the church. All their natural contact points with the community tend to be with families - people coming forward for marriage, births and through Sunday school and church groups," he added.
Jackie Elton, founder of Christian Connection revealed that she wanted churches to learn from the survey and reach out to all wanting to hear God's message.
He said, "Single people often feel marginalized in churches which concentrate on the needs of families. However, as the number of single people grows in society, it is more important than ever those churches identify ways to make them feel welcome and fully included."