If we’re honest, many of our churches do not do a great job at ministering to singles. Many of our events and ministries are aimed toward couples or families and singles in our churches can sometimes feel like second class citizens.
So how can we ensure that we serve them well?
1. Don’t quarantine them into singles ministries
Why do we quarantine our ministries into age groups and marital status? Why would we cut off singles from the warmth of a loving Christian home? Why do we deprive younger men and women from the wisdom that older members of the church can so readily provide them? Why do we withhold the joys of birth and first steps and first words from those senior saints in the church by separating people into senior classes and college classes and singles classes?
The greatest small group I have ever been a part of had people from every decade of life from 20s to 60s and was fairly equally populated with singles and couples. We shared our lives. We learned from one another. It did not matter that some of us were single or married, older or younger, raising kids or spoiling grandkids; we wanted to be like Jesus and that was enough to bond us together. Isn’t this the way it should be?
2. Don’t keep treating them like they’re in a waiting stage until they get married
Here is a shock for some of us: some single people are not looking to get married right now. And it isn’t because they want to stay locked in a perpetual adolescence where they party, play video games, and treasure their freedom (though, for sure, that is the case for some). In our church, we have several singles that are unmarried for a variety of reasons. One young man sees that his main calling in life right now is to care for his siblings who were abandoned by their father. Another is choosing a life of celibacy to focus on ministry.
We need to learn to see that singles are a great gift to our churches. Singles can serve in ways that married people cannot. They can take on extra hours to provide monetary assistance to others in the church. They can be ready in a snap because they are not leaving any responsibilities behind to come meet a need. Singles can be great assets to the church and we diminish that capacity when we assume that they are only in a waiting phase until they get married.
3. Invite them into your life
One of the greatest ministries you can have to single people is simply inviting them to come and share time with your family. For those singles that do some day hope to marry, you can provide a gift for them by showing them how married couples interact and how you raise your children. You can model for them what a godly home looks like and provide guidance when they begin to enter in to their own relationships and start families.
4. Be an open ear for them
I couldn’t remember what it was like to be single if I tried. My life is so intertwined with Beth and our four daughters that it is impossible for me to think about even a single area of my life that is not somehow influenced by them. But what that means is that I have to work hard to understand and consider how to serve those single brothers and sisters in our congregation.
I need to get to know them, ask a lot of questions, and listen often. What is your greatest hope right now? Your greatest fear? Where do you want to be in five years? What are the biggest struggles you are facing? What drives and motivates you? When do you feel lonely? What place in the church do you feel God is calling you to serve right now? The more we listen, the better we can love and serve our single brothers and sisters.
One thought on “Loving Singles Well”
Thank you for addressing this very important issue. I live in an area where Bible churches treat we singles as the second class. It is commonly preached from the pulpit and the church bulletin, that “family is the most important thing.” This is Biblically wrong. In the eyes of God, the most important “thing” is each and every individual soul. Jesus reduced the commandments down to two essentials: love God with all you got and love your neighbor. Nowhere did he preach to divide the church into the “most important” and the lesser. Acts 2:42 mentions nothing about fellowship A and fellowship B. Timothy was a young single ordained into a huge ministry of all ages and demographics. And I will state for the benefit of anyone either young in the faith or ignorant to the fact: JESUS WAS SINGLE! In my area, most pastors/elders are reluctant to singles ministries. Respectfully, I must disagree with you – singles ministries are vitally important in today’s church. Issues important to the married folks and the singles are very different, while we singles, of all ages, need a fellowship dedicated to what tempts us and concerns us as single believers. Furthermore, most pastors may be well equipped to throw counseling scripture to an adult single seeking guidance, but most pastors lack understanding of the concerns of an “adult” single. Keep in mind that most pastors were single while they were still kids and married at young ages. Because of this fact, most pastors have no clue nor insight into the lives of adult singles. Which is why an adult singles ministry is needed in today’s church. Adult singles need to small group their issues and concerns in a supportive Bible study format, led by a single who is mature in the faith. Many of the singles’ issues are different than those of the married folks. Because of this, singles are very hesitant to include their concerns during mixed small group or Bible study discussions. In final I will add that a church that allows and encourages single adult fellowship, on site and off site, is a church that gives love in addition to the words it professes. Can you imagine adult single believers going on outings together, studying and praying together, or even just hanging out together on weekends (again, Acts 2:42). I honestly don’t understand why there is such strong resistance to ‘adult’ singles ministries by the married component of most churches. But then I must remind myself that Satan has his influencial meat hooks in every pulpit and pew throughout the land. May God richly bless each of us with Spiritual discernment and His wisdom.