The Church and Singles

Last month I wrote about praying for the singles in church. You can read about this here. Today I want talk about to serve singles. Recent polls have indicated that there are more singles in the church today than ever before. This means the idea of how to minister to us changes.

We are getting married later in life or not at all. We are living in a different age where marriage, at least in this part of our 1% privileged world, is not a necessity for survival. We no longer live in the world of Jane Austen, where marriage was for the Bennett girl’s very survival.

So often, in American churches marriage itself it lauded as the epitome of the Christian life. In reality, while marriage is A good thing, it is not the thing. In the Bible we are constantly reminded that things of this world shall fall away. This also includes marriage.

Idolizing either state single or married can be dangerous.

So many singles feel left out or marginalized as the emphasis is often placed on the marriages in the church. As I stated in my previous post, marriage is a good thing, however there are times where their can be a mentality that one group needs more attention over another.

Whether this is an oversight or simply the culture of a church needs to be evaluated. It is often as simple as changing the phrase of a sentence. Or acknowledging that singleness is not easy without the usual platitudes. Perhaps too just checking in with someone to see how they are doing, with our lives, seeking a mate or not seeking a mate.

I am no expert and I do not believe there is a one size fits all ministry. Is there ever? What follows is what I have experienced. First we are a diverse group of people. We vary in age, life experience and walk with Christ. Lumping all singles into one ministry just won’t work.

For example, when I checked out a Young Adult group for a few months the dynamic just did not work for me. Many of those who were attending were rather new to the faith and as a consequence I did not get much out of the small group time. Not to mention the always underlying tension of people checking out the other sex. This made me uncomfortable and I felt as if I had to perform somehow.

That particular ministry is helping a lot of people grow in their faith and build strong relationships but in the end it just wasn’t for me. 

What I realized is that I do not like being designated into a certain group because of my (or lack of) marital status. I don’t think we need several small ministries to address the growing number of singles in the church.
As we are supposed to be one family, essentially creating another congregation for singles just isn’t the answer . There is a reason for kids ministry, students ministry and even college ministry. Those are times of life in which people grow out of or graduate.

Singleness is not something one grows out of or graduates. As some may not get married and because they haven’t and by default feel less than. Or are excluded from serving in certain ways because somehow not being married excludes them doing so. This has not been my personal experience but it is a complaint I have heard from others.

This is one way to not serve the singles in the church. Excluding them from serving the church because they are not married. When something is set out as for the marrieds only you are sending the message that the singles are not as holy or qualified. That in fact Jesus isn’t enough. This is a lie that can cause more hardship for us than is perhaps realized.

I would say that while there may be times for certain aspects of singles ministry to be separate, it does not need to be an utter and complete disconnect from the rest of the congregation.Every church is different and the needs of each congregation vary.

In my experience as a single in church I have been cared for, never told I could not do this or that due to my marital status. However, a lot of my fellow singles have not been as cared for, or been told they could not serve because of their martial status.

By investing in singles as whole people who are lost and in need of Jesus is what matters most than any program or event.

How To Pray for Singles

Lately, something has been bugging me about praying for the marriages in our churches. Not just because it is yet another reminder of my singleness. A question formed in my mind, Why aren’t singles in the church as specifically prayed for? I don’t believe that this is because we are thought of as less than marrieds. This may have more to do with the mentality towards singleness. Even from those of use in the midst of it. That somehow our lives and struggles are not as important as those who are married. Or that this state of being is more private to be prayed about so publicly.

It is of course important to pray for marriage. It is hard, challenging, full of trials and blessings.  It is a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.

But so is singleness. Being a single in the church today is more of the norm than not. A pew poll from 2012 found that this group is in fact growing. For a number of reasons people are waiting longer to get married. Or are recovering from past relationships. Or like me have never been in a relationship.

In fact most churches are having to adjust how to minister to us. (I will touch on this more on another post).

Which is why it is just as important to remember to pray for us. Singleness can be just as challenging, full of trials and blessings. Pray not only for our potential, future marriages but also for our lives right now.

The majority of us are searching for our spouse. Pray that we be discerning in pursuing a spouse .  Pray for us as we try online dating and get to know new people. Pray for us as we pursue our dreams and establish ourselves. Keep in mind too not necessarily all of us are looking for that in our lives. Marriage, like college may not be for everyone.

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