I’ve been happily married for almost 25 years, but I was 30 years old before I married. I was a full-time single pastor for ten years before that. Working with college students, writing for older adults, and doing church consultations over the last year have caused me to think again about how churches relate to single adults. Here are my thoughts, and I welcome the input of singles.
- Don’t forget that singles are in your church. The church is so family-oriented that we often unintentionally ignore or neglect singles. That’s one reason why churches with intentional ministries for single adults tend to attract many of them.
- Don’t assume all singles want to be married. Prior to meeting Pam, I was fully comfortable with being single the rest of my life if that had been God’s plan. Others genuinely feel called to singleness – a fully legitimate state for a follower of Jesus. Respect that decision.
- Invite them into your family routines. You’d be surprised how many singles would jump at the chance to share life with your family. Just because they aren’t married doesn’t mean they don’t want to be an “aunt” or “uncle” in your church.
- Ask before you try to “fix them up” with somebody. Pam and I were “fixed up” by two church secretaries, so I’m glad that some believers take on this matchmaking task – but ask permission before you step into a single’s life at this level. You honor a person’s maturity and choices by asking first.
- Intentionally recruit them for ministry. The apostle Paul recognized that single adults often have more time and energy to focus on God’s work (1 Cor 7:6-7), but churches have a tendency to see them as less qualified to lead. You miss a vast resource pool if you overlook the single adults in your church.
- Pray for them as they wrestle with sexual desires. God’s Word on sexuality has not changed, despite what culture might say today. Most singles who want to be faithful to God battle with their desires, and they often do so alone. Adopt a single adult as a prayer focus, and intercede intentionally for him or her.
- Think about them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Some single adults feel called to singleness. Others want to be married, but they haven’t found the right person. Many long to be parents. Sometimes, celebrations like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be painful reminders of their unfulfilled desires, so be sensitive to this reality.
- Don’t write off divorced singles. God hates divorce (Mal 2:16), but He still redeems and uses divorced people. Don’t forget that truth.
- See them as a mission field. Do you know how many single adults live within your church’s ministry area? If you don’t know that number, you should. This group is diverse (from college students to widowed seniors), but they’re often looking for community and purpose. View them as a mission field, and work to reach them. Your church will be stronger if you do.
What would you add to this list? Single adults, what would you say?