9 Reflections from a Formerly Single Adult

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?  



  • Kiersten says:

    I’m glad you included #6, because this is something that I wish as a single people would do for me and I’m sure there are many others who feel the same way. Good points! Thanks for sharing

  • TheHopeinMe says:

    Number 1 is the one I identify with most! It’s very difficult to find your groove and a sense of belonging in a married,family-oriented world, and the church is no different. I shy away from single groups because I dislike being a project. I look for ways to serve instead. I choose to look at my singleness as a precious gift, that may last a season or forever. My encouragement for other singles is, don’t wait for married people to invite you in, it might never happen, go to them, invite them into your life. Be the initiator.

  • Dawna says:

    I am in my mid-thirties and it looks as if I finally may be getting married soon! Being a single adult in church has truly been one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. I fear that our churches have gotten to the point that we idolize marriage/family. When we put them before God, when we allow our actions to single adults to be very harsh, we are not honoring God at all. I have had everything from being confronted of living a life of sin (why else would God punish me to singleness) to having a family hack into my facebook and yell at me that there was no reason for me not to date their nephew (because my FB account did not list me as in a relationship).

    The Bible tells us that God made all of us to be the body of Christ. When we make singles feel as horrible as they are often left feeling and disqualify them from service, it is like we are cutting a limb off of the body of Christ. Please, treat singles as real people! Understand that the Bible is full of examples of people having to wait for their heart’s desire. Our churches tend to get all excited over even bad marriages while shunning those who are waiting on God. Singlesness is hard. Please don’t make it so much more difficult.

  • Biblesumo says:

    I was single until I was 35. Happily married for 6 years. I share a lot of the same thoughts and reflections that u had shared. Thoughtful post.

  • Chuck Schobert says:

    To be honest, it was due to the responses of the church to my divorce that I felt like God was done with me. Every time divorce is mentioned or is the subject of a lesson or sermon all we ever hear is how much God hates divorce, and I don’t disagree with the statement, it is in scripture. It got to the point that what I heard was God hated me. Very few “sins” are met with such a hardline drawn in the sand by the church. Gluttony and gossip are also mentioned as things God hates but there is grace and mercy for those, you get a divorce and you are doomed to a life of loneliness because if you remarry now you are guilty of adultery too. So I got a divorce, that I didn’t want, and now I have to be alone forever, plus I am disqualified from serving in a leadership role at church, AND I am left feeling like God hates me. No grace, no mercy, no hope.

  • Amanda Yon says:

    I agreed with number 6, but not just to pray for purity. As God lead me through a long season of waiting to be married, know and hearing others were asking God on my behalf to grant the desire of my heart was one of the most humbling and encouraging things I was ever told. When I finally stood at the altar on my wedding day, it was with a holy awe, not that God had heard my cry, but that He’d answered so many other’s prayers as well. It also brought sobriety to the altar as well, so many people to be accountable to. God answered all of our prayers, entrusted me with a precious gift, and it was now my job to be a worthy steward.

    Also, I completely agree with your statement about using singles in ministry and leadership. I was 30 before I got married and my late 20s had an extreme listlessness to them. It was difficult to find a place to minister that challenged me to grow. God is good, and taught me much through that. But to be honest, as older singles, we are working, building lives and careers, we don’t want simple social gatherings to be the primary gift of church fellowship.

  • Buondy milazzo says:

    We are no aliens people -and must couples- could talk to us but many many married women are afraid to fellowship with single women. Sad. Thanks great article!!

  • shannah says:

    I will be 60 tomorrow and have been single my whole life. I don’t like living alone, so I have a room-mate. We have been room-mates for many years and are great friends. Singles need a friend they can share things with. But a friend is what she is – nothing else. Don’t assume that every single is in some kind of romantic relationship. People have said that since I’m not married I must be homosexual. I’m not. I hate that insinuation.

  • John Morgan says:

    The obvious problem with the church is that it has put marriage and family on a golden pedestal of idolatry. What is a single? Is it a divorced person? A widowed person? A never married person? A person that doesn’t have a valid marriage license in their state of residence? Or is a single a hit that allows the batter to reach first base safely? As far as identifying needs of any kind, it is a useless word. It’s not found in the Bible. Single is just comfortable and politically correct. If Apostle Paul visited your church, which “Sunday School Class” would you put him in?

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