Are you aware that 50.5% of the current population in America is single? Are you also aware that only 4% of churches nationwide have any type of singles ministry?
Back in the years 1996-1999 (during my six year single-again period of life) I published a small newsletter entitled Set Apart and Single (hence the name of this post) in which was discussed the challenges and joys of single life and singles ministry. During that time I also had the privilege to attend and participate in singles retreats and seminars. Being single was new to me then and many, many folks encouraged me through these venues.
But I learned how very often singles ministry is neglected or ignored. I learned what the fore mentioned numbers indicate- not many churches are concerned with singles. Even as the percentage of singles grow in our culture most churches still covet the family and focus their ministries around them.
Back then I asked why. I still am asking why. And my answers keep coming back to a lack of education of church leaders and a lack of comprehensive cooperation among the singles themselves.
Let’s face facts- church leaders are all overwhelmingly married and have been for years. Not only do they usually not see a need for singles ministry- they cannot even relate. It does not make them bad guys- just guys needed to be educated on shifting cultural demographics and new ministry opportunities. That is one challenge.
Another challenge is among the singles themselves. Singles ministry by definition is diverse. How can a ministry that includes college students, widows and widowers, young single professionals, divorced people of all ages with or without children- work? Added to this is the fact- from my experience anyway- that some singles themselves are not even interested in becoming involved. One very faithful Christian single even told me when I asked if she was involved with her local singles group, “I am not like them.”.
So from practically every angle singles ministry is not easy.
But it is worth it.
I have seen singles ministry work well. My wife was part of a large singles ministry at Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas. She thrived in this ministry.
So what is the secret?
To me it is all about finding folks with a passion for this type of ministry. Sure, leadership must wake up to this incredible need and get on board, but it will be the commitment of the singles themselves that will drive this ministry. If the single Christians in a local church do not seem all that interested in a singles ministry then it will not happen.
Certainly the need of single moms differ from college singles. Widows and single young professionals do not have a lot in common. But if each group can look outside themselves to serve others- then a wonderful foundation of ministry will be laid and only God knows where that might go.
I firmly believe that single Christians have so very much to offer and give. I have seen examples of this first hand. It is past time that the church recognized their contributions and create an atmosphere in which singles ministry can flourish.
What are your ideas on this topic? Share your wisdom with us!