Why Churches Don’t Have Singles Ministries (article)
I see a lot of arguing about this online, mostly by the unmarried.
Some adult singles want singles ministries/classes, some do not.
I think it depends on how the church in question runs the ministry.
Unfortunately, too many churches spend no money on the adult singles class; they treat the singles ministry (SM) like a “ghetto.” They drop you off there then forget about you and get back to the business of catering to the marrieds.
I have a hunch if more churches actually integrated the SMs into the rest of the church, you would not see adult singles saying, “Oh no, I’d rather NOT have a SM and just attend classes with the married people.”
Excerpts from first part of the page (please click link to read rest):
- BY KRIS SWIATOCHOIN
[Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries.]
LEADERSHIP · MARRIAGE & FAMILY
31 JUL, 2012
I have been single my entire adult life. Because I am single, I have had a front row experience of how churches are reaching and growing singles adults.
As a result, I have found that most churches simply did not know much about us nor how to reach us. After several years of serving on various single’s ministry leadership teams as well as starting my own, God called me to help others do the same.
Specifically to help reach the church, the pastors and staff; to educate and provide resources so that ALL churches would know how to reach singles.
While there are several large churches that have a singles pastor or director and are doing a great job in reaching and growing single adults, most churches do not. Most churches give various excuses such as:
[Church Excuse 1] We don’t have any single adults.
Well this is because you either are not defining singles correctly or simply have not looked at your membership demographics (or the demographics of your area).
In most large cities in the US, single adults are out numbering the married’s. I know this might be a shock to you considering the churches numbers do not reflect this. This is because we are not doing what is needed to reach them.
Single adults range from the 18 year old that still lives at home to the 29 year old single parent who has never been married to the divorced dad with grown kids to the 58 never married now taking care of their mom to the 68 widower who lives alone.
It’s not that you don’t have single adults in your church or community; it’s how to reach them.
So where do you start? How do you find them? 1) Look at your existing membership/attendance rolls and see who is not married. Categorize by age, past marital status, if they have kids that live at home or grown, etc. 2) Contact your town/city and find out the demographics of those living within a 5 mile radius. Once you find out this information, it will help you in the direction of how to reach them.
You may find out you have a lot of single mom’s or widows. Depending on what you have the most of could determine whom you try and reach and how to minister to them.
Please know I believe singles ministry is simply one way to bring singles into your church. The goal with all ministry is reach people for Christ, help grow them so they will in turn reach and grow others (single or married).
[Church Excuse 2] If we start one, I hear it will end up being a meat market.
I love to always answer this question and say, “Yes, it sure will, they can meet Jesus.” Churches have a huge fear that their singles ministry will end up being focused only on finding a mate.
My first thought is… “and where would you like us to find a mate… in a bar?”
My second thought is… “who is leading your singles ministry?”
Church as a whole can easily be a place to only be fed and healed from a physical standpoint. But didn’t Jesus use these ways to minister so he could get to the person’s heart? He would feed and heal the body so that he could later feed and heal the soul?
So if your singles ministry is thriving and growing and people come to meet the opposite sex, then who cares? It’s up to you as a church, as a pastor to get them connected to the whole body of Christ.
It’s up to you to get to know and build a relationship with them.
And if they do find their spouse at your church, why would that be so horrible? The key to all of this is a solid foundation, structure, communication, building leaders and so on. The same way it would be for any ministry in your church that may meet someone’s emotional and physical needs first.
Reader comments that were left on that page, including mine:
- Derek −
There are 3 main types of singles in the Church.
1. Those who are single and wish to be so. For them, more power to them.
2. Those who are single, but are indifferent to marriage. They say “if it happens, fine. If not, fine.”
3. Those who, like Hannah, Sarah, Rachel, Rebekkah, etc., are all in extreme pain for the want of, not a child, but a spouse.
Let’s focus on #3. For those, if the pain is real, then the Church leadership SHOULD address that pain. The Church should absolutely NOT, and I stress this point, NOT assume that these people are chosen by God to be single. They should also not assume that tenacity and persistence equals idolatry.
Hannah begged God “year after year” for a son and Eli did not say, “Shame on you for your persistence” or “focus on God” or some similar platitude. Rather, he said, “May God grant you what you have asked of him.” THIS is what response the Church *should* give to those singles who approach Church leadership and ask, “Please pray for me because I want a husband or wife.”
People have no qualms for prayer for a job. People have no issues with praying for the safety of a person deployed in the military. But if you dare ask for prayer for a husband or wife and they treat you as if you just asked them to pray that God will give you a trillion dollars. The default answer is, “Ummm, welll….” (pregnant pause).”
Frankly, I’m getting really angry with Church leadership who are not only married (but that’s another issue), but fail to address the pain and needs of the single population.
God’s template, laid down in Genesis 2, was for marriage, not singleness, despite Paul’s opinion that everyone should be single, mentioned in one of his letters.
This was clearly not an edict or mandate from God because it would contradict “He who finds a wife, finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord,” written by the wisest of all men, not to mention Gen 2.
So my advice is simple:
Single pastors, get off your butt and DO something for us singles. Pray WITH us. Pray FOR us. Pray OVER us, so that we might be receive the blessing of what YOU have, a spouse.
Get together all 1000 singles that are in your church who are both single and don’t want to be, and invoke the name of God publicly, communally, and congregationally. Stop teaching ONLY generic Bible study lessons that have no relevance to singleness.
If you bother to call your department the “Singles” department, but then do NOTHING to address our needs, then you are doing a horrible disservice for you demographic. There are 52 Sundays in a year.
You can at least afford maybe 10 of those to be dedicated to lessons about loneliness, money (single person = one income), marriage, sexual issues (remember, single = no sex), and other REAL issues that we face on a daily, hourly basis.
Christian Pundit reply to Derek:
- by christian pundit
Derek, I totally agree with your post. Many Christians (usually the married ones, but also occasionally the pious Christian singles who are thrilled with being single) will shame you and give you guilt trips or horrid platitudes if you admit you would like to marry, or if you ask if they would pray that God send you a spouse. You will hear cliches from them such as “Jesus is all you need,” “be content in your singleness,” or some other cliche’.
I thought I would have been married by now. I followed all the rules and advice since childhood (I accepted Christ as Savior in my childhood), when I was told by my Christian parents, by preachers, and in Christian books about relationships, that if I simply waited on God’s timing, prayed, and had faith, God would send me a spouse. I was engaged once, but I made it a bit past my 40s now and have still never married. Churches do nothing to help singles who are past their mid or late 20s.
About the only point I might quibble with you a bit is on the whole paradgim of the value of marriage vs. singleness, or the way you portrayed that. I like to uphold what Paul said about singleness, because too many married Christian people denigrate singlehood.
Christian culture has elevated marriage so much in our culture that they have turned it into an idol, and anyone who does not obtain that idol (meaning a spouse and kids) is looked down upon, treated like a loser or freak.
Christians need to learn to respect singles while they are single, to respect the state of singlehood itself, or, for the adults who deliberately choose to remain single their entire lives, they need to respect that choice as well, because God says He respects singleness (He says that via Paul).
I don’t fit in anywhere in most Christian discussions on these topics. I am single, but at the same time, I desire marriage. I don’t want to be ignored by churches and Christian culture while I am single, nor do I wish to be treated like a loser freak by other Christians while I am single, -but at the same time-, I do NOT want my desire for marriage shamed, nor do I want to be made to feel as though I’m being selfish or wrong for wanting or seeking marriage.
I too have noticed what you have- that Christians are fine with prayer for any topic under the sun, whether it’s for finances, healing of cancer, or what have you, EXCEPT for the unmarried person who makes a prayer request for a spouse. Christians will pray for anything except sending someone a spouse.
Then, all the sudden, the response is, “wanting to get married is idolatry! I will pray instead that you find contentment in your single state.”
About the only other group of Christians I see who get that similar treatment are infertile married Christian women who want to get pregnant; they sometimes get fed the cliched, obnoxious “be content as you are” comments, or, “just go serve in the nursery to satisfy your baby desires” lectures.
But other than that, no other group is treated quite as horribly in Christian circles as never- married adults who are past the age of 35, and following at a close second are the widows, widowers, and the divorced.
I have noticed that church members will cry buckets of tears, and spend a fortune on, ministering to homeless crack addicts, strippers, teen aged kids, and orphans in Africa, but won’t so much as lift a finger to help adult singles – whether that is spending more on adult singles ministries, praying for singles that God send them a spouse, helping them financially, inviting them over for meals on holidays, etc, whatever.
I also agree with you that it would not kill preachers to sermonize on topics that are meaningful to singles. As it stands now, most preachers give far, far too many “how to have a great marriage” lectures, or “how to spice up your sex life” sermons. It’s completely nauseating how frequently preachers cater and pander to married couples but won’t do squat for adult singles.
I went into more detail in a post about some of these things farther down this page in response to another person (though that post is now sitting in moderation), if you would like to see that (assuming that post ever gets approved to appear).
- by Jonathan −
As a single never-married man now into my early 40s I have noticed that there are only a few groups that the church as a whole focus on: married people, children, teenagers and the elderly.
If they do have a single’s ministry it usually cuts off at about age 25..like they expect any people over 25 to be married. When I grew up in church I was given the impression that it was unspiritual to look for a mate in church or for church to be a “meat-market”.
This is damaging to the church because where else are we expected to find a godly mate? Should we use the methods of the world?
No, we SHOULD be finding them in church but we’re ignored.
I want to get married and have a family of my own but so far I am getting no help from the church and left to my own devices I am foreseeing a lifetime of singleness which is, for me, a lifetime of misery and lonliness. If the church wants to show they value the traditional family and protect marriage, start with helping us slightly older never-marrieds find spouses in church.
Reply to Jonathan
- by christianpundit
I agree with your entire post, Jonathan. I’m about the same age as you, I have never married but wanted to be married and thought for sure I would have been married by now, but I am a woman.
I was taught by my Christian parents that I could expect to find a Christian spouse in church, and/or, if I prayed and asked God to send me a spouse, He would send me one.
I am very put off and annoyed by Christians who argue it is selfish, unseemly, sleazy, or unscriptural for a Christian single to hope to find a spouse in church – it’s usually married Christians who make those arguments, but on occasion, I see pious, overly spiritual, holier than thou Christian singles make the same points. I don’t see anything in the Bible against a single meeting a mate in a local body of believers (church).
On the other hand, and I am sorry if I sound – snotty?- here, but out of the few singles classes I’ve been to at a few churches and/or seen online, there are not many never married males (or heck, even divorced ones!) in my age range that attend, and when I do show up to a single class at a church, a lot of singles I see – both the males and females – are, …to put this delicately…, physically unattractive and/or socially awkward (downright dorky or weird).
Of course, not all Christian adult singles are dumpy, weird, frumpy, or have “issues” or baggage, but some of the ones who are “regulars” in church singles classes do seem to fall somewhere on that spectrum, which may be causing the more more stable or attractive folks to stay away.
A lot of Christian singles I see when I visit churches singles classes, who are over the age of 35, are quite frumpy looking, or terribly overweight. I work hard to stay in shape and look nice, meaning I jog regularly, keep my weight down, fix my hair when I go out, and wear makeup to church.
I have asked before on my blog (hosted on Word Press and called “Christian Pundit” (Link to Christian Pundit blog) -though since starting that blog a couple years ago, I now lean a little towards being an agnostic; I’ve not decided if I will stay in the Christian faith. I did accept Christ as my savior when I was a child, though), but I have asked on my blog before, for the Christians who whine that singles should not try to meet a mate in church, where do they advise a Christian single to go, a nudie bar?
Would Christians really prefer single women to hang out at strip joints, dives, and bars to pick up single men? I do not have an extensive social network of friends who can fix me up with single men.
The cliched response by Christians when I ask when and how I can meet single men is usually to “try a dating site,” which I have done before, but those don’t always work. There are a lot of creeps and weirdos, or guys I am just not interested in, on dating sites.
But your married friends will always point to the one anecdotal example of their best friend, Susie Q., who met her husband Barney W., on “eDate” type site. But what worked for their one buddy may not work for you. Dating sites have not worked for me.
I, like you, have also observed that churches cut off any meaningful ministries to singles around the early or mid twenties mark. If you are past your late 20s, churches have nothing for you to do, they have nothing for singles.
Churches of many denominations are still behaving as though it’s still 1953 and every one gets married by the time they are 25 years of age. 44% of the American adult population is now single, but this fact seems to go ignored by churches, or they simply do not care, and I do not understand their apathy towards single adults.
I have also given up on the biblical old chestnut of “be yoked only to another believer,” because there are hardly any Christian guys out there my age. If I were to wait around to be yoked to another believer, I will die alone.
I also see news story after story of so-called Christian men (some are married!) who are arrested for fraud, child molesting, spousal abuse, etc. I have known plenty of decent Non-Christian men. I don’t see why I (or any single female raised as a Christian) should limit their dating pool to only Christian men anymore, and I do not care what the Bible says about “being yoked.”
Where you say,
- “If the church wants to show they value the traditional family and protect marriage, start with helping us slightly older never-marrieds find spouses in church.”
I totally agree! Churches and preachers and conservative Christian think tanks bray and whine about delayed age of first marriages, or lack of marriages, but when you, a single, an unmarried person, freely admit to wanting marriage, they shame you for it!
If you tell another Christian that you are tired of being single and want a spouse, the average preacher, or Christian married lay person, will tell you something like, “be content in your singleness!,” “Jesus is all you need!,” “God doesn’t care about your earthly happiness, just think about eternity,” or some other platitude, and they will refuse to pray for you to gain a spouse, they will refuse to set you up on dates with eligible singles, etc.
If Christians care so dang much about traditional marriage and they keep saying they do, why are they not helping single adults who desire marriage to get married?
Why do they only keep appealing and ministering to those Christians who are ALREADY married or obsessing on how to attract and retain teen aged kids?
- by Sincerity
I agree that this post is spot on. I have lived in a few states and visited more churches that I can remember. I have been in all kinds of ministries and I have been in small groups with married couples, elderly, widows, and young adults.
My argument is this: If the church is going to make ministries for kids, divorcees, parents with grown kids, etc. etc. why don’t they have a ministry for the singles beyond college years who have to deal with all the hardships of life alone?
And the idea of mocking singles because they’re looking for a spouse in church has been thrown in my face a few times too. I hate that attitude. First of all I don’t go to church to find a spouse. Finding one there would be awesome, but I go to obey God’s will for His children. I do it out of obedience.
It is, however, a very lonely experience many times because singles generally have nowhere to go. If you don’t help babysit the children or perform an instrument in a band, orchestra, or sing then there really isn’t anything you can do. But hey, maybe you should leave the country as a missionary… as if a missionary is only someone who goes over seas and not someone who speaks of Jesus Christ where they work.
The church is failing miserably in this area and unfortunately number of singles are growing in every city. What is the church going to do when their kids can’t find a spouse anywhere or decide to stop going to church all together?
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