Lifeway Research: Pastors Encourage Single Adults, Some Provide Targeted Ministries
I’m afraid this is too little too late, and it also still sounds like a lot of pastors and Christians are apathetic about meeting the needs of single (especially never married) adults who are over the age of 30.
If you’re a church, or a secular or religious conservative, you need to meet people where they are and meet their needs where they are currently, rather than lambasting people for not being married, shaming them, or lecturing them about being single and the so-called importance of the Nuclear Family.
And stop putting the onus on single adults to meet their own needs and the needs of other single adults.
If your church has staff and devotes funds to minister to married with young children, drug addicts, divorced adults, or people in the grieving process,
you need to also set aside church staff and funds to set up programs and services to cater to single adults over the age of 30,
rather than making this hypocritical exception where you put the burden on single adults to set up single adults ministries and fund raise for single adult ministries.
To put this another way, many churches expect that older single adults who want more attention and effort poured into older single adults at the church will be told to take the matter into their own hands and to create and maintain singles classes and singles activities, rather than the church making it happen.
Most of you churches these days behave like international secular corporations, like a McDonald’s, where you cater to various special interest groups (such as married couples, divorced adults, people in addiction recovery, or millennials or gen Z), but you’re telling me, you hypocrites, you cannot be bothered to view older single adults as another interest group you would be willing to market to and serve? That makes no sense.
I’m sorry, but no. That is complete hypocrisy.
If your church (like many churches) has classes, social functions, pot luck meals, and sermons devoted regularly to ‘married- with- children couples’ and THEIR particular needs and concerns,
and you don’t demand that married members set up these classes and provide elbow grease to other married couples (and you don’t), it’s totally hypocritical and infuriating to demand that single adults do the heavy lifting for single adult ministries.
If your church is willing to pick up the slack and provide services to married couples (and all of you do this, because you WORSHIP parenthood, natalism, marriage and the Nuclear Family), you can damn well also cater to the needs and interests of older single (and childless) adults as well, and stop asking the single adults to sponsor, create, manage or maintain the programs in place for older single adults.
Another news flash for churches and preachers:
You’re not going to diminish the phenomenon of delayed marriage or the increasing number of single adults by doing any of the following
(which you’ve tried before for over a decade now, these approaches do not work, and actually drive singles away from churches AND from the faith itself, in some cases):
- shaming or criticizing single adults for being single and assuming they are still single because they are failures, losers, ugly, fat, too picky, selfish, or man-hating, career-obsessed feminists,
- by yelling at them to run out and marry right away
(that is not how marriage actually happens);
- wrongly thinking dating sites are an instant solution to finding a mate, so advising all the Christian singles you know to “just try dating sites like e-Harmony!”,
- lecturing adult singles over the age of 30 on the so-called wonders of The Nuclear Family and marriage
(as though the reason they’re not married yet is that they dislike, or don’t value, marriage or The Nuclear Family – eye roll),
- telling single adults bogus how- to- get- married advice that does not work
(such as, ‘Just trust in the Lord, pray, wait, have faith, and in due time, He will send you a spouse!,’
‘Once you’re content in your singleness is when God will send you a spouse,’ etc)
- refusing to help marriage-minded single adults who’d like to get married opportunities at church to meet other marriage-minded singles for the express purpose of dating leading to marriage
(i.e., saying that doing so would make church a “meat market,” that church’s only purpose is to “worship the Lord”),
- patronizingly instructing older single adults that their only or main purpose so long as single is to act as free labor to the church or to society in general (eg., to act as free babysitters to the married- couples- with- children, to act as free maid service to mop the church’s kitchen floor, etc).
August 16, 2022
By Marissa Postell
As the number of single adults in the United States continues to grow, so does the need for ministry to single adults in churches.
According to a 2020 profile of single Americans by Pew Research Center, nearly 1 in 4 (23%) U.S. adults ages 30-49 are single—not married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship.
And the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data on America’s Families and Living Arrangements reveals many of these have never been married.