4 Sure-Fire Ways To Drive Singles From Your Church
By: Vanderbloemen September 29, 2014
As a young professional, I’ve had several location changes in the last 10 years. Moving for college, moving for grad school, moving for a job after grad school, etc. And amidst those moves, I’ve had the privilege to visit and attend many different churches.
In my experience visiting so many different churches, I’ve discovered one thing: there is no ministry for which there is less of a roadmap than singles ministry.
Children’s ministry, student ministry, small group ministry… Most churches have a general idea of what those ministries should consist of and their best practices. But singles ministry? Everyone has widely varied ideas – or no clue at all – of what ministering to the single people in their church should look like.
From talking with several other single friends who have searched for new churches (or drifted away from regular attendance or church altogether) due to this issue, there is one recurring theme – they often felt isolated or forgotten.
I certainly don’t have any brilliant or one-size-fits-all solutions. However, from listening to how many churches operate regarding the single people in their congregation, I do have some ideas about how not to treat the singles in your church family.
Here are 4 sure-fire ways to drive the singles from your church:
1. Don’t offer any programming that is tailored for their demographic.
You don’t have to call it a “Singles Ministry” (and I understand why some churches steer clear of this term, which my awesome colleague Caroline touches on in her blog post, “Are You Failing Your Young Adult Ministry?”). It doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as you intentionally provide opportunities for the singles/young professionals in your church to have community with each other, even if it’s just one of your small groups that is predominantly dedicated to that demographic.
Don’t get me wrong, offering small groups that have mixes of all age groups and life-stages is wonderful. However, just as young moms or students like to have a community of mutual support and understanding of where they are in their walk, so too young professionals would like the opportunity for mutual support and understanding. The key is facilitating opportunities for them to have that, rather than assuming they would rather plug in to your mixed-age small groups (where, let’s be honest, they may end up being the only single and/or childless person in the group).
If, at this point, you’re thinking, “But we don’t have enough single people at our church to offer anything tailored for them,” then I would challenge you to begin where you are and pray for it to grow. Ask the single people at your church for input, and encourage them to lead the programming for their demographic.
2. Teach sermon series on marriage or parenting without offering applications for them.
Nothing will make a single or childless person feel more isolated than offering a sermon series about marriage or parenting that doesn’t include applications for where they are in life.
Note: “This information on marriage or parenting is good information for their future” does not count as the application for them. Assuming they all will be or want to be married or parents might just add to the misconception that their life is somehow incomplete without a spouse or children. Encourage them where they are in their life now rather than where you think they will be or want to be.
3. Assume that they will reach out or speak up if they need to get connected.
I’m not sure if this is a trait of singles, a trait of millennials, or just human nature, but we all long to be connected and in community. However, we’re not always very good at speaking up and saying when we need that. Our society is more plugged-in-yet-isolated than ever, and friendships can be harder to attain and maintain as single people grow older.
As I mentioned before, the key here is facilitating opportunities for community. It’s not that the singles in your church are spouse-hunting and wanting to meet all the other single people in our church. It’s that we want genuine friendships and community with those in the same life-stage as us, just as the high school youth or young moms do. Creating and nurturing opportunities for real friendships among the singles at your church will strengthen your church body and attract more people to it.
4. Don’t show excitement or support for what they are involved in.
Among the many church events aimed at young families, it can be easy for the singles in your church to feel that their fellow church-goers aren’t that interested in what occupies their day-to-day lives. We all lead busy lives, but if your church exhibits a top-down attitude of genuine care and support of the lives and interests of the single people in your church, they are bound to feel more included and cared about. And you never know what interests, talents, hobbies, and skills they may have that could benefit the entire church body.
Not much – if any – of a church’s budget or time is investing in their ministry to the singles in their church. But if you take a thoughtful approach to facilitating opportunities for community among your singles and supporting their stage of life, you may just discover a growing and vibrant demographic of singles contributing to and being nurtured by your church body.
What tips do you have for churches to minister to and equip the singles in their congregation?
If you liked this, then you’ll also like 5 Characteristics Millennials Are Looking For In Church.