We are no longer predominantly a society of nuclear families. By the year 2000, 52% of the population of the United States over the age of 25 will be single. The implications of this statistic within the church are enormous. Often the issues of "singleness" are not addressed by the church because it sees its role solely as a model of marriage and family.

What singles want from their church:

  1. Staffing with appreciation of the single lifestyle. Ideally, the person leading the singles ministry would have been single for at least five years. Without this experience, it is hard to connect with the feelings, hear the hidden messages, or feel certain emotions. Specialization in grief recovery, divorce recovery, and life transitions is helpful.

  2. Informed awareness of the issues and an ongoing intention of including singles in all aspects of parish life. Congregations need to get beyond the stereotypical thinking about singles, divorced, widowed, married, and couples; and look at all people as God's creation.

  3. Shared singles programs across denominational lines. This is essential to smaller churches. Singles want to network with others who understand the basic needs of singleness and learn from each other how to cope.

  4. Leadership of denominations to study singles issues and develop policy and programming to meet their needs. Seminaries must offer singles' ministry training so that clergy can be informed of and educated in issues of singleness and prepared to develop appropriate attitudes as well as programs in their parishes - regardless of the parish size.

  5. Understanding that every single's primary need is for personal wholeness and spirituality. Overloading on social outings does not fulfill the primary need. Bible study and a chance to share dreams, needs, joys, and sorrows are what is sought by singles.

  6. To include them as part of a larger family. God's family is not, nor has it ever been, a nuclear family (mother, father, 2.2 children). The members of Christ's family are many and diverse. Yet singles often are discriminated against, especially when churches sponsor "family dinners."

Reprinted from Single In the Church: New ways to minister with 52% of God's people by Kate Collier-Stone (AL137) with permission from the Alban Institute, Inc., 7315 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 1250W, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3211. Copyright (c) 1992. All rights reserved.

Kay Collier-Slone, Ph.D., received her doctorate in counseling psychology from the Union Institute. She is coordinator of singles' ministry for Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington, Ky., and the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington. She maintains a private counseling practice and leads on-going groups and singles' consulting activities under the name Solo Flight. She is the editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Advocate, and author of numerous books.