The Great Disappearing Singles Ministry?
- Thursday, February 16, 2012
Of course, maybe culturally-relevant programs weren’t really what attracted Boomers and Gen-X’ers into church to begin with. Maybe the fact that few of our modern singles strategies have had any staying power means that programs aren’t as crucial as what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of his people. Maybe the jaded refutation of church by our Millennials proves that programs aren’t what singles groups need, as much as a Philippians 4:11-12—regardless of our circumstances—to Christ.
Re-evaluating Fellowship in Community
Either way, authentic communities of faith are what Millennials who do attend church say they want, even though “community” has been an elusive goal for most conventional singles ministries since before today’s twenty-somethings were born.
Some experts say a conventional singles ministry can expect a roughly 50% turnover rate every year or so. This has become prohibitive for building genuine community in singles-specific groups. Such turnover is due not only to the migratory job picture of some singles, but the sheer transitory disposition among many of today’s singles.
Think about it: How often have you gone church-shopping? Have you ever assessed the viability of a church disproportionately on the type of vibes you get from the singles ministry—or lack of one? After a while, don’t you think churches get wise to the fact that shoppers for singles ministries will only be satisfied until the next big thing comes along?
Maybe the church with the most solid theological teaching where you live doesn’t have a conventional singles group. Should that be a deal-breaker? After all, is anybody ever 100% content in their church choice? By making the lack of—or type of—singles ministry in your church a sticking point, could you be Matthew 6:28-34 to a higher place in your stratification of church essentials than is healthy?
Or even biblical?
Singles ministries are not mentioned in the Bible. Granted, neither are high school ministries, or even church membership. By focusing on what a church does or doesn’t offer unmarried people, might we run the risk of making more out of our marital status than we should?
Churches are James 1:22-27 to look after widows and orphans. We’re to make sure the physical needs within our communities of faith are met. Our spiritual leaders are to preach Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. God-focused corporate worship and intentional personal discipleship should dominate our fellowships.
If your church isn’t doing these things, then you have a right to be righteously upset. However, like many other things churches in North America do that aren’t prescribed in Scripture, maybe singles ministry should be how you serve your church, not how the church serves you.
“Ah,” you interject. “We’re also supposed to love each other. And might my church not be loving me because they don’t provide the ministries I think I need?”
Loving the people in our churches, despite whatever luxuries we think our own church lacks, could be just the testimony our fellow congregants need to see from us. Why prove the negative impressions they have of single adults by our lack of evidence to the contrary?
And hopefully, your frustration with how your church handles singles isn’t, in actuality, a manifestation of some latent frustration you may be having with God himself, since his sovereign providence has yet to grant you a spouse. According to the apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 7 is supposed to be a gateway to deeper service for God, not private resentment over our marital status!
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