I have been single my entire adult life. Because I am single, I have had a front row experience in observing how churches are reaching and growing adult singles. I have found that most churches simply do not know much about us or how to reach us. After several years of serving on various singles ministry leadership teams, and starting my own, God called me to help others do the same: specifically, to help reach the church, pastors, and staff and to educate and provide resources so that all churches will know how to reach singles.
While there are some large churches which have a singles pastor or director and are doing a great job in reaching and growing single adults, most churches do not. Some common excuses are:
"We don’t have any single adults."
Well, this is either because you are not defining singles correctly, or you simply have not looked at your membership demographics (or the demographics of your area). In most large cities in the US, single adults are outnumbering those who are married. 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 singles.
Single adults range from the 18 year-old who 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 year-old who never married and is now taking care of a parent, to the 68 year-old widower who lives alone. It’s not that you don’t have single adults in your church or community. You just don't know how to reach them!
"If we start a singles group, 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 feed and heal so he could then get to the person’s heart? He would minister to 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?
"We don’t have the resources."
I realize hiring a pastor or director does cost money. However, training a lay leader to work under an existing pastor does not. Most single adults have a way to pay for the things they might need. I always say this about ministry: “Just do less and allow the singles to do more.” If your church isn't able to underwrite a huge conference or retreat, so what? Put on a one-day conference at another church. You aren’t able to order those Bible studies you wanted for all the singles? Since when do we need the church to buy our Bible studies? Don’t ever let resources keep you from doing what God has called you to do. God will provide.
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said.And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Matthew 14:17-20).
"It's better to include singles in our overall ministry of the church, and not separate them out."
Singles ministry can be difficult and time-consuming, due to the various needs of singles. However, churches cannot ignore that all people have specific needs and those needs also cannot be ministered with one method. This is why we have ministries like youth group, women’s groups, and seniors' ministries. I also say, “Not all churches are called to have a singles ministry but all churches are called to minister to singles.” It’s not that you necessarily have to have this huge singles ministry with a pastor or director. It’s more about how you minister to singles who might have specific needs, such as how to build relationships for friendship or marriage, or needs such as divorce recovery, single parenting, finances, or loneliness. Single adult ministry isn’t separating singles out from the body but instead, helping them grow in their own walks in a way that enhances the entire body of believers.
"I have no idea where to start."
You can start with my ministry! The Singles Network has a ton of great resources to help you get started and keep going. Besides myself there are a ton of other great teachers, speakers, authors and pastors who are ready to help you as well.
Please know, as a single adult I am a proven example of how much someone's life can be impacted, when a church decides to reach out to singles. My first experience was a college ministry. In my twenties it was a weekly gathering sponsored by a church that allowed young single adults to learn to be leaders while growing in their faith. This singles ministry would create pastors and leaders who would start churches, become missionaries, Sunday school teachers, and more. As I got older I would be a part of many more singles ministries that helped encourage, connect, and provide resources. I can't even begin to count how many of my single friends have grown in the walk with the Lord by way of a successful marriage and children, their work, their relationships and their ministries.
I am a part of a population that is ready and willing to serve the Lord. A population that could use support, counsel and encouragement. A population that needs discipleship. A population that can make an eternal difference. I encourage you to start today, asking God if you have been reaching ALL for Christ. Asking God what you need to be doing to reach the single adults in your church and community. And please know, when you make the effort to pour into a single adult, you are impacting the family of the future.
Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment (co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources); From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus' Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions (includes a leader's guide and conference/retreat of the same name). Kris is currently working on two new books: The FAQ's of Singles Ministry with author/speaker Dennis Franck and A Fine Line: Discerning Truth From Sin.
TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries helps churches, pastors and single adult leaders evaluate, develop and support their single adult ministries through high-energy speaking engagements, results-oriented consulting and training and leadership development conferences and seminars. Click here to request a FREE "How to Start a Single Adult Ministry" guide.
FromHisHands.com Ministries is Kris' speaking ministry. If you've ever heard her speak, you know that Kris is the kind of speaker who keeps the crowd captivated, shares great information and motivates people to make a difference in the lives of those around them! She speaks to all church audiences on everything from "first impression" ministry to women's topics to singles and young adults. She can speak on a Sunday morning, at a woman's retreat or for a single adults conference. Bring Kris to your church today!
Publication date: May 1, 2014