Our church culture is one which often inadvertently marginalizes singles. Let’s begin to intentionally and strategically create communities that honor the image of God in single adults – not as an afterthought, but as a purposeful focus. If half of our population is single (never married, separated, divorced, or widowed), then we need to realize this demographic is not marginal. Missiologically speaking, we are not reaching a huge demographic of our population because our church does not reflect the single population rise in our society.
David Platt urges us in this video (Radically Single) to value singles: “Church, let us affirm singleness as a good gift from God. That portrays the Gospel of God. And let’s exhort our single brothers and sisters alongside their married brothers and sisters. To use His good gifts in all of our lives for His great glory in the world…”
So how do we value singles beyond words? What are some actions that we can take to touch lives and love singles well? Here are some ideas and practical ways to love singles in your church community.
- Pray – Commit to pray for a single adult on a consistent basis. I am single in my 40’s with no immediate living family. I do not have a husband or mom or dad praying for me on a consistent basis, but God has provided several friends who intentionally take time to pray for me as they would for their spouse. One of my favorite prayer warriors calls me every few months and leaves a prayer on my voicemail. I never delete them. I stack them up and listen to them over again whenever I am feeling all alone and marginalized. Do not underestimate the power and value of a prayer for our single friends.
- Invite – Invite singles to sit with you at church. Include them as a part of your family. Love them by showing that you want to worship alongside them in fellowship and community. Often singles will go to church, sit by themselves, and feel lonely in a crowd. True community is more than just gathering in one place. Living life deeply together and sharing experiences binds our hearts together. It starts with an invitation.
- Invest – Invest in the lives of a few single adults in your church. Include them in family activities – sports outings, days at the beach, movie night, dinner, etc. Call them on the phone to check on them and see how life is going. Let’s live out the aspect of community and fellowship of our church to include those who do not have a family. Involve them in your own family activities outside of the walls of the church building.
- Include – Single adults often struggle in unique ways during the holidays. Sitting by themselves at church, not having a place to go to celebrate, not receiving birthday or Christmas gifts, longing for a family of their own, and watching as the majority of the married church families celebrate without them. Intentionally inviting singles to sit with you at church, join you for Thanksgiving dinner, be given a Valentine, be included for the Super Bowl party, etc. will bless the hearts and lives of the singles in your community.
- Listen – Singles may not have anyone to talk with about their life, struggles, and joys. Make deliberate effort to initiate and engage singles in meaningful conversation about their lives. Listen and be a sounding board for them as they share their thoughts and experiences.
- Serve – Be creative and think about how you can serve one or two singles in your church. Help out with house projects, cook them a meal every now and then, give them a gift card, send a single woman flowers (she may never receive them from anyone else), take them hunting/fishing, be their emergency contact (some singles have no one to call during an emergency), etc. As you invest in the lives of your single friends, you will discover that there are areas where you can serve and love them well to demonstrate the love of Christ.
To Pastors & Leaders:
- Allow single people to serve in leadership positions. Paul was single and revered as a powerful leader. Our current church culture does not seem to value singles as much as we do married folks when filling leadership positions. Since ½ of the population is single, we should empower and encourage godly single leaders who are called to serve in the church. This encourages others who are singles and shows value to all seasons of life.
- The leadership of the church needs to demonstrate and model how to love singles well. Show honor and value to singles through your actions and language as a lifestyle. Others will learn from you and learn how to live this out in their lives as well. This will help change the church culture to become more sensitive, inclusive and loving towards singles.
- Rather than teaching a series on marriage, why not just focus on those principles that you want to accomplish (communication, conflict resolution, honor, etc.) It is often said that there are “principles” that singles can gain from marriage series. So, why not just go ahead and focus on those principles so that you are speaking directly to your full audience?
- Be conscious of language. Consistently, from the stage and in promotion, use inclusive language. Instead of saying, “Bring your family to our Easter service” say “Join our family for our Easter service.” Slight change, but much more “single-friendly.” Church language and promotion is notoriously unfriendly toward singles. It is typically all about family and the culture is predominantly focused on married people. This may be one reason why you will not find many single adults in church. Changing our language to be more inclusive on a consistent basis will be more welcoming and it will begin to change the culture if the church leaders are leading the way in this.
May we learn to love and value singles well so that they, too, will be encouraged and equipped by the church community to radically live out their faith for the glory of Christ!