By Susan M. Clabaugh
There are many people throughout your church and communities who find themselves in my position—single, alone, and with no family.
I never dreamed I would end up alone. I do dream of the day Jesus returns for me to be His bride as He is the One I depend on for everything.
However, that doesn’t take away the loneliness and pain of being alone on earth. God created us for relationships—ultimately for a relationship with Him, but to be in relationships with others as well.
One of the places I would hope to find these relationships would be at church. However, I’ve found this to be a challenge. I wonder if there are many other single people who’ve had the same challenge, contributing to their absence in the local church.
Whether it’s because they never married, got divorced, or became widowed, there’s a gap of ministry to singles in the church. I truly believe families are important and it is crucial for the church to minister to them.
But speaking from my experience as a single adult, it’s hard to fit in—even in church. And sometimes, especially in church. There’s a large, unreached population of single adults in our communities. Both Christian and non-Christian.
What goes through the mind of a single adult, or any church member when there seems to be no ministry for them? For me, it’s been some form of this:
“If the church doesn’t value me or have time for me, then why would God?”
What can you do to address this question—and begin to reach singles in your church?
Make ministry to singles a priority.
Most churches are likely not large enough and with adequate resources (single adults) to hire a staff member to lead a singles’ ministry.
But if you lead a medium-sized or smaller church with fewer resources (and fewer single adults), consider recruiting some people in your congregation to facilitate community among singles. This could be in the context of a singles-only group or gathering—or it could be encouraging the families in your congregation to incorporate a rhythm of including the single adults in family activities.
Consider holding retreats, workshops, and events for singles just as you hold retreats, workshops, and events for couples, families and senior adults. Include all populations of people as you work to reach others for Christ.
If you’re not already doing this, consider offering connection points like specialized Sunday School, small groups, and social events for your singles. This gives them the option to connect with others who have similar life experiences.
Single adults face many of the same challenges that married couples, yet we face them alone. These are a few ways the church can help us make connections to build the relationships we need.
Acknowledge painful reminders.
Holidays (including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) can be painful reminders for hurting singles in your church who longed to have had children and weren’t given the chance.
Be sensitive to this as you recognize others on these man-made holidays. It’s important for leaders to affirm that our identity lies in Christ, not our marital or parental status.
Our foremost mission as Christians is sharing with everyone—single, married, young, or old, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
May the single, married, young and old alike who come to your church encounter God and His love and grace as you welcome them with open arms and a ministry waiting for them.