Over the next few weeks, I will be outlining the problems I see with singles ministries, and what churches can do to fix some of those problems and strengthen their outreach to singles. I believe that incorporating singles via mixed ministries or singles ministries is important for a balanced, healthy church, as well as an outreach to a demographic that is traditionally marginalized by the church.
Over half of the population over age 16 is single in the US, but I find churches often completely ignore singles over the age of 18 or even actively reject them from fellowship. Furthermore, I’ve had ministry leaders at a number of churches blame the singles, when they would not do so for other groups in the church, and when they were clearly not really invested in reaching out to singles.
How am I qualified? I’m a single in my 40’s who has traveled around quite a bit and visited many churches. I’ve been a member of a number of singles ministries, sometimes because that was the only group that would have me. I am single by choice at this point, and I am fairly content with who I am. I have an undergraduate ministry degree, and I’ve worked as a missionary and as a church ministry leader.
What’s the Problem with Singles Ministries?
Some of these posts might be a bit painful to read. They were a good bit more painful to live. And lest you might think my experience with singles groups is unusual, I’ve talked to countless singles who’ve had similar experiences. I’ve just been single for some time, and since I’ve moved around a bit, maybe I’ve attended a few more churches.
Here are some things I heard just in the past two years during a search for a new church when discussing where I could plug into their church:
- “Singles aren’t really interested. We tried a singles ministry once, and it didn’t work out.”
- “Our church target group is married couples with children. We want to cater everything in our church to kids.”
- On asking about a Sunday School class marked for my age group: “This class is for married couples. We don’t want singles in married couples classes.”
- “We don’t have anything for singles here. But we need people to babysit during the service because it’s more important for married couples to go to worship together.”
Now you see why it took me two years to find a church! I would avoid singles ministries if it wasn’t sometimes the only group in the church where I was allowed.
However, I want you to know that while the first set of posts will be hard to read, I think there are some easy solutions, and they are really summed up in treating singles as just an important of a group as you would any other group in the church.
Here are some articles on being single in the church that you might find interesting or useful:
Are Single People the Lepers of the Church? by Gina Dalfanzo
Singles Ministries: Yea, Nay, or In Between by Adam Holz of Boundless
Why I Want to Leave the Church by Camerin Courtney
Where to go from here?
How many singles does your church have actively participating? Is it even close to half the population?
I did encounter some good things, and churches who are reaching out to singles, but I plan to discuss those in another post, so just hold on for that.
I would like to ask those of you who’ve been in singles ministries and had similar experiences to leave a comment, even if you are now married.