Celebrating and Encouraging Single Adults in Your Church
By Kalie Lowrie
The term ‘single adult’ can describe many different people – never married, dating, divorced, a parent who has never been married, widowed, and on and on the list goes. It can also describe a 21-year-old and an 85-year-old. It’s a marital status you have to check off on an application, but it should not be a box we put people into in the church. While some churches have developed singles ministries that are effective, the reality is many are missing opportunities to love, encourage, and empower single people within their church body.
In my twenties, I never thought I would be writing about single adult ministry because my plan was to graduate college, get married, have children and probably be a stay-at-home mom. Yet, here I am in my mid-30s, never having been married, pursuing a career, serving in my local church, and seeking to follow the plan God has for me. Helping singles find a place in the church has become something that I am very passionate about, because it is something I have had to learn over the last 15 years. It has been hard at times, but it has also been sweet and joyful. I do not want my singleness to define me. It is part of who I am, but it is not who I am.
In order for the church to celebrate singles and love them well, it is important to see each person as complete, valuable, and whole. Romans 8:16-18 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” We are all children of God and heirs with Christ. Single or married, that relationship with God does not change.
Singles do not need to be cast off to a remote classroom and considered cared for. Contrastingly, they should not be worked to the bone because “they have more time, since they don’t have a family.” Singles are valuable members of the church. They can contribute their time, talent, and treasures, just like married couples can. In my years of singleness, I have sought to grow in my faith, serve others, learn more of who God created me to be. I am definitely not perfect, but I have tried to use this time of my life to bring glory to God, just as I hope to do the same thing one day in marriage.
I have been blessed to attend churches where I did not feel limited or judged by my singleness. I’ve been asked to serve on committees; lead Bible studies, small groups, mission trips; and serve in a number of other leadership and ministry roles. I have not felt excluded from positions of leadership or service due to my marital status, but I know friends who have experienced that in the past. I would encourage churches to help support leaders in their congregations.
When I joined my church a year ago, after moving to town a few months before, I approached our discipleship pastor and asked if I could start a small group at my home. The Lord had blessed me with a home that was great for hosting others, and I wanted to use my house for ministry. At the time, there was not a group in the church for young adults, and I thought if we started one, maybe more young adults would be interested in joining.
We started with five people last fall, and over the last year, more than 20 people have come to our study. Some come consistently, and others occasionally. The beautiful part about our group is we do not really fit in any category. We range from 20 years old to mid-50s, single, married, and married with children. Some weeks we have children from babies to an 11-year-old join us for Bible study or prayer time. Regardless of marital status, we are all seeking to study the Bible, grow in our faith, and experience community together. It is truly a beautiful picture of the church, because regardless of someone getting married or having a child, they do not have to leave our group. There is value in sharing perspectives as a young single mother or as a married husband without children yet. In just the same way, we see different perspectives when the lawyer in our group talks about justice or the physician talks about showing compassion to those who need healing. The beauty of the body of Christ is that we are all different and together, with our differing experiences and perspectives, we can serve and love and show Christ to the world.
My encouragement to church leaders is to seek out singles and help them find ways to serve and lead. Empower them to be part of the life of the church and use their gifts for the glory of God. When you preach, include illustrations that relate to single adults. When you create a new class, consider the possibility of a multi-generational group with a mixture of single adults and married adults. Greet individuals who are visiting alone on a Sunday morning and tell them you are glad they are there. Small efforts can go a long way in creating an environment that welcomes single adults into the body of Christ.
*The views expressed are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pastor’s Common