Pam and I were older when we married, so we both spent many years as a single adult. Consequently, we're sensitive to reaching single adults through our churches.
Perhaps one of these suggestions will help you as you reach this group in your community:
- Know the demographics of your ministry area. If you don't know the general number of single adults in your community, you need to check the demographics. You can't reach people you don't know are there.
- Recognize differences among singles. An 18-year-old unmarried single is different from a 30-year-old divorcee, who's also different from a 65-year-old widower. All are technically "single," but their life stages and needs are different. An unfocused single adult ministry won't likely reach all of them.
- Affirm the goodness of singleness. Jesus was single. Paul was likely single. In fact, the apostle recognized the value of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. While the call to singleness is likely for the few, the Scriptures nevertheless affirm this calling. Too few church leaders, though, help us recognize the same.
- Be careful not to promote only "couples" as the right pattern for living. For example, a "Couples 1" small group signals that single adults may not be welcome, even if that's not the case. Likewise, if "family" in your church means only couples with children, you might miss a number of people in your congregation.
- Teach on biblical marriage. Everyone—including single adults—needs to hear the biblical perspective of marriage. I appreciate Tim Keller's words here: "Single people cannot live their lives well as singles without a balanced, informed view of marriage. If they do not have that, they will either over-desire or under-desire marriage, and either of those ways of thinking will distort their lives."
- Use single adult role models in sermon and teaching illustrations. Consider Lottie Moon, the missionary. Or John Stott, the pastor. Or Corrie Ten Boom of The Hiding Place fame. Or faithful, godly singles you've known. You affirm singleness when you tell these stories.
- Enlist singles to serve in leadership positions in your church. They have much to offer. Allow them to use their giftedness and maximize their availability to serve the Lord as leaders. Your congregation will be stronger because you did so.
- Strengthen your ministry to college students. I've already noted the danger of pigeonholing singles into one stage of life, but I emphasize this group for one reason: Many churches neglect this group. Reach out to your congregation's collegians wherever they attend school. If there's a university near your church, seek ways to be an influence on that campus.
If you're a single adult, what would you add? If your church is reaching singles, how are you doing it?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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