ORGANIZING SINGLES’ MINISTRY
I. Why Singles’ Ministry
Scriptural reference: “I have made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake that I might be partakers thereof with you” (I Corinthians 9:19-23).
We have a mandate to share a changeless gospel with a changing world. As sure as the gospel stays constant, society is in constant
change. A phenomenon of our day is the fact that over one-third of our population is in the category of the single adult. Statistics tell us that one-third of all households in our nation are headed by a single adult and one out of five children live with a single parent. This large segment of society must be reckoned with by those responsible for the gospel. “Necessity is laid upon us.”
Change has a way of making us uncomfortable. It may even scare us. We are not always able or willing to predict or understand change or it’s inevitable results. Being strongly grounded in Bible precepts of marriage and family we are often not quite sure where we stand relative to this mass of single adults who are surrounding us. It is a challenge we must face. The unchanging gospel is sufficient to reach everyone. The ever expanding Kingdom that will grow big enough to fill the whole world, whose earthly executive offices are our churches, will be big enough to include the singles also. Yes, we must make room for all single adults, the never married, the widowed and the divorced.
Let us be very honest. It is the growing number of divorced people in this group that make us the most uncomfortable. As a church body we do not condone divorce. We believe the Bible opposes divorce. However, we must become mature enough to reckon with the difference between acceptance and approval, There is a difference between approving divorce and accepting the divorced person. These people are not only “out there” needing to be reached, but they are among us and are needing the healing of the body of Christ. Divorce is often more traumatic than death. Jesus said He was sent to heal the broken hearted and relieve the bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. In Luke four, when He quoted this, He stopped short of the reference to
judgment. His final judgment He will do when He comes again. We must leave the judgment to the great judge, Jesus Christ. In
the meantime we must accurately teach the scripture and declare the acceptability of the gospel. We need not fear. The gospel is still to “whosoever will”!
For the future of the segment of the church for which we are responsible we must confront the need of Singles’ Ministry. If one-half of all children in this decade will live with a single parent, we can restrict our sphere of influence in the next generation by ignoring the singles element now. The outreach, acceptance, care and concern exhibited by our churches to these hurting children has the potential of great impact for them, our church, our nation and the Kingdom. Can we rightfully overlook such a large segment of our society? I think not. Church, we have a responsibility. When Jesus saw a multitude in need of the care of a shepherd He was moved with compassion. Are we?
II. What Is Singles’ Ministry?
Singles ministry is a two-way street. It must be if it is to produce life. The important balance of taking in and giving out is as
simple as our breathing and is scripturally portrayed in the marked difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It should never be viewed as Ministry to Singles or Ministry of Singles, it is Singles’ Ministry, both to and of.
The Holy Spirit ministers many things to the believers. Two examples of this ministry are comfort and empowerment. It comforts the believer and also empowers the believer to affect others. The church, through the Holy Spirit, is capable and able to minister in a special way to the specialized needs of singles. We are instructed by scripture of Christian responsibility pertaining to the widows and children with one or no parents. Jesus showed by example his attitude toward those in fractured marital relationships when he offered the refreshing water of life to a marred vessel by the well of Samaria. This was ministry to singles. The result was ministry of singles when she effectively imparted to others what had been shared with her.
Caring and sharing — these are the human elements of the spiritual body of the church. This is also what singles’ ministry
should be. Real caring of and for them by the church, leadership and laity. Privilege received means responsibility accepted. As singles receive care for their special needs they must share by reaching out to bring others into a caring position. A successful singles’ ministry must be effectively administered in balance.
III. How To Establish A Singles’ Ministry
Singles’ Ministry is a specialized ministry. Being such, it’s set-up in any local situation must be relative to the local need. The
largest concentration of single adults are in the metropolitan areas. Singles’ ministries in these areas will probably be set up differently than in areas of smaller concentration. Let’s explore the two basic approaches to this specialized ministry.
The Sunday morning class approach may follow the traditional Sunday School class pattern with singles just being grouped together for a time of Bible study. Sometimes it is slightly expanded to include a pre-class time of fellowship and food/beverage, coffee, juice and perhaps donuts. This serves the specialized need of singles for much needed Christian social fellowship with a variety of people and also is enjoyable to share a “meal” with more than one’s self. This type thing can be further expanded to a monthly pot-luck dinner or a group dutch treat dinner at a restaurant. Even Paul, who perhaps was a single, enjoyed fellowship and food after church. He enjoyed it so much after a late night service they all lingered ’til daylight!
In many churches the natural leaders of a singles’ ministry are often so involved in other phases of the church that a Sunday morning class is not the best approach.
In some cases a Singles’ Fellowship has worked very successfully. This, of course, will involve a regular meeting at another designated time. The mode of operation for this type ministry can be tailored as best suits the situation. For continuity, regularly scheduled and purposefully planned meetings should be monthly with other meetings interspersed, such as food and fellowship times, recreational outings, group attendance to special church related meetings, visitation involvement and a variety of other church related activities.
Either of these two type ministries can serve all singles or be divided into special age groupings. However, as with any adult
programming, groupings should be done loosely and not enforced with definite age breaks. This will depend a great deal on the number of singles and their age spectrum.
Divisions of singles can be quite flexible. If at all possible your College-Career groups should be separated from other singles. This
will include all who are eighteen or have finished high school up through the age of twenty-eight, plus or minus a few years. The
important thing to remember in grouping adults is to let them find their comfort level. The next grouping can be a very broad group. They are all adults in mid-life and are quite compatible or if your group is large enough, divide it wherever it seems to be best. The one area that will not often mix well with the others is your older singles. One may handle this by limiting the upper age of singles to those who are still involved in the work-a-day world. (Another specialized area of ministry is the Senior Citizens’ group. It is a much needed ministry, very scriptural and a source of great help to them and the community and a source of great strength to the church. The singles’ ministry can often help with ministering to the elderly of the church in practical as well as spiritual ways. Both groups are benefited.)
One important phase of singles’ ministry is the children of the singles. It is so important for these children to find comfort in
“belonging” in order to help overcome their hurt and the psychological damage of not having two parents. Special activities that include them with their parents can be helpful and a blessing to their lives. Also, the problem of role models for the boys and girls can be partially alleviated when attention is given to this phase of singles ministry.
Leadership of the singles’ ministry is of paramount importance. The leadership structure does not have to be totally of the singles
group, although it should of necessity include singles. The leadership structure can be as simple as one good, caring teacher or leader, or it can include many with defined responsibilities. This will be determined by your approach to singles’ ministry and the size of your group. A married couple who have a real concern and burden and relate on a good level can often give balance and serve as a good bridge between singles ministry and other ministries of the church. Singles have for years served in our churches in a very responsible way and they are capable of leading a single’s ministry.
Programming of the singles’ ministry must be balanced. Proper emphasis should be placed on Bible teaching and scriptural principles as it relates to their special needs. The primary purpose of this ministry is to motivate spiritual growth and strength in it’s members and to open the door of salvation to other singles. The social activities and fellowship become an undergirding of this primary purpose. Balance of the natural and spiritual is very important.
Extreme caution should be taken to insure that the singles’ ministry never becomes patronizing or condescending. Neither should it degenerate into a sympathy club. It must be a positive ministry, wholesome, with eternal purpose at it’s core. The pastor’s attitude and approach is of ultimate importance. His recognition of this as a worthy ministry with worthwhile goals to be achieved will influence the whole church body in it’s recognition and acceptance. Slighting remarks in reference to “old maids” and “lonely hearts” are unkind and un-Christian. In referring to our church families and couples, such as “will all our families come forward” or “husbands bring your wives with you” let us be conscious of those who have no family or mate. This does not mean that families and couples are to be overlooked and never mentioned as such, rather we should just be sure to include the others as well.
Starting a singles’ ministry is much like starting any other new church program. It is not always easy. It takes prayer, real concern, a burden and finding the right leaders.
Pastors and church leaders, you have an awesome responsibility! The Gospel of the Kingdom is for everyone, and this includes the
singles, whether never married, divorced, or widowed. Will you accept the challenge?