THE SINGLE ADULT
By: Thetus Tenney
With our growing congregations the word “singles” has assumed a larger meaning today than in years past. This growing group includes college and career people, young to middle-age widows and widowers, the adult never-marrieds, the senior citizen widows and widowers, and the singles by divorce. Some statistics tell us there are possibly 43 million singles in the United States, and that one of every three households is headed by a single. This is a strong statement for the need of the church to become aware of this growing percentage of our population, understand their needs, recognize them in a meaningful way and minister to them. We must make a proper place for them, giving credence and value to the single life. The single may be a small segment of the local church, but if they feel a misfit there is no way we will reach out to the millions of singles and bring them into the ministry of the church. The stature and image of the single must be elevated. This is the responsibility of the church and the individual adult single.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure put on people who are single. The world offers its snars and often the church is not understanding being unkind in remarks and in our own way applying pressure. It is unkind to tease someone about their being single. It is a subtle insinuation that there is something wrong or they would be marrieds. It is a “put down” and not indicative of Christian courtesy. The pressure on singles in the church is more intense than it is in the world. This often alienates the single from the church or results in marriages that should not be. Either way seeds of bitterness, rejection and inferiority are shown.
To be married is not the ultimate goal in life. The ultimate goal is fulfillment in God’s Kingdom according to His will. Singles, as well as the church, must assume the responsibility of giving meaning to their position by developing a feeling of self-worth. A single is a whole person. For any relationship of two people to be strong it must be made up of two whole individuals. Married or not married makes no difference in the intrinsic value of a person. God sees us not as couples but as individuals. We must do the same.
The church family must care, love, and assume responsibility for the singles, but not de-value them in a patronizing way. The single adult must lean on, integrate into and lovingly respond to this, knowing they are a valuable part of that family and it’s collective responsibility. Once the image of the single adult is elevated, we will be better equipped to reach the millions of single adults in our country using the dedicated adult singles of our local congregations.
It is often difficult to get adults in the local congregation to unite for effective ministry. They may be uncomfortable in accepting themselves, or they may have become self-oriented from living singularly and therefore withdrawing from group ministry. If a ministry for the single adult is ever to become part of our congregation, we must all accept responsibility for it. This ministry will enhance growth in our church family, and will become a specialized outreach to other single adults in the same way other specialized ministries have become part of our church program.
All people are single once, many more then once. As a single adult there is a special ministry for you. A single can minister to other singles in a specialized way. No one understands the trauma of death or divorce like those who have experienced it. Understanding extended becomes a ministry as friend/friends help them re-establish a single life within the protection of the church family. The never-married single adult grows through the sharing of other lives. The college/career young single adult needs the undergirding of strong Christian fellowship in the early years of life-building. A growing maturing single adult ministry in the local church opens rich opportunities.
The scripture portrays the integrity of the single life. Joseph had a most fulfilling, productive and important life. He was a man of spiritual integrity. Joseph was single for the most part of the story we relate to. He was a very important cog in God’s plan and will. He accomplished a lot. John the Baptist was most probably a single adult. He, like Joseph, had a profound effect of his world. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were evidently single adults who were very close friends of Jesus. Anna spent most of her life as a single, having been widowed at a young age. It is debatable as to whether or not Paul was married. Jesus Christ, himself, was a single Person. This is not a bad line-up of single adults in productive ministry. They made an impact on their world.
All single adults do not contribute their fullest to the ministry of the body of Christ, but they are able to contribute in abundance. Singleness must not become an excuse to hide from responsibility or a trick of the enemy to bring defeat in the ultimate purpose of life.
Jesus had something to say on the single life. In the 19th chapter of Matthew He said that some will marry, some will not. Some will remain single willfully. Some will not marry in conflict with what they feel to be the will of God. So they have done it for the Kingdom’s sake. This is sometimes a life-long state, and sometimes for an extended period of life at which point God does present the opportunity for lives to link together for a different phase of ministry. Marriage or not marriage, the will of God is what is important.
Jesus emphasized relationship ministry in His life. He chose those with whom he shared Himself so fully. These relationships were motivated not by lack or loneliness, but by pure love. Beware of relationships that grow from loneliness. Relationship should grow from love, sharing and ministry.
It is important to develop the whole person. Colossians 2:10 tells us that completeness comes in Christ. Ephesians 4:16 teaches us that if individuals are to minister in the body, every single joint contributes. It is a part of the whole, but it is also a part in itself. We are a Noah society where all animals walk two by two, but that is not the way the New Testament presents the body of Christ. We are individual as well as a part.
Singles have a liberty to minister because they are in more direct control of their lives. I Corinthians 7:32 sets the priority for the unmarried-“Care for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” If you are a single adult, take advantage of your singleness. Singles can become very self-centered and set in their ways because there is not consistently as strong a demand on their time.
Single years should be productive, not wasted. Single Joseph lived with a dream-a purpose. (When he saw his sheaf there was only one, not two!) That dream was predicated on his purpose in life as it related to the will of God. This dream pervaded and captivated him. He lived a life of integrity because he had a goal and a purpose. He came out of the prison of his circumstances to fulfill his dream and accomplish his purpose. He served people so well that he was remembered and brought into a larger ministry. By serving others he served himself, too. If he had spent his time lying in his cell, sleeping until noon, communicating with no one, not caring about the others with him, he would have probably remained a prisoner all of his life-never ascending to rulership and the ultimate purpose of God. He busied himself with the problems of others who were in his own plight. He was active. He was in tune. He was spiritually involved. He could speak with the voice of authority. He was single. Taking good advantage of today insures a better tomorrow.
Statistics say there are 43 million singles to be reached. May our church family and the singles who are part of it make room to “set the solitary in the family.” (Psalms 68:6)
* 40% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce
* 62% of marriages performed in Florida in 1982 ended in divorce
* Between 1962-1981 the number of divorces tripled.
* 45% of all children will live with one part before age 18
* 1980: 12,000,000 children less than 18 years of age had experienced divorce/separation
* 1/2 of all divorcing couples have been married less than 7 years; 1/2 have been married longer
* In 1976 1/2 marriages ended in divorce (all time high)
* 9 out of 10 single parents are women
* The number of single parents families has increased 68% since 1970
* The percentage of female-headed families has nearly tripled since 1960
COMMON SIGNS OF ANXIETY
Physical Emotional Mental
-sleep problems -worried -poor concentration
-easily tired -easily excited -confusion
-digestion -restless -rapid speech
-muscle tension -nervousness -rapid thoughts
-excessive swelling -irritable -indecisive
-dizziness -vague fears -distractible
-diarrhea -frequent self-doubt -unclear thoughts
-“butterflies” in -excessive health -distortion of stomach concerns perception
-frequent urination -dependent others
-pounding hearts -panicky
-shortness of breath
-numbness/tingling of skin
(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)
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