The Singles Question – Will Your Church Stand?
Several years ago, I had the sincere honor to lead a singles ministry. I was a single at the time, and it is difficult to capture all the experiences that made this time so special. From learning to preach and teach God’s Word, to conducting prison ministry, to serving those in need in my area and abroad, to the numerous baptisms and restorations I was blessed to be a part of, there are too many experiences to count! I was not paid to lead. I had my day job, and my various personal pursuits, but my singlehood afforded me something rather unique: an autonomy over time and resources that I could use for God’s Kingdom.
I was not unique in this as there were many examples of single brothers and sisters who lived incredibly sacrificial lives. I have seen ministries who embodied these passages, and I saw how God blessed their faith and action!
Whispers of Falsehood
Have you heard the whispers of the “dead” ministry? The one that should be avoided at all costs? The one that your college students dread going into? That many effectively avoid by either remaining with their campus ministries an extra year (or two), or jumping in to serve a teen ministry? Have you heard the whispers of the ministry that is like a prison sentence? Where you have nothing to do but bid your time awaiting for the savior of marriage to come rescue you? Have you heard those whispers that singlehood is really a less spiritual state than marriage? Far from being a blessing, a gift, or an opportunity, it is something worth avoiding?
1 Corinthians 7:32-34 presents quite the contrast: “32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided.”
The passage continues to describe singlehood in the following way: “35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”
Is it possible that Satan knows just how powerful the singles ministry could be for God’s Kingdom?
The Growing Single World
The number of single adults in the United States has been growing steadily each year. According to Pew Research Center , 38% of the adult age group (aged 25-54) are reported as unpartnered (that is unmarried and not cohabitating). There is an additional 9% within this age group that are unmarried, but cohabitating. That is a combined 47% of the 25-54-year-old adults that is often directly ministered by our singles ministries. Our singles ministries, which are the primary arm of ministry for single people, are being asked to minister to this ever-growing portion of our population.
Is your church prepared for this reality? Are your singles ministries places where single people from the world can be baptized into and thrive? Are they places where gifts and talents are being utilized to the fullest? Are they places that embody 1 Corinthians 7:32-35? These are important questions, because if the trends continue, it will not be long before we are ministering to a majority single world. If we do not have spiritually thriving singles ministries, we will soon experience the effects of this trend in the form of empty chairs at church.
The Singles Question
It is time that we look at the singles question seriously. How can we build ministries that uphold the 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 image, while also acknowledging that our churches often have very different access to financial and other church-building resources? There is a lot of great work being done by our brothers and sisters concerning this question, but I ask if we understand the urgency? Let us not look up in 10 years and see a fellowship aging, but not growing. Let us not look up in 20 years and see a fellowship mature, but declining. And let us certainly not look up in 50 years and see our children closing our church buildings altogether. Looking down the road, will your church stand?
The opportunity to reach the growing singles world is far too great! That is why I wrote my book with the rather emphatic title: “ Singles Ministry Can Change the World .”
I have seen just how powerful this ministry can be! I have seen the examples of purpose, passion and power manifesting in acts of faith, generosity, service and the proclamation of the Gospel! I believe that we can have these types of ministries everywhere single disciples live. But we must turn our attention to how we can build up our ministries. How we can uproot the untruths that poison our ministries, and how we can step out on faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit so we can bear witness to the growing single world out there.
This book is a call to restoration for singles ministries. It is a call for singles to embrace the identity and full meaning of singlehood presented in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. It is a call for pioneers from both the single disciples and those who minister and lead singles, to look at new ways to invest in this group, even if the investment is not financial.
The currency we sorely need is faith, and so I leave you to consider the following question: What can God do through your faith ?