THE SINGLE LIFE: Ministry leaders, church members discuss outreach efforts
Never-married, member, Bammel church, Houston
“There should be a place where single adults can come and experience community. At the same time, single Christians have some talents given to them by God that should be utilized by the church body as a whole.
“Our group has done a tremendous job of enfolding ourselves into the church body as a whole. But at the same time we have a presence to welcome singles to ‘do life together’ with other singles. We’re doing well, but we can do better.”
Judy K. Brummett
Never-married, member, former coordinator of Single Servants, Sandstone Drive church, Little Rock, Ark.
“Perhaps congregations do not need more ‘singles ministries.’ After all, we are Christians first and then singles, and we can minister where we are. That is, if accepted by other members of the congregation.
“I believe I am well-accepted at Sandstone and am allowed to minister where I am best-suited. However, that means I am usually working with the married members without even the possibility of meeting other singles.
“Singles in a church without a way of meeting other Christian singles tend to put the single person in a never-ending loop. The best answer is not a singles ministry by congregations but an areawide singles group. Further, there could be some type of meeting at the national level.”
Never-married, member, Christian counselor, Claude, Texas, church
“I have often been asked by leaders of the church why I am not married. The pressure is there, and it cannot be denied.
“Being single may be a transitional time for some, but it also can be a wonderful time in a person’s life to have the opportunities to minister to others and spend quality time with others that God intended for us to have.
“I don’t think singles ministry is always fully embraced because along with a ministry needs to be a plan. It can sometimes be a weak ministry in that it is produced off of the feelings of loneliness or a sense of not belonging in the church setting.
“Often times singles ministries turn into more of support groups, and the plan is not there for growth. All types of ministries, in my opinion, need to have a bigger focus as to what is beneficial for the whole body.”
Never-married, evangelist, Austin Street church, Levelland, Texas
“I think the singles ministry concept held a lot of folks back. They saw themselves as a demographic that needed to be served instead of vital part of the body which needed to be engaged in ministry for itself. Of course, I think a lot of our ‘ministries’ do that.
“At Austin Street, we are trying to place people into service based on talent and need rather than demographic.
“Being single didn’t seem to affect my growth in the church at all. Of course, there were, and still are, many older married women with nieces they want me to meet, but I can still run faster than they can. Especially when I’m scared!”
Single, youth minister, Northtown church, Milwaukee
“I feel like the church could always improve in this area. In my personal experience, I feel like singles get overlooked or are kind of their own clique, separated from the church.
“It seems like there’s no real break between teens and adults. What I mean by that is the college-aged group in lots of churches doesn’t seem to exist, and so, once they graduate from high school, they must either attend the adult class or look elsewhere for a singles group they can connect with.”
Young adult minister, Gateway church, Pensacola, Fla.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard church leaders, in reference to my group here at Gateway, tell me how much they wish they had something for their young singles at their church. My response to them is, ‘Well, why don’t you?’
“The reasons vary: 1. No money in the budget. 2. Lack of interest (apathy) either from church leadership or the singles themselves, depending on the age. 3. The young singles have already left (catch 22 if you know what I mean). 4. The concept of hiring a minister is foreign to them (and oftentimes deemed as too progressive). 5. Fear of college-age kids and the challenge that type of ministry brings. 6. Lack of an open-minded mentality toward singles ministry. 7. Stigmas associated with singles.
“The list goes on.”
Cheryl Mann Bacon
Divorced, member, University church, Abilene, Texas
“I am relieved that UCC doesn’t have a singles ministry. It would be a good thing for the post-college crowd, but I find myself pretty comfortable most of the time in a Sunday school class that has one or two other single women in their 50s.
“The small group I go to on Sunday night is all couples plus me. None of them seem to mind, and usually I don’t either. I love our class.”
Widowed, singles ministry leader, San Jose church, Jacksonville, Fla.
“All the classes seem to be geared toward the couple in parenting, and of course, marriage enrichment is for the married, or those close to getting married. We have had three single women leave the church since I have been there because they feel left out.
“I am a rarity, being a widower with kids, and under 50. That being said, I have ‘friends’ at church, but most don’t know how to deal with me, and I have felt like leaving more than once.”