I love getting feedback from those of you that follow my blog. Recently, I was asked to address the issue of the church, singles, and the focus on love, romance, and marriage this month. I am not single (married for forty years) but I have many single friends in my life and ministry whom I love and respect deeply. So I went to them to ask for their help in writing this post. I rarely think of them as single but do think of them as my sisters in Christ. These women are actively engaged in their churches, in using their gifts in work, writing, and leading ministries.What I really value is having leaders affirm my worth as a woman, regardless of my marital status. Click To Tweet
They were gracious and humbled to offer great advice for ways the church can better serve singles. Here are three things singles need from their church this season and beyond:
1. View us as ministry partners in sharing the gospel.
“I feel like too many single people are on the sidelines of ministry waiting. Waiting to be asked, waiting to be married, waiting for something different before they step into ministry service. I always wanted to be a wife and a mom but that simply hasn’t happened. So I just lived the life God gave me day by day and have tried to take advantage of the opportunities I’ve been given–to spend my time doing missions, investing in the children of my friends, being involved with Bible studies, serving in my church, supporting my pastor, and what God places in my life to do. I don’t always get it right but I have always loved it when people have seen potential in me and called it out. My pastor has always done that for me. He believes in me and encourages me to use my gifts and talents for the sake of expanding God’s Kingdom here on earth.”
“What I really value in the church is having leaders affirm my worth as a woman, regardless of my marital status. I’m thankful to have been in churches where the pastors and their wives, and the leadership in general, embraced me, included me and saw me as a necessary partner in ministry. For me, nothing has been more important than male leadership in particular valuing me and treating me as ‘normal’.”
“It’s not that I want people to deny or dismiss that I am single, but I don’t want people to lead with that. I want to be seen as “normal” and beyond that, valuable and included.”
2. Call us to serve and use our gifts.
“Pastors should equip, encourage, and also cover their single women to serve the body and walk out the blessings of singleness Paul talks about (but don’t preach on them on Valentine’s Day!) in 1 Corinthians 7. We truly do have more time, resources, focus and passion (and far less romantic angst) to serve Jesus and the church. I have a friend who is a single missionary and her Pastor has modeled amazing support and covering for her in that mission for several years. We need and want pastors to do that for us.”
“I’m usually on the mission field on Valentine’s Day (maybe I am trying to avoid all the hype about it here). But I am SO HAPPY to be pouring into precious jungle pastors and their wives on that holiday and not here feeling like I’m missing out on something.”
3. Integrate us into the body of Christ, don’t highlight our singleness.
“My church doesn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day but I know some churches do. One hard thing I think some churches do in trying to make singles feel better can backfire, and that is a special gathering to “love on” or help out the single women in the church with a tea or dinner or other thing just to make them feel special. What it does do is shine a spot light on singleness. Sensitivity is so critical. My gut is women don’t want this (I sure don’t!). They will likely spend Valentine’s like any other week night or with their friends. Less focus on singleness is best!”
“I think single people, especially the ones out of their 20s, are not that interested in being always grouped together at church. We want to be integrated into groups with people who are our age and older. We want a sense of community with our peers who are both married and single.”
“Remember that not everyone is in a “family”. When I was visiting churches when I first moved here, I visited an amazing church with a kind and wonderful pastor. That Sunday the church was introducing a church-wide prayer strategy. The pastor wanted families at the table every morning praying together. All instruction to implement the prayer strategy was built around the family. No mention was made that if you lived alone, how to approach it. That one thing made me not choose this church and I really liked it. It made me feel unseen, not considered. Single people are in your church. Include them.”
I am grateful for these women who shared openly with us personal insight as single women serving faithfully in their churches.
Are there other needs you would add?
“Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:14-17