10 Things to Know about Singleness in the Church

Single people in the church often face many awkward experiences and are treated as though they aren't complete unless they are seeking marriage. Read the following article to find 10 things to keep in mind regarding singleness in the church!


While churches do a lot of things well, one aspect of ministry that churches seem to struggle with is finding ways to include and value people who are unmarried. A quick Google search reveals that lots of people have lots of thoughts about how to approach singleness in the church. Before you wade into the murky waters of that Google search, here are 10 things to know and remember about being a single person in church:

 

  1. Not every single person is the same. Each individual experiences singleness in their own unique way. Don’t think every person feels similarly about being single—there are as many ways to be single as there are single people.
     
  2. Recognize gifts and talents. Remember that singleness is only a small part of what is going on in someone’s life. People should not be defined or limited by their marital status. Make sure to focus on peoples’ gifts and abilities!
     
  3. Marital status isn’t always the best way to group church members. Groups for singles and married couples have their place in the church, but encourage variety within small groups and Sunday school classes as well.
     
  4. Marriage isn’t always the goal. For a lot of people who are single, being unmarried or not in a relationship is a conscious choice. In sermons and classes, it is not helpful to infer that marriage is the only thing to aspire to, as if someone has “made it” when they get married. While marriage is a beautiful experience, it is not the only experience that can make for a fulfilling life.
     
  5. Avoid treating marriage as the benchmark for maturity and adulthood. Everyone’s journey is different and having a life partner doesn't represent the milestone of maturity or adulthood the same way having a driver's license doesn't make a person a responsible driver.
     
  6. Being single isn’t always sad. Many people are comfortable and happy in their single life. And no, wanting to be single doesn’t always mean that person is afraid of “growing up.” Singleness is not a disease and marriage is not a cure.
     
  7. Don’t pretend loneliness is only a single person issue. Every person experiences loneliness—singleness isn’t the only reason for feeling alone. Because churches sometimes broadcast marriage as a solution to loneliness, when people get into a relationships, feelings of loneliness can hit them even harder.
     
  8. See single people for who they are, not who they could be in marriage. Statements like, “You’ll make a great mother one day” or “Any woman would be lucky to have you as a husband,” come from a kind place, but are actually hurtful phrases. Single people contribute and offer churches, friends, and their families so much right now. Acting like potential is only for marriage can limit someone’s gifts and talents.
     
  9. Sometimes sitting alone at church is a choice. For some people, sitting alone is not a bad thing. If you decide to ask a single person to sit with you in a worship service, try to ask only once and respect whatever answer you receive especially if they are already sitting down. If someone chooses to worship alone, let them.
     
  10. Jesus was single. And for that matter, Paul was too. There is honor in being single just like there is honor in being married, so let us respect and find value in everyone.

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Reflecting on Singleness in the Church

The following reflective questions are based on "10 Things to Know About Singleness in the Church". You can discuss them in a group or reflect on them individually.


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Questions for everyone:

  • How can we find value in every person as they are without treating them as if they are lacking something by being single?
  • In what ways can we create an inclusive environment for single people in the church? What does the church do well in this regard? In what ways could the church improve?

As a person who is single:

  • How can I communicate my needs to the church?
  • How can I be more receptive to people who mean well but who misunderstand?
  • How can I help people be more aware of their assumptions in regards to my marital status?

As a person who is in a relationship or married:

  • How can I be inviting to those who are single without making them feel awkward or uncomfortable? Or without making them feel like they need to change something about themselves?
  • How can I be more transparent in sharing that I still carry a lot of my struggles from singleness in my marriage and/or relationship?

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Post the Facts on Singleness

The following Action provides potential Twitter and Facebook posts for spreading awareness about singleness in the church.


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