Upon looking at a list of the members of my church family a few months ago I was very surprised to notice the large number of single people, mostly women. I guess I hadn’t really thought about the single people who, unlike me, have been married before and for various reasons are now single.
I began to wonder how many other people in today’s church communities are unaware of the number of single members in their churches.
Remember, however, that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles 1:9b)… In Acts 6:1 we see complaints to the disciples because “their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” (NIV) The only single women we really hear about in the Bible are unmarried daughters and widows–the daughters lived under the protection of their family but the widows lived on the compassion of their community. So to be sure that each person’s needs were met, the early church looked for those “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” to care for them (Acts 6:3).
What can we take away from this? Our church communities need to firstly recognize that there are singles in the church that need our support. Secondly, I think we have to be open to the Spirit’s leading about how to go about addressing the needs of this group. Every church family will likely have a slightly different way of ministering to their unique group of singles, so I’m not going to make any specific suggestions at this point.
I will, however, make a suggestion as to what NOT to do.
In my life I have gone to a grand total of one singles event. It was not pleasant. There was no sense of encouragement or support. It felt quite uncomfortable, like a meat market with live animals milling around to be auctioned for sale. No, seriously, this is how I felt!
I think, personally, that if you can avoid the meat market effect you will be able to minister more effectively to more people! A suggestion to avoid this is to have separate mens and womens groups. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have combined events with all your singles together, but I would encourage the separated groups because single women will get more support and encouragement from single women, and single men from men. Remember, we will multiply our efforts if we can get the people within the group to minister to eachother.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:24, 25.