DTS Magazine

The Church and Singles: Some Advice from DTS Grads

Some DTS grads told KS what their congregations have done right and offered some suggestions for better integrating single people into church life.   

  • “Greet me and sit with me in church. Or invite me to sit with you.” “Often the worship service is the loneliest hour of the week for me.”
  • Believe that everyone belongs. The church, not the home, is the true family of God. “Jesus lived as a single person in a culture in which marriage and children were viewed as favor from God—even much more than in our culture. I would imagine he may have been scorned and judged, even though he related well to women. It’s a comfort to think that family boundaries won’t be an issue in heaven, that we will be one family, and people won’t be classified by who they belong to, because we will all belong to Christ.”
  • Consider hiring single ministers for pastoral positions, and honor their choices. “Once at a meeting, an elder asked me, a pastor, ‘When are you going to hurry up and get married?’ Before I could stop stammering long enough to answer, the senior pastor intervened with assurance that marriage is not for everyone and that it was certainly not a qualification for ministry.”
  • “Refer to us as ‘single,’ not as ‘unmarried.’ The former emphasizes what we are instead of what we are not.”
  • Single people don’t necessarily have someone in their lives who will ask about their day. “Make random contact to ask how my day is going.”
  • Remember our birthdays and celebrate them. If you don’t, perhaps no one will. “Typically I don’t do anything for my birthday. But it’s nice when someone gathers some friends for me.”
  • Being alone on special days can be difficult, especially if we have no family living nearby. “Text me on the holidays and ask how I am.” “One family had me over for a fancy dinner on Valentine’s Day. That meant a lot.”
  • Expect our focus to differ from that of married people. “While my friends—both male and female—with children focus a lot on their family’s development, I focus more on my career growth. Work is what consumes most of my time.”
  • Help single congregants connect with resumé resources, jobs, and roommates. “Work is often a bigger percentage of our lives than for married people.”
  • When speaking publicly about work, include both women and men in your examples and images.
  • “Don’t ask if we’re married, seeing anyone, have tried eHarmony, or are interested in anyone. Never ask a question that is more personal or intimate than what you would ask a married person” (e.g., “Do you want more kids?”).
  • Recognize that not all men and women desire to marry and/or reproduce. “When people ask, ‘Are you married?’ and I say, ‘no,’ they often follow my answer with, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ Even if I longed to be married, I wouldn’t want pity.”
  • “Bring me food and pick up my medicine for me when I’m sick.” “I was once down for three days with a stomach bug, and I had no one whom I could call to get me basic supplies.”
  • Give single parents a break, both from childcare and from cooking. When you cook, make extra helpings. “It’s rare to get gifts of food unexpectedly. I have no one I can call to ask, ‘Can you grab me some dinner on the way home?’”
  • Let single parents know you’re available to pick up their kids if they get caught in traffic or stuck at work, and offer to take their children with you to church events such as AWANA.
  • Don’t speculate about same-sex attraction. “My own mom asked if I was gay!”
  • Avoid asking, “Don’t you want to get married?” or saying, “You know, your biological clock is ticking. Better hurry up.”
  • Plan social events that are not hookup opportunities. “Consider organizing dinners and movie nights—not just singles events. Make sure all are invited.”
  • Parents, instead of saying to your kids, “When you get married . . .” say, “If you get married. . . .”
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