BreakPoint: One by One

Welcoming Singles into Your Church

Are singles integrated into the life of your church? My BreakPoint colleague Gina Dalfonzo has written a new book to help churches do better with single adults.

My BreakPoint colleague, Gina Dalfonzo, was chatting with a pleasant woman in the ladies’ room at her church. The woman asked Gina, “Do you have any children?”

“No,” Gina replied. “I’m not married.”

There was, Gina says, “a sudden, awkward silence.”

It’s a scenario familiar to many single Christians, as Gina writes in her terrific new book, “One By One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church.”

Many churches today “don’t know what to do with the single and childless,” Gina notes. “While churches offer couples’ weekends to strengthen marriages, and Ultimate Frisbee games for families, many are not able to offer much help, or opportunities for service for the singles in their congregation.”

And sadly, fellow Christians, sometimes unknowingly, make singles feel as if they themselves are to blame for their unmarried state. That somehow if they haven’t tied the knot yet, they must be too self-centered, or too picky, or too focused on their career.

The truth is many singles deeply desire and pray for marriage.

The list of reasons for why they haven’t married are many. Many churches have far more single women than men, and relationship fads have dramatically shifted in the past decade, even resulting in Christian singles being afraid to talk to each other. At the end of the day, Gina says, “so many of us who desire marriage and children simply don’t manage to get there.” Of course, there are those who have been married, but through death or divorce find themselves single again, against their wishes.

So, what should the church do to ensure that singles are every bit as much a part of the life of the church as married folks?

First, we should stop thinking about singles as projects to be “fixed;” but rather as “fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, making the journey through life alongside the rest of the congregation. They’re dealing with a set of circumstances (too). . .” even if different than our own.

Second, we must embrace the fact that not everyone in our congregations is going to marry—and that the New Testament has a high view of the state of singleness. Some of the greatest saints in Heaven never tied the knot, or lived most of their days as singles.

Here are a few suggestions for serving the singles in your congregation: find ways to celebrate career achievements or athletic accomplishments—just as we throw showers for women expecting babies, or for couples marking their 50th anniversary. Invite singles for an after-church meal, even if—Heaven forbid!–it means you’ll have an unequal number of guests.

Another great idea is to make sure singles have resources to get the help they need when the car is in the shop (offer a ride), or when they need a handyman, or help with taxes—things couples usually help each other with.

And here is a crucial point Gina raises: Marrieds and singles need each other. At a book signing party for Gina recently, one attendee remarked that the most loving and supportive small group she’d ever been in had young people, old people, singles, marrieds, folks with kids and no kids. Christ knitted different people with their different gifts and perspectives into a loving community.

And the growing number of singles occupying the pews means an infusion of talent: Invite singles to ministry and leadership roles—teaching, search committees, care committees, etc.

I urge you to grab a copy of “One by One.” Better yet, get one for yourself and another copy for a leader in your church. You’ll gain a better understanding of how unmarried Christians feel when they sit down beside a pew-full of married couples and their kids.

Let’s make sure they don’t feel singled out.

 

“One by One”: Welcoming Singles into Your Church

Get your copy of Gina Dalfonzo’s book “One by One,” available at the online bookstore. It provides some much- needed ideas for encouraging the singles among us and including them in every aspect of our church communities.

Resources

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
  • Gina Dalfonzo | Baker Books Publisher | June 2017
Flying Solo in a Family-Centered Church
  • Joy Beth Smith | Christianity Today | May 25, 2017

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  • Just One Voice

    This is sad, that so many churches and people are like that toward singles. Have married people forgotten how to relate?

    I have to stop and count my blessings again. 5 years ago, while I was yet single, I was attending the same church I do now (fairly large 2500-3,000). They did (and still do) a great job of encouraging small-group attendance, and people at similar stages in life to get together.

    Thinking of 1 Corinthians 12. It paints a wonderful picture of how all Christians are equally part of the body of Christ.

    • Scott

      You are right, that is sad. Also thanks for 1 Corinthians 12!

      I attend a small church and know most of the congregation. Many of the singles in our church are very involved. Although smaller churches tend to function with the all-hands-on-deck mentality! : – )

      You ask the question “Have married people forgotten how to relate?” After having just completed 19 years of parenting (4 more to go), my answer would be yes. As I get older I struggle more and more to relate to my single friends… although I try my best.

      • Just One Voice

        Well that is a very honest and vulnerable answer 🙂 Your transparency is to be admired.

        I try my best, too, to keep singles within my circle of friends. Some of them clearly have values that evolve a little differently over time, but that’s to be expected.

        You’re welcome for the reference!

  • gladys1071

    I have friends that are single. I have no problem relating to single people even though I have been married 20 years. Since we don’t have kids we have the freedom to hang out with single people.

    I think it is sad how the church has idolized marriage and children.

    • Gina Dalfonzo

      The very last thing I want to do, as I wrote in the book, is to give the impression that single people and married people with kids can’t be friends. It’s not always easy, but they can be. And they should be.

      • gladys1071

        I totally agree with you 100%.

        I have a friend that is married with 3 kids, it is VERY hard for me to get together with her, I don’t have kids so i have time to spend with singles or other marrieds, but she has hardly anytime to see me. I try to see her, but she is so busy that i probably see her once a year.

        So she is my friend still, i just hardly see her since she had kids.

        I think once married couples have kids, there priorities change, i know, being married WITHOUT kids and i hardly see my married friends with kids, so i hang out with single people mostly.