How Are Singles Groups Doing?

 

In last week’s Boundless e-newsletter, I asked readers to give us their impressions of their singles groups. How are they doing a great job? How could they do better?

Some 50 of you sent me your stories. Thank you! Some of you told me about the cool things your church offers for singles. Others provided suggestions on how they might improve their singles ministry.

Here are some excerpts:

During bible studies and worship services for this age group, it would be great if we sometimes focused on issues that apply specifically to us (and are often neglected during “regular” church services) like being marriage-ready, and how to start and maintain a godly relationship, and what it means to have God at the center of a relationship.

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I think it would be very helpful for singles to be purposely included in groups with married people, whether it’s small groups, Sunday school, or whatever form it takes in a particular church. At one church I visited for a couple of months, I became very frustrated by the isolation of the singles, which seemed to contribute to a complete disconnection from the realities of normal family life and relating to other people. Family life forces reality on individuals, and when we singles can escape that reality, we often do–to our own detriment.

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Once a month people from all small groups come together for organized worship and a short Word; and afterwards fellowship and food. We’ve found a way to combine the small groups through the church, giving opportunity for all the ages, races, sexes, married, and unmarried to interact.

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I hear all the time that this is a time in my life where God wants to use me for his service. So I get called on to do a lot of volunteering, which most of the time is fine. I don’t mind. But after years of serving meals at the couples banquet, asked to baby-sit for some function, which I would like to attend, it sometimes gets old.

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I am invited to someone’s home every week. The members of the church call regularly to include me in activities such as plays and concerts with their families. I have been enveloped in love…. It doesn’t take much to reach out to us. We’re single, often lonely, and sometimes far away from our families. We don’t need special programs and events, as nice as those things are. We just want love, a safe place to go and be part of a family. You’d be surprised what kind of difference that makes in someone’s life.

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There are only a few college students who attend the church I go to while at Penn State. The church’s focus is on young families & children — not college students or singles. There aren’t any singles/college groups even though there is a campus of over 40,000 students a mile away. This I think is extremely sad since college aged people are still impressionable.

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What my college/singles group ( in Allen TX) does great is NOT focusing on the fact that we are single! Each week we have prayer time at our Bible study to pray for OTHER people, in OTHER countries, and in our community.

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I honestly wish my church would think about building an improv theatre, coffee house and then hiring some folks with the gift of hosting to run it. This would appeal to singles…. If you don’t think their are lots of lonely singles out there, check out the chat rooms and message boards at single sites. They are active every evening, 7 days a week. Folks go their to just have someone to talk to. I think if many of those same folks had a safe, friendly and entertaining environment to go to a few nights a week they may just abandon those computers and online friendships in favor of a real world face to face interaction with other singles.

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My group is a wonderful place where we can be true to ourselves and share in community. Where we fail is in teaching singles appropriate male/female relationships during this season. There are too many “buddies” in my group in friendships that are going nowhere. In addition, our church holds couples cafes for married people each month. A singles seminar is held once every 2 years.

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We have our own service on Saturday nights, and our leaders cook us dinner every Saturday night. So through us eating together on a weekly basis, we are getting to fellowship together. Then we have a bible study and P&W. We do various events, really they just try and get us together as much as possible so that we will get to know one another and create friendships…. They have also allowed us to take ownership of the church. I know for many young people it had to feel like you are contributing to the church. We have monthly “work-days” at the church and we meet at the church at 8 am (you try getting college kids up and working by then) and we clean up the grounds, spread mulch, fertilize, paint, or just pick up trash … whatever they need done, they just let us know and we do our part in taking care of the church.

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My singles group is very small. I like it that way – I am able to know the people in my group on a deeper level. However, the focus has most often been on having fun and hanging out. It’s a little like youth group, but not as silly. I like to have fun, but I desire some depth to our community. I feel very alone spiritually. If I could tell the older people in my church anything, I’d like to tell them to raise their expectations for our group. I think that their expectations, vocalized or not, play a large role in what actually occurs in the group, and affects what we as individuals think we can achieve in our walk with the Lord.

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Here in the UK the issue of singleness among Christians is not always considered important, and many churches do not have singles groups. Singles groups that promote godly values are a rare thing here. Please pray for us UK singles and plant some churches here!

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I am a 26 year-old single young lady. My friends and I have noticed a gap in the church. There is college group… then there is the singles group (typically 30’s and beyond) or young marrieds. For singles post-college (23-30ish), we don’t really belong anywhere. This time of starting new jobs and relationships requires community. Often college friends have moved away and it is difficulty to get connected. Of course, the best thing I can do is to get something started rather than just complaining!

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If I had to pick one thing that my church could do better to serve the singles, it would be to have a singles ministry. Where I live, there is not a singles ministry around, not within 50-60 minutes of driving…. I have always thought about starting one, but would have no idea how to start it, what to do, and I would be afraid that I wouldn’t have the time and devotion to do so (mainly afraid that I wouldn’t be successful at it).

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The correct answer then is to have singles in a church social situation or club that promotes dating and moving from the single to the relationship stage!

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One of the best things about being single is being able to serve freely and spontaneously. And it’s so much easier to make meaningful social connections in a setting where there is a common goal — something to do — that even the most artful social event cannot mimic. I would rather pick up a tool and meet people on the basis of accomplishing a goal and living a mission. It’s a great way to be ourselves, not feel self-conscious, and live out God’s calling w/sincere joy.

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Multi-generational family is the other crucial element to singles in church. My church is superb about this, and it’s the reason I became a member: there are hardly any other singles at the church, but I have a sense of belonging because couples invite me out for lunch with them, for dinner in their homes, for a weekend afternoon, or to an evening to sing around the piano. Multi-generational events are the best. I feel like I belong not when I am with peers, who are just like me, but when I am with people who are different from me who are still willing to call me one of their own–that’s God’s grace to a stranger, and I know it’s Biblical.

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The worst thing a church can do is decide that singles only want to be w/each other, and that we’re not interested in eating microwaved meals w/eccentric middle-aged families, giggling teenagers, and spunky elderly folks. Singles are often too transient to maintain roots w/each other, and if we only spend time w/peers, the result can be isolation.

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It really makes me want to go to college group when I know there’s going to be free coffee and bagels every time, without fail. Plus I really connect with the worship music that brings us into the presence of God. The key thing for me is a small group where I’m able to be accountable to other guys, lift them up in prayer … and generally live as a band of brothers. I learn so much from their experiences when it comes to living righteously, figuring out girls … totally a win-win.

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I think one of the most discouraging things is that my church treats protracted singleness like it is not a problem. The times that I have brought up my desire for marriage I have been virtually ignored or told that it will happen in God’s time. In our singles group we never discuss marriage and family. Most of those that attend the study are in their early 20’s and I think most of them think marriage is in the far off future and just do not care about preparing for the future. The church does not think there is a problem to address and leaves those who desire marriage to fend for themselves.

What would you add? How is your singles group doing?

 

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