What do women want? Would anyone dare say a man? Even if it is mostly true? Not just ANY man, of course, but I believe the majority of single gals I know would much like to be in a loving relationship with a husband, whether they are never-before-married, widowed or divorced. Keep in mind that I did not say ALL women want to be married, but many do. And I am not sure why this has become so taboo to say out loud. It’s silly to downplay the desire of grown humans who want to create families. This isn’t old school, it’s Old Testament!
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
I know of several young, single, educated, career women who would love to find someone to marry, but their reports are dismal. They go on many first dates but that’s about it. Or they receive plenty of text messages but no dinner invites.
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One bold author, Susan Patton, unapologetically states that women must spend 75% of their time in college snagging a husband because at no other time in her life will she have as deep of a pool of men to choose from while in her best form. Her point is that a career can wait, but childbearing cannot. Truth is that most women have personal goals that include creating a home for their someday family, which is mostly time sensitive. And I have to say that Ms. Patton makes perfect sense.
Why is this worth talking about? Singles ministries in church, or the lack thereof – Churches should strongly consider offering a singles ministry that will encourage and facilitate singles to marriage. THERE, I said it.
As I have listened to my girlfriends and their friends, what I am hearing is that many of the men they meet are not interested in getting married. And why would they when there are a multitude of women too available to them on every social dating network?
But this is not only a problem for women, so listen up, it’s a problem for the church. People who live together or are engaged in pre-marital sex are less likely to serve in the church. According to the Table for One Ministries almost a quarter of your church is single, and your community is over 40% single. An engaged and healthy singles ministry is a great door to invite people through.
I’ve also seen this over and over again where kids who fall away from attending church while in college, come right back after marriage. I did it, I’ve seen one of my kids do it, and many others. Something about marriage and raising a family calls many couples back to God’s house.
It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, a holiday that many women dread based upon their single status, so this topic is weighing heavily on my mind. It makes me want to start match-making, but I’ll refrain and focus on this – how can churches encourage and facilitate singles to marriage:
- Invest in building a solid and engaging singles ministry that values singles. I highly recommend having a staff position for specializing in this ministry.
- Create ministry opportunities for serving where men and women can serve together and get to better know one another.
- Offer various bible studies, webinars about the purpose of marriage, finances, parenting, as well as a multitude of other biblical topics.
- Find ways to do subgroups at times like a professional networking night for the career-oriented, a 5k group participation for the health conscience singles or a camping trip for the outdoorsy types.
- Find couples who can be available for modeling and mentoring singles about the married life.
- Encourage singles to serve in various church ministries like Vacation Bible School and outreach initiatives.
- Remember that Singles Ministry is not only made up of the 20-somethings. Be prepared to minister to congregants in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
- Prepare for advocacy. Single moms may need help with childcare or home repairs. This is a very real need within the church.
- Be aware of men whom are only interacting with your singles ministry to take advantage of the women of this group. Also, another area where I have seen many heartbroken women from the Singles Ministry is men who don’t mind dating the divorced women of that group, but have not plans on marrying them. Dating or courting should be to decide if the end goal will be marriage. Men who already have a conviction to not marry a divorced woman should not pursue or even date a divorced woman.
- Be respectful of the singles in this ministry; single adults are more than capable of choosing their own mates. Although there is nothing wrong with making recommendations, it should be God-led on your part. In contrast, I’ve known more than one divorced woman who purposely waited until their daughters left for college before they remarried so no need to pressure people.
You may not know this about me, but after my divorce, I attended a nearby mega church and joined their singles ministry, and it was so much fun! It started with me attending one of their divorce recovery workshops. I made new girlfriends who were walking the same journey as I was and enjoyed attending church with them. A year later, I met my husband-to-be at a wedding of one of these girlfriends. So, I have personally experienced and witnessed the pros and cons of a singles ministry.
My ideal picture of Singles Ministry is one that is building meaningful connections within the singles’ relationships while serving them in spiritual growth. In 1 Corinthian chapter 7, Paul does say that it is better to be single so that you can better serve God BUT if you have a bunch of people enjoying singles ministry; yet, they are not interested in marriage or actively serving the church, then your singles ministry is only entertaining them.
No doubt Singles Ministry is very complex and not for the faint of heart, but considering the number of singles within the church and community, it is a heart-loving and Great Commission pursuit on behalf of Christ.