A New Question for Singles

09.16.09 | Debbie Fero | Comments[23]

I recently read an email article from Crosswalk Singles. It was a part of their He Said/She Said forum. A question was sent in and then two answers were given. One from a male perspective and the other from a female. The topic - how can the church minister to singles? As the leader of the SALSA (Salt & Light Single Adults) ministry, I often ask a similar question. How can SALSA do better meet the needs of single adults?

In this article, the person asked the question, "Why does it seem most churches focus so much on married couples?" and then made this statement, "Sometimes I think if you're not married, you really do not fit in. This makes me think that is why so many single people go to bars to find love. It is hard being a Christian single; you're lonely but where are the singles there ... not in church because the church seems to just cater to the married couples." Then ended with this question, "So how can the churches reach out to everyone, not just married couples?"

Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades, was the "he" who responded. He broke his answer down into two parts:

"So what can a church do?

• A church can encourage its membership to include (not just use) singles of every type in all of their activities.

• A church can encourage its members to lead, encourage and mentor singles--spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

• A church can encourage and provide resources for singles to create an atmosphere where they can grow in the Word, share common desires, and meet their needs.

• A church can provide leadership and guidance that challenges singles to take part in opportunities to serve in the church and to serve others, rather than self-serving.

What can we (singles) do?

• We can participate in more activities in the church, not just those geared towards singles or where only singles are involved.

• We can share our struggles, triumphs, experiences and lives with others in the church (and seek counsel when needed).

• We can take responsibility to organize our own activities and create opportunities for singles to gather.

• We can utilize our time to serve and minister to others.

• We can step out of our own comfort zone."

 Then he summarized by saying this, "The church is ultimately not responsible for fulfilling all of our needs. We are the church. We each need to take responsibility for ourselves for what we want and desire. If you see a need, fill it."

Then Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com's Senior Entertainment Editor, responded: "So the question may not be, 'What can my church do for singles?' (because it's probably not going to change up all its programs or ministries tomorrow to meet the diverse needs of singles who are here today), but more so 'what can I do for my church?'" She concludes with this statement, "There have been many, many times when I have felt like no one was helping me or I had been given the short end of the relationship stick or that 'the world was against me' or that married people just don't understand. Believe me. And then an opportunity was presented for me to reach out and do something for someone else. First, I grumbled internally and wrestled with God. And then finally, I gave up and submitted and did what God was asking of me. And every time--every time--I was richly blessed. I don't know how God does that, but he does."

There's no doubt that singles need a place to belong. God created us with a need for relationships. As a single adult, that need began to be filled when I stepped out of my comfort zone. I stepped out and went to my first SALSA Conference in January of 2000 where I began my personal relationship with another single adult, Jesus Christ. Since then, I've stepped out of that comfort zone many times including taking the leap to a career in full-time ministry where I oversee Family Life's SALSA Ministry.

As Cliff states, WE are the church. If you're single, maybe it's time to  ask yourself a new question. Maybe it's time to step out of your comfort zone.

What do you think?



Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 09.15.09 Melanie commented

I agree and can relate to all that was said in the above article. I have been single most of my adult life. Singles are a special group in that they have a more flexible schedule and are able to fulfill ministry areas that others cannot. However we also have different needs from those that have an immediate family unit with both mother and father. God did say "it is not good for man to be alone." I have struggled with this greatly as I also do not have any children of my own. Personnally, I desire my home church to encourage networking for singles to connect with one another for accountability, building up, teaching and loving. SALSA is a good start but the events are not close enough for me to travel to. So I am praying that churches in my city will awaken to this ministry. Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion and heart on this topic.

on 09.15.09 becky in wellsville, ny commented

I relate to this article. I go to a church that is very few singles and they don't seem to have much to get us together. I don't live close to the SALSA activites and I am new in town. I grew up here but i am very new. I would love to meet christian singles to hang out with but don't know where or how to meet them in my area.

on 09.15.09 Debbie Fero commented

Melanie & Becky,
Thanks for your comments. I agree that SALSA cannot meet the needs of all singles in the FLN listening area. One way we can help is to come alongside the churches and existing singles ministries to help them minister to the singles in each community. We've done some of that but we can do better. Keep in touch!

on 09.16.09 Anonymous commented

I agree with most of the above article,but want to add a little. I have been single all of my adult life, but have a child. I have reconciled that with God, but still feel looked down upon by many Christians. I was even used as an "example" in a previous church as what God does not want us to do sexually. I agree,but as I said I have asked God's forgiveness and that really hurt. My daughter is a special part of my life and I believe that God gave her to me. But being a single with a child, complicates many relationships, not just dating ones. I also have attended the SALSA conferences and they are great!Keep up the good work! I just wanted to put out another side as I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation.

on 09.16.09 Debbie Fero commented

Sounds like you are one more example that God does indeed work all things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It's just like the Father to take the junk in our lives and make it beautiful! Keep your eyes on Him and He will take those complicated things and make them simple.
Hope to see you at next year's conference!

on 09.16.09 jackie commented

I have been in several churches and know the feeling of being the odd one out. I have been single going on 10 years now. It is especially noticeable when I go to a church dinner and I look to see what table to sit at---all the table are taken with mom and dad and children--families together. My children are with their dad so it's like where do i sit? However I agree with the statement that we ourselves as responsible adults can take the initiative to get involved. I just started going to a new church and already got a chance to be on the worship team, I want to get involved with the woman's bible study, then I also submitted my name to mentor a new woman believer in Christ. I have also connected with another single woman to befriend and sit with in church. I am also helping support another woman whose husband just moved out. I have been to the SALSA events and conferences which helped me tremendously grow closer to the Lord. These are ways that we can be active and involved ourselves. We all go through our own piece of "hell" and it's God's purpose that we reach out to others to help them. Thank You for the chance to share. Forever in Christ Jesus, Jackie

on 09.16.09 Debbie Fero commented

I applaud you for taking that step out of your comfort zone and getting involved in your new church. It's so easy to focus on what is missing in our lives and it blinds us to the needs of others. Sounds like with God's help, you are making beauty out of ashes. Keep on keeping on!

on 09.16.09 Debbie from Cortland commented

Great article! I agree with most of it, but do think sometimes the focus is on what Singles can do for the church. (especially those with no children) I do however, agree we all need to do our part of the church and make ourselves available to be used.

Like Jackie, I too have felt uncomfortable while sitting at a church dinner. Being the single childless one, puts you in a small segment of the church's population. Jackie, try and talk someone into going with you that sunday. Makes it easier to fit in and feel comfortable.

Something we could all do is make sure this sunday to say Hello to someone who is not just like me. So Married folks seek out a single to say Hi too! and Singles seek out a married person to Greet! God bless us one and all <><

on 09.16.09 Brian G. commented

For me this is a timely topic for and one that I am currently wrestling with. God certainly made us with the desire for and the need of intimate companionship and personal fellowship. It is not hard to draw parallels between the gift of the marriage relationship between a man and woman (commitment, devotion, selfless and unconditional love, self-sacrifice, maturity, emotional bonding, growth, rearing of children etc.) to the relationship God seeks to have with ALL of us, whether we be married or not.

In Matthew 19, Jesus teaches in so many words, that some will not marry because God made them that way, others because men made them that way and others because they choose so intentionally. This is a somewhat cold comfort though, for someone who is seeking marriage and not finding it. And even more so for a guy like me who happens to be thin, small and short. A decade ago, I could use my maternal and natural gifting with children and take kids from single-mom households under my wing. And I have the joy of knowing I made a real difference in these kid’s lives. Today though, with the fear people live in, this has become nearly impossible, as middle-aged single men are often seen as potential child abusers… something single women might not have to deal with.

Many major university studies have concluded that small men comprise the largest group of unmarried, childless men in the world. They also get overlooked in many other ways, such as being taken seriously, job opportunities, advancements, salaries, etc. On that thought, being childless, I’d love to work in daycare. With so many kids today growing up without dad’s, one might think there would be a real opportunity there to serve and be of real use. Yet most daycare facilities won’t touch a guy like me with a ten-foot pole.

So while it is very easy for me to fall into the deep hole of self-pity, I am also reminded in scripture that men look at outward appearances BUT God sees the heart.

Often those chosen and used by God were not attractive people by any worldly standards. For example, we know from ancient Roman documents that Paul was short and far from attractive, yet was used powerfully by God. And despite popular artistic renderings through the centuries, we can assume that Jesus as a man was most likely NOT tall, handsome and muscular, but short, thin and not attractive. From the book of Isaiah: “nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Again, God sees from the inside, not the outside like men.

I also find it interesting when you notice that in the Gospels of the New Testament, that Jesus took a preference to being close friends with people who were single. So that’s a thought of comfort.

The thing I notice as I write this though is that the thoughts are mostly on me. Formed from my viewpoint, personal experiences and the worldly things I have read. The scriptures remind me though that MY ways, my will and my thoughts are not like God’s. So the challenge is to get my own thoughts and desires more like God’s. Not unlike being married, where one is gradually getting to know the other person you have chosen for life, we can also spend our entire lives getting to really know God… and learning how to please and love Him.

And while being single certainly has drawbacks, one can safely conclude from looking at the national divorce rates, that being married isn’t easy either. Obviously there was a real need for a move like “Fireproof” or it wouldn’t have been made in the first place.

I sometimes joke with friends that I am a survivor of Iwo Jima… my own private Iwo Jima. That is, my own battle with being single. Fighting a well armed, well entrenched enemy who would love to see me fail, stay miserable, and depressed and to never fulfill God’s purpose for me. It’s taken me a long time, but am slowly trying to see the possibilities for me to serve God’s purpose as a single person. Maybe it is simply the effort of writing and sharing this. I may not be in the majority, but I am certainly not alone in this.

on 09.17.09 Debbie Fero commented

Debbie (from Cortland),
I like your challenge. Let's all say "hello" to someone this Sunday!

Thanks for sharing. I can tell that this blog definitely hit a cord with a lot of people. Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. I've also found that He can change those desires as well.

on 09.17.09 Young Single Adult commented

Relatively new to the adult world and the single world I think the issues with the church and singleness will always be there. Having several single friends it becomes discouraging to look at those who are later on in their adulthood who are still single and do not seem content with it. It makes me wonder are we meant to be alone? All we have to do is look at Genesis and see that it is not, but yet so many of us are.
Unfortuantly I feel that many of us single people get our focus wrong, which i do all of the time and I am as much in the wrong as the next, and we tend to focus on "when God will I meet the right person or why I am still single"? Instead of God how can I use my singleness for you in a way that I couldn't if I were married? As humans made for relationships it is easier to focus on being single and alone than the one true God.
I find for me when I am most depressed about being single is when I am least focused on God. So as an encouragement to all of us struggling in this world full of couples, Go to Christ ask Him what you can do for Him today instead of what the church or He can do for you.

on 09.24.09 Patti McIntosh commented

I wish FLN would provide a web page for singles to communicate with each other. It's really hard being single these days.
My church has no singles ministry at all. I think ideally every church should have a ministry for the singles in their church. I think that often couples don't consider how lonely being single can be.
I was saved out of the bar scene and used to be very social. Now I spend way too much time alone and would love to meet someone. I think especially for people who are divorced there has to be some kind of dating, but not the world's version. For people who are looking to remarry I think courting sounds great but one still needs to actually meet someone to do this.
Please consider my idea.
God Bless you all

on 09.24.09 Heather M commented

I think a web page for singles to communicate would be great! It would give us an opportunity to build each other up especially for those who don't live close to events such as myself. I am a single mom with two teenage daughters and I also can feel isolated where the church is more focused on married families.I would love to have a chance to talk with others in a similiar situation.

on 09.24.09 Debbie Fero commented

Patti & Heather,
Thanks for your comments.
Ladies, if there is not a singles ministry in your church, perhaps there is one nearby. Have you checked out the "Other Singles Group Calendar" on the SALSA page? It's a calendar of events that are hosted by singles groups throughout the FLN listening area.
Hmmmm, a web page for singles to connect. It's true, we all want to connect with people with whom we share a common bond. Myself, I think it is important to connect face to face. Reading body language is important. A person can hide so much when you're communicating behind a computer screen. What about a Facebook page where singles can connect with each other and communicate if there is a group getting together. I'd love to hear from others. What are your thoughts?

on 09.24.09 Patti commented

Thanks for your comment.
I already looked and there is only a mailing list..................
I really like the idea of something connected to FNL as then participants would know that others there are also people who listen to FNL. Face to face can be arranged from there. Before I swore off dating sites I generally asked for a in public face to face promptly for the same reasons you list. You don't really know who this person is until you meet in person.
I think facebook can be too public.
So Debbie if you like the idea could this actually happen?

on 09.25.09 Patti commented

On second thought if someone did start a group for Christian singles on facebook I would try it out. I did find that there is a setting that makes your page private to those who are not on your friends list.
This could be very helpful to those of us who don't live close enough to SALSA activities.
p.s. In above comment what I meant is that in my area there is no group, just a mailing list, to clarify.
I would love to hear what others think.

on 09.25.09 Anonymous commented

I heard Chip Ingram say once that attention to needs of singles was one of the most ignored areas of the church. But since WE are ALL the church, maybe it is up to us. God gives us all circumstances, gifts and abilities. It takes work and effort, but maybe some of us need to start some kind of program in our own individual churches, even if it nothing more than a casual get-together for coffee after Sunday worship. Maybe an announcement in the newspaper or in the bulletins of several churches, that someone is starting a get together that will meet at this public place at a set time every Sunday. Just an idea, because after all, WE are the church.

As I grow in the faith, I understand why God has laid out His rules for our lives. The culture says "oh those rules are so limiting" but as any parent with children knows, rules and guildlines are more for the benefit of the child than anything else. I'm not suggesting God will not forgive us for our mistakes (if we ask and repent), but those mistakes can add weighty complications to anyone's life, whether married or single.

Being single myself, I see this more clearly. Even the word "single" gets blurred and misrepresented. Single is single ie: never married, not divorced and not widowed. Divorced and widowed are different from single, yet today they all seem to be the same thing.

When I was active on dating websites, I would ask "why do you say you are single when in fact you are divorced?" Most times the answer was something like "I get more responses from saying I'm single versus saying I'm divorced" or "saying I'm divorced has a more negative meaning than saying I'm single." Not to be legalistic, I would often repsond with the following question: how would you like it if I said I was the manager of a restaurant, only to find I was really a dishwasher? They're both employment and both in a resturant, so aren't they the same?

As much as being "single" is a challenge for anyone, it is also a challenge for any organization trying to serve the needs of singles, when the fact is that "being single" has so many different meanings today... and different needs.

From my own experience, being single and wanting children is different from being single because you were once married and already have children. It's not just winning over the heart of one person that you've met, but the hearts of the kids too. Someone who already has children also might not have the same desire to have more than someone who has never had any. I can tell you, this makes meeting someone even more difficult.

Even on some of the Christian dating websites, I've seen people with screen names to the likes of "Hot Lady" or "Sexy Mama." My reaction to that is that I can figure that out for myself if that be the case... I don't have to be told. And I'd rather have substance anyways... "Seeking God's Blessings For Me" will grab my attention more - but I guess I'm different.

And I am different. As Debbie said, "Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. I've also found that He can change those desires as well." For me, that was a

on 09.25.09 Brian G. commented

(I accidentally messed up and sent the above too soon). I was going to finish that my desires have been being changed. I've come to understand that "marriage" is not only God's gift to us, but His model for the relationship He wants to have with us. I'm going for that instead!!

Maybe God has given me opportunities I've been too blind to see, or wasn't ready for. And I accept that. No person is ever going to fill the space in my heart where God wants to be. And since Paul said we all have different parts in the body of Christ, this may just be the exact place where God wants me to be.

It's not easy, but changing my focus has really changed the way I see things.

on 09.25.09 Debbie Fero commented

I like the point you make in the first paragraph and if some of you singles out there get together and get something started. I would love to hear from you. Let's talk and see if there is a way that SALSA can help you minister to the singles in your community.
I'm not sure if I agree with your point about single being only people who are never married. When the U.S. Census Bureau cites statistics on the number of singles adults in the country, they include those never married, those divorced, and widowed. What I do agree with is that the group is a hugely diverse group with very different needs and experiences. That is one of the reasons why "doing" singles ministry is so difficult. You can't always use a "one size fits all" approach.
Great comments!

on 10.22.09 Bob Davis commented

I was divorced recently and found it difficult to find a 'divorce recovery' class. So I bought the CD's and started my own. It was a tremendous help. Since then I have moved and was able to attend a class led by someone else. As a result I now have several friends who are also divorced.

Churches really need to do something for single adults. When I was married I never saw all of the hurting singles. Now I see them all the time. Basically married people do not even know we exist.

on 11.11.09 Crystal Jacquez commented

San Francisco, CA

50 Million Americans Can’t Be Wrong – Or Can They?

Advertising materials from some of the largest online dating services – Match, eHarmony, True.com and Yahoo Personals – suggest that over 50 million Americans are now using such services.

Internet dating has been portrayed mostly with "success stories", because many of those who have had bad experiences are too embarrassed to talk about them openly, thinking they are the rarity, or the "unlucky one". Movies and T.V. have also focused on the lighter side of internet dating and dating websites as opposed to the darker side.

Unfortunately, the online search for true love has often led to a broken heart and a depleted bank account.

The dark side of the story is that the anonymity of internet dating has afforded con artists a new playground for scams, and has allowed people to be anyone they think you want them to be.

Both women and men lie on dating sites, but about different things. According to a recent study conducted jointly by researchers for the University of Chicago and MIT, women on dating sites lie mostly about heights, weights, and ages. Women appear to understate their weight more and more as they get older: by five pounds when they are in their 20’s, 17 pounds in their 30’s and 19 pounds in their 40’s.

Men also lie about their heights, weights and ages – but, more insidiously, their lying is concentrated on their marital status (“Who me? Married!?), their occupations (Oh yes – I’m a famous brain surgeon…), their educations, and their incomes.

Why do men lie about more things than women do? Because it pays off for them – big time! Take education: The study indicates that men reporting a college degree, relative to those reporting only a high school degree, is associated with a 35% increase in the number of first contacts they receive from women.

Occupations? Holding everything else constant, the biggest improvement in outcomes is observed for men in legal professions (77% outcome premium), followed by the military (49%), fire fighters (45%), and health related professions (42%). Manufacturing jobs, on the other hand, are associated with an about 10% penalty.

And finally, the effects of reported income on the success of men online: While there is no apparent effect for anything below an annual income of $50,000, outcomes begin to quickly improve for income levels above $50,000. Above $50,000, the increase in the expected number of first contacts is at least 32%, and as large as 156% for incomes in excess of $250,000.

Does it pay for women to lie online about education, occupation, or income? Apparently not - women’s education, occupations, and income apparently have little effect on their online success.

So what’s a poor girl to do about getting the truth about a guy she’s met online? Until recently, other than perhaps a quick Googling of the guy’s name (and Google was never designed for deep personal back-grounding), nothing. Nothing, that is, until the advent of Guys and Lies.com.

The new Guys That Lie site (www.guysthatlie.com) is essentially an online lie detector designed for women looking to check out men they’ve met online.

According to Crystal Jacquez, managing editor of Guys That Lie , the site enables women to query any of 32 highly personal questions about a guy that she may want to have answered – First she clicks on the question she wants answered - then she types in his name – then she clicks again and gets the real story, instantly! Covered are such basic questions as marital status, age, occupation, education, financial status, criminal background records, and much more.

Where does all this information come from?

“Well, if the guy has ever paid taxes,” says Jacquez, “state, local, or federal – or If he’s ever paid a gas or electric bill, or a telephone or cell phone bill, or a cable bill. If he’s ever owned property, including a home or condo. if he’s ever used a credit card or even applied for credit, or ever brought anything on credit, if he’s ever sued anybody or been sued, we know about him.”

“In short,” she continues, “we have in-depth information on this guy unless he’s recently moved here from another galaxy – or – unless he’s operating under you a phony name. Actually, if he’s operating under a phony name, we have a section that will expose him. The “galaxy” part we’re still working on.”

“And one more thing, Guys That Lie.com,” according to Jacquez, “is apparently also being widely used to check out friends and relations, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, in-laws, teachers, enemies, people in the news, whoever… Who knew?”

Crystal Jacquez, managing editor
Guys That Lie.com
415 678-8610


on 12.28.09 Kathleen commented

In response to comments by Brian G. - Living an uncompromising Christian life as a single can be a real challenge in many ways whatever your battle may be. I wanted to share this encouraging quote from Max Lucado's book Traveling Light..."You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you....you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need." God bless.

on 12.30.09 Lois commented

I find that most churches do not have ministries for single adults. What I see in my church: youth and teen programs and couples programs. Nothing for the young adult or singles. What I also see are the single adults being used all the time as servants for these programs.