By Dennis Franck
There are several issues in a small church that affect ministry to single adults differently than in a large church. Some of these include:
1. Less single adults - Smaller churches will have less single adults than larger churches. For example, a church of 200 may only have 15-25 single adults of any age or type. It would be unwise to try to group all of them together every week in a ministry group. Younger adults in their 20s and 30s would soon leave after seeing people their parents and grandparents age! Different interests, physical abilities, and social desires due to different life stages would be apparent. Leaders in a small church need to decide which age group (18-25, 18-35, 30 +), or need group (single parent families, divorce care, widowed) they will target. A small church may only effectively reach one age group, unless it joins with at least one other church to co-sponsor the ministry.
2. Co-sponsoring a ministry. The day of the “lone ranger ministry” is over! Even a large single adult ministry needs to network with other ministries for expanding their vision, fellowship and large events. Small churches, especially in small towns, should consider joining together to sponsor an area-wide ministry to single adults. This will give a larger pool of adults to draw from to support the ministry. This breeds success, since single adults want to meet other single adults. Leaders may want to decide to host the regular weekly group at a neutral location, somewhere besides any of the church buildings. See chapter six of Reaching Single Adults-An Essential Guide for Ministry for other ideas.
When considering co-sponsorship, elements to resolve include:
• Finances - Issues regarding income, expenses, offerings, checking accounts etc will need to be resolved.
• Meeting days/times - Avoid days and times which conflict with major services/events of any of the sponsoring churches.
• Doctrine - Even though leaders of single adult ministries do not usually teach doctrine, pastors will want to have commonalities in this area.
• Promotion of sponsoring churches - Pastors may want to agree on how and when each church will be promoted.
• Leadership team - It would be wise, as much as possible, to have approximately equal numbers of individuals from each church on the leadership team.
3. The volunteer leader - Small churches are usually not able to hire even a part-time person to develop the ministry. A small church may have a volunteer leader, if at all. Large churches are usually more aware of the numbers of single and single-again people because of their larger church body and tend to have a staff pastor to oversee the ministry. Having a volunteer leader is certainly better than having none at all. The issues this person will have to deal with, however, include possible lack of time, training, resources, finances, networking relationships etc.
4. Lack of time - The volunteer leader will face the struggle of having enough time to
meet the demands of the ministry. Administration, planning, studying, teaching, recruiting and training leadership, finding resources, visitation etc take a lot of time. He/she needs financial, moral and prayer support from the pastor and church leadership to be effective.
5. Lack of finances - Money to run the ministry will usually be in short supply in small churches and in many large churches also. Priority is usually given to the more traditional, established ministries of children, youth, music etc before single adult ministry. Regular offerings could/should be taken and kept toward the expenses.
6. Networking relationships with other leaders - The volunteer leader needs to
work diligently at finding and developing relationships with other leaders in the same geographical area.
7. Teaching/training resources - Because small churches do not usually hire a leader for this ministry, they should, at the very minimum, pay for books, videos, and other teaching and training resources the leader will need. The leader should not hesitate or feel guilty about asking for this! Most churches purchase curriculum and materials for children’s, youth, music and other ministries.