Answer: Bill Flanagan suggests four things a congregation will learn from having an active ministry to single adults.
What a Church Will Learn From Having a Single Adult Ministry
A common and continual frustration of many leaders in single adult ministry is that married adults, pastors and others in the church do not understand their ministry. Just as a church should think through and clearly state its mission and purpose, the leaders of a ministry to single adults should think through, articulate and be aware of how the ministry influences and affects the congregation.
Bill Flanagan suggests four principles leadership of a single adult ministry hopes a congregation will learn.1. We want to raise the consciousness of the whole Church of Jesus Christ to understand that singleness is natural and healthy. [i] One is not a half number; it is a whole number! The tendency for the evangelical Church to be married and family focused leaves single adults feeling less than whole some, if not much of the time. Rather than viewing single adults as people who need our help relationally, (hoping they will get married and become whole, normal couples) the goal for the Church is to understand that all of us need to learn from one another and can benefit from ministering to each other, whether single or married.
Single people have much to teach and offer to the total Body of Christ. The Church needs to understand and believe that unmarried, separated, divorced and widowed people are not always less fortunate than married people. We need to be committed to modeling the truth that personal fulfillment and wholeness does not come from marriage, but relationship in/with Christ.
2. We want to bring the entire congregation to a deeper understanding of marriage, divorce and remarriage. [ii] A congregation watching, interacting with and learning from individuals in an active single adult ministry will learn more about the issues of unconditional fidelity and commitment in marriage than a congregation without a single adult ministry. They will better perceive and discern the meaning of volitional love, and when and where to go for help in a marriage, or in their personal life when things begin to fall apart. This is because an effective ministry to single adults deals with relevant issues of marriage, divorce and remarriage. The learning and healing that take place in the lives of individuals is bound to influence others, both married and single in the church.
The biblical teaching concerning grace, forgiveness and wholeness will have many opportunities to be put into practice among believers in the church. Openness and non-judgmental attitudes will have greater opportunity to be displayed because of the many single and single-again individuals who are part of the single adult ministry. The issues, realities and biblical teaching concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage will also have a greater opportunity to be portrayed, and, indeed, need to be addressed because of the numbers of divorced and remarried individuals that are attracted to a ministry to single adults.
3. We are totally committed to the integration of single adults into the whole life of the church. [iii] One of the goals of a single adult ministry is to see them eventually involved in the total life of the church; singing in the choir or worship groups, playing an instrument, teaching children, ushering, serving on the greeting staff, serving on teams and committees, helping in the kitchen etc. Single adult ministry is not a stopping place. It is a resting place for people for a temporary period of time. After individuals have been nurtured and have grown spiritually and relationally, many of them serving in one way or another in the single adult ministry, most of them will move on into the whole life of the church. They will rub shoulders, hearts and hands with people of all ages and types (married, single, senior, men, women, children, youth). Many will find a place of ministry in the church, fulfilling the biblical mandate of becoming a servant.
This reality is difficult for the director/pastor to accept at first. Training leaders for ministry to single adults, then seeing them move into another ministry within 9- 18 months is a hard pill to swallow. This “sliding door” principle is healthy, however, for single adults to continue their spiritual, relational and ministry growth, and is necessary for the rest of the church to be educated and informed about ministry to single adults.
4. Single adult leaders need to understand that the predominant goal of the people in their ministry groups is to find and develop healthy relationships with males and females, usually with the hope that they will eventually marry. [iv] As was stated earlier, healthy friendships and compatible relationships are probably the biggest need and desire of single adults. It is sad that many churches do not recognize they should be one of the main places where opportunities for these to form are given. With the single adult population approaching 50% of all adults in the nation, the Church should take the opportunity to provide outlets for healthy friendships and relationships with the same and opposite sex to form in a loving, Christian atmosphere. A healthy single adult ministry is a perfect example of one such opportunity.
Again, as stated above, the principle of a “meat market” should be vocally discouraged and disapproved of in order that the beauty and reality of Christian love and acceptance will be displayed. This reality will illustrate a community similar to that of the early church where the secular world looked at it and said, “See how they love each other.”
[i] Ibid., 44.