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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Single-Minded Growth

By Dennis Franck
Oct. 20, 2013

Growing the church by reaching unmarried adults

He came to church feeling discouraged and neglected. His wife had recently left him; he struggled with feelings of rejection, loneliness and despair. Would anyone notice and reach out to him?

The Sunday morning service began with an upbeat announcement: “We welcome you today and are so glad you chose to join us. Let’s all stand and sing about God’s love.”

He was confused. Why would God allow his wife to leave him? He stood and tried to sing, but had to fight back tears. He turned his head so others near him would not see. He wondered if anyone else could relate to what he was going through.

Men and women in similar situations visit churches every week. They have endured divorce, the death of a spouse, or the unanticipated role of a single parent. They may simply have never married and struggle as singles in our “family and marriage-focused” churches.

How can they be served and resourced?

Developing community

Churches must be intentional about creating specific groups for unmarried adults, recognizing the need for an environment where friendships can form and life issues are taught from a biblical perspective not limited to a married frame of reference.

I recently interviewed two leaders who direct ministries to single adults. Their ministry models offer key insights.

First Assembly, Concord, N.C.

Adult Ministries Pastor Kevin Whidden leads SingleSource.

“On the second Saturday evening of each month, we hold a singles service with worship, teaching and discussion,” Whidden says.

Guest speakers and the SingleSource leadership team focus on single adult issues (friendships, self-esteem, dating, financial management, single parenting, purity, etc.).

The fourth Saturday features events designed to help people connect, with specific themed activities such as Western Night, Summer Blast, Pool Tournament, or Comedy Night.

SingleSource offers an economical, catered lunch on the church campus every third Sunday afternoon of the month for single adults to develop friendships and eat together.

Every week, a singles Sunday morning Bible study class offers teaching, discussion and prayer on discipleship issues and biblical doctrine. On Wednesday evening participants meet in homes in “Connect Groups.”

First Assembly also sponsors targeted ministries. DivorceCare and Single & Parenting are 13-week video series with teaching and discussion. The Smart Step-Family is an eight-week video course. A class named Single Specific offers teaching and discussion keyed to life issues that singles encounter.

A benevolence ministry, Car Care, is a free event held on a Saturday every three months offering basic car maintenance (oil change, etc.) for single women.

Julie Tucker assists Whidden as the single adult director. Eight single adult volunteers oversee different areas of ministry.

“Single adults are an ever-growing population within society and your church,” Whidden says. “Relevant ministry to single adults is one of the best strategies any church can use to grow the church of tomorrow and show the love, grace and redemption of Christ to those who have experienced the death of a spouse, death of a marriage, or who are not married.”

Evangel Church (Assemblies of God), Scotch Plains, N.J.

Single’s Pastor Jim Cookson leads Crossroads, meeting with participants three times a month.

“First Friday Fellowship” uses various restaurants as venues for dinner and socializing. The regular Crossroads meeting at the church lands on the second Saturday of the month with teaching, worship, discussion opportunities, and fellowship. Every fourth Saturday features a special event or social activity at church or off campus for the purposes of fun, building friendships, and enjoyment.

The ministry uses a variety of events including evening activities, longer trips and retreats, Bible studies, and gatherings for Thanksgiving and other special days.

“Crossroads provides a positive environment for fellowship, spiritual growth, new friends, fun, a connection for faith, and a ‘family,’” Cookson says. “Consistency, ministry longevity and quality fellowship are our strengths.”

Many participants visit Crossroads, attend a Sunday service, and eventually become part of the church. Crossroads is, many times, the vehicle that brings new members into the church. Many singles from other churches also come to Crossroads.

A leadership team of four people oversees planning, food preparation, office tasks, media resources and other things needed to develop the ministry.

“We also have a good volunteer group who set up for special events and do anything needed,” Cookson says.

A healthy single adult ministry is not secularly oriented, Cookson insists, but spiritually oriented.

“Single adult ministry provides a great opportunity for single adults to be connected and grow in faith,” he says. “Our culture is becoming a singles culture, and the church has a great opportunity to minister to this growing population.”

Meeting a need

Single adults need their church to realize not all adults are married; they want leadership to create an inclusive atmosphere in everything said and offered as ministry. Not everyone has family nearby, and churches have a wonderful opportunity to create an environment where all are accepted.

Pastors who realize the benefit of single adults meeting and mixing in a group with common interests, issues, needs and solutions will move their churches toward consistent growth and vibrant life.

Editor’s note: For more information on meeting the needs of single adults visit online or call 417-862-2781, ext. 4126.

DENNIS FRANCK is director of Single Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God.


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