Church can be a difficult place for singles. Not long after I graduated college, I joined a great congregation with a thriving network of small groups. I had good friends, a faithful community, and a solid spiritual foundation. The only thing I didn’t have was a spouse. You would think the former three would outshine the latter, but it turned out this wasn’t the case.
Over time, the married couples started families and lost touch. My Church didn’t have any resources for older singles, so it quickly became a lonely place to be on Sunday mornings. Without support from Christian friends, my spiritual life took a considerable hit and my faith suffered. All in all, it was certainly not the best chapter in my walk with Christ.
Though I eventually recovered from these events, the experience did teach me something about singleness in the Church. It’s not enough for pastors to extol the virtues of celibacy to unmarried listeners, and individuals shouldn’t wait for a congregation to meet their needs. If singles ever hope to have a place in the Christian community, both sides need to take intentional action. Katie Jones, of Relevant Magazine, briefly touched on this in a recent piece where she encouraged married believers to invest in their unmarried friends. She writes,
“I don’t need your life to look like mine. I don’t mind your messy, kid-filled busy life. I would actually love to be a part of it. I can come over and help you fold laundry. I can laugh with you about the crazy comment your kid said over dinner. I can tag along at the grocery store or in the car during school pick-up.”
“As a part of Christ’s family, I want to share my life with you too. The good, the bad and the ugly. The successes at work. The fears of not measuring up. The failures I need to say out loud to know someone will still love me despite them. As a millennial, I want to be a part of your life and am hoping you want to be a part of mine as well.”
It’s necessary for believers everywhere to accept that marital status should not exclude someone from the hospitality of Christ. Inviting single Christians into your home, and even into your world, can have a profound effect on their faith as well as yours. Still, this is only half of the solution. Individuals themselves must be willing to take the first steps. Marshall Segal, a popular contributor to desiringGod, recently gave single believers a number of tips for navigating life. Notably, he encouraged readers not to let opportunity pass them by,
“If God leads you to marry, you may never again know a time like the one you’re in right now. A season of singleness is not the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others.”
“With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You’re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), with literally everywhere to go.”
There is much work to be done before singles can comfortably find a place in the body of believers, but that does not mean we should be discouraged. God has provided Christians of all backgrounds with the grace to reach out and connect with one another. It may be difficult, even awkward at times, but God never intended his people to walk through life alone. Together, we form the Kingdom of God.
*Ryan Duncan is an Editor for Crosswalk.com