Kate Hansen – Queen Creek Student Pastor
Nearly 50% of the Christian church today is single. Whether that is never married, divorced, or widowed, single folks are actively a part of every Christian church today, and each person’s story is unique. While some folks struggle and resent the fact they are single, others find deep contentment with this phase of life. Despite the common factor of singleness within the church, it can often feel odd or abnormal to be single at church. Often times, I hear from married folks that because singleness was a season so long ago within their own life, they do not how to relate to the situation a single person is in. However, you do not need to be single to know how to care for those that are single around you.
Here are some ways you can love, encourage, and support your single friends in the church today.
First, grieve and support the realization of unmet expectations.
I never anticipated to be single at 27. And while not every single person has the same story, many unmarried adults expect, desire, and hope to be married. Part of finding contentment in singleness is being able to recognize that you may have unmet dreams. And anytime that dreams are unmet, grief follows. Allow for single adults in your life to grieve the loss of a dream or hope for this moment in their story. Recognize that every person’s story and experience with loss is different, and while some people feel like singleness is a form of suffering, other’s joyfully flourish during this season of their story. Support and remind single friends who may feel like they are in a season of suffering that God is sovereign, God is faithful, and God is ultimately good in using all parts of our story to bring Him honor and glory (Genesis 50:20, Isaiah 53:10-11, Romans 8:28).
Second, include single adults in your life.
There are few things more painful than being excluded from community, especially when the reason for exclusion is because of marital status. I’ll never forget being told by a friend that I could not join their Life Group because “basically everyone in the group is married.” The church does and should celebrate marriage, but it should never be done at the expense of creating divide or isolating those that are unmarried. All Christians are created and designed to be in community to raise up the church (1 Corinthians 14:26). I am so grateful for the friends who invite me into their lives by modeling healthy Godly marriages and intentionally do life alongside me despite different marital statuses. Scripture is clear that in heaven there will not be marriage (Matthew 22:30) and that we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Next time you see a person alone in the worship center, invite them to sit with you. Even better, invite them out to lunch and learn their story!
Third, do not make promises that are not from the Bible.
One of that hardest challenges I have faced as a single Christian is the unmet expectation that because I love Jesus, that means I will be married someday. Unfortunately, this is a common way that fellow Christians try to encourage me. “God is just writing a perfect love story for you, be patient.” “God will bring you a man who is faithful and amazing and then you will realize why it has not worked with anyone else.” “Someday, when you are married, you will be so grateful for these years as a single adult.” The reality is, Jesus never promises me that I will be married. Instead, there are a number of things that Jesus does promise: that our sins are forgiven (Matthew 9:2), we will enter the kingdom of God (John 3:6), we will receive life abundantly (John 10:10), God will fight for us (Exodus 14:14), and that God will meet all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). We need to lean into Biblical truth, not cultural expectations, when encouraging single adults. Resist the temptation when loving single adults around you to make promises that God does not make about our marital status. It creates more harm than help in their relationship with God when making promises on God’s behalf.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask single adults for other ways to support them specifically.
Perhaps someone needs accountability in an area of their life? As stated earlier, every person’s story is unique. How I feel about being single today is different than how I felt four years ago so never make an assumption that all single adults feel or experience the same thing. May these three suggestions help you, as you love, challenge, and encourage the single adults in your life.Click here for the photo credit on this post