The Value of Singles in Ministry

Last weekend, our Student Ministry (TSM) held our annual Girls Night In for our junior high and high school girls. It’s our chance to create a fun evening with karaoke, crafts, a photobooth, skits, and a message tailored just for the girls we care for at TSM. I was asked to write a letter to my 2007 self based on what I know now and what I was going through then.

A friend mentioned the impact that it had on the girls and leaders that night, more specifically the fact that I didn’t mention Dill or our marriage. I didn’t mention Dill for two reasons: 1) my letter was about finding my worth as a woman, which I believe should happen before marriage and 2) I know when I was in high school, my future husband was already on my mind on a nearly daily basis. I didn’t want to feed into that any more than culture and the church (as a whole) already does.

There is nothing wrong with having a desire to be married. Marriage is a good thing. It’s a gift from God. There is something wrong with setting your identity in your future marriage or believing your true purpose won’t be revealed until you’ve met your husband. Not only will that mindset rob you of a quality relationship with God, but it will also lead you into an unhealthy marriage. I love my husband more than anyone on this earth but he’s no Jesus (and he would say the same about me).

So, what’s responsible for this mentality? I believe the church plays a huge part of this, without realizing it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small planter church with 50 people or a large mega church with thousands of members. If you walk into either, there’s a huge amount of focus and energy spent on children ministry, student ministry, marriages, and families. And rightfully so — investing in families means we’re investing in our future generation. What you don’t see as often are strong singles ministries in the church (at least, not without looking for it). And well-intentioned couples trying to fix singles up with another single guy/girl just unintentionally makes them feel like they haven’t met their full potential. It can make singles feel a little alienated and out of place, or like the black sheep of the church family. Obviously, being single comes before marriage. But singleness should never be viewed as merely a stepping-stone or the pre-requisite course before you get to graduate to marriage.

After graduating college and entering the workforce, I was fortunate enough to be part of a small church with a huge emphasis on families and singles. I was able to connect with a large singles group, be challenged by and grow with them, and it altered my life and relationship with Jesus in the best way. It showed me the great value of singles in community and ministry and allowed me to find my worth in God as a single woman.

Based on my experience and what I wished I learned sooner, here are 5 ways to make the most of your blessed singleness:

  1. Care for others around you. It may not seem like it, but you have a huge advantage in your ability to invest the time and energy to care for others. That’s not say singles are just sitting around waiting for something to do. But it does mean that your attention and energy is mostly divided to the degree that you choose so. Invest in a community group of singles or married couples and find ways to bless them. Did a couple in your friend group just recently have a baby? Offer to wash their dishes, or help clean up. Is someone in your community group sick? Offer to bring a meal or medicine over. Find a ministry that you are passionate about. After college, God introduced me to an organization that welcomed international students to the Houston area. I was able to make friends with those who left their families and countries for schooling and allowed me to be part of holiday and game parties for those interested in experiencing our culture while they were here. Being an independent agent allowed me to serve others in a completely different way than being married.

2. Pray for your friends’ marriages. We need your prayer and your support. Simple as that.

3. Ask God to enrich your single life. How many sermons have you heard on singleness? Probably not a whole lot. But rather than dismiss marriage sermons as unrelatable, ask God to make every message applicable to your life. I loved hearing sermons that were about marriage, for two reasons 1) I wanted as much insight into marriage since I knew marriage was a desire of mine and 2) it gave me the chance to find ways to apply it to my life at the time, regardless of my single status. Anytime I caught myself thinking “well this message isn’t for me”, I would ask for humility and trust that God has me within ear shot of this message for a reason.

4. Invest in your relationship with God. Obviously, this is something you need to do, no matter the life circumstance. But as a single man or woman, you have the unique and blessed ability to invest your life as being solely devoted to knowing and living for God. I love how Paul puts it:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.  1 Corinthians 7:32-35

5. Be on guard. The enemy, the one who wants you isolated and divided from God, will try his best to convince you that your singleness is a curse. He will use holidays, Sunday mornings, movies, and friends to remind you of your singleness. I want to recognize that singleness, when you desire marriage, can be lonely. There is a sting every time a kind friend tries to set you up on a date, or with each sappy social media post featuring a happy couple. The desire for marriage is from God. The pain of singleness is not. Recognize when the enemy is using your singleness to hurt you and be on guard against it. Ask God to reveal in your heart if you are idolizing marriage and to show you the blessings of where He has you now.
Most of all, believe this truth:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11

If you can’t tell by my word vomit in this lengthy blog post — I’m passionate about singles’ purpose in our church. These are all things I struggled with and that I wish more people spoke on and so I hope this helps bring another perspective to those who can relate.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me here.

 

 

 

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