More people are single in the United States than at any time in history (110.6 million people 18 years old and up in 2018). Singles currently make up 45.2% of the total adult population in this country. A number of other nations reflect similar statistics. Contemplating this reality should cause Christians to ask, “How aware are churches of this, and what is being done to intentionally reach and to thoughtfully involve those who are single in the family of God?”
Getting into the specifics of what it means to be “single” is quite wide-ranging. For example, one may have lost a spouse in death after 50 plus years of marriage. The fact is, many who are presently married will one day find themselves single because of death (Romans 7:1-4). Someone else who is 30 with three kids may have lost a spouse in an automobile accident. Another may be single again after going through the trauma of divorce (cf. Matthew 19:4-9). Then there maybe someone who’s single at 40 who might be open to the possibility of marriage but simply hasn’t found the right person and has never married. Others may be single and have decided to remain that way (cf. Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7:28, 32-35). More examples could be given, but you get the idea that while all of these may be single, there’s certainly no “one size fits all” pattern.
When we examine Scripture, we are alerted to people like Jesus, Paul, Anna (Luke 2:36-38), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16:1-2), Ezekiel (24:15-24) and Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43) who either were single all their lives or for a significant period of time. All of these, and many others who could have been mentioned, were marvelous and faithful servants of God. Singles most assuredly matter to God and they also should matter to churches of Christ everywhere. If Jesus, Paul, Anna or Dorcas would have little to no place in a congregation today, something is wrong with that congregation!
Singles are Significant – in fact, they are INTEGRAL to the Growth and Health of the Lord’s church!
As I thought about this subject, I realized how often I have preached and written about marriage and the family – surely areas where much teaching and strengthening should be done. However, I also noticed that while I had preached a time or two in recent years on singleness, it was very disproportionate, especially when one considers how many people today are single or single again. I suspect I am not alone in this oversight. May God forgive this. Singles need solid applicable teaching and strengthening too!
On a recent Lord’s day, I spoke on marriage that morning and singleness at our assembly that evening. Both those who are married and those who are single overwhelmed me with a positive response to the singles sermon. I got encouraging emails the next week from friends and people I did not even know. Click/tap here to hear it.
One sister who has never married wrote, “Just to have someone validate my feelings of inadequacy and unimportance in the church means a lot. We can be a difficult bunch, needy (especially those without any familial support systems) and gone every other weekend, but we want to serve and very much want community and fellowship in the church.” Her statement reflects personal struggle, a love for God, a desire to serve, a longing for fellowship and community. Now aren’t those things exactly what the family of God is about? (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Let’s not forget how crucial singles are to the growth and health of the body of Christ.