Singleness in the Church

Singles Can Thrive in the Church


With the church focusing more and more on family ministries, single adults of all ages sometimes feel swept under the rug. What can the church do for singles, and how can single Christians thrive in the church? Christian leaders Jennifer Marshall, Carolyn McCulley, and Betsy Childs Howard sit down to discuss some best practices for encouraging single adults in the church. They provide practical advice for singles and teach ways for the church to love them well. 


Jennifer Marshall is one of the Vice Presidents at the Heritage Foundation where she runs and oversees research for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity. Carolyn McCulley is a speaker, filmmaker, and author of three books including The Measure of Success. Betsy Childs Howard is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and is the author of Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed



Carolyn said singleness is not monolithic. The church tends to minister to people based on marital status rather than life stage. Some people are single in their twenties, others lost a spouse and never remarried, while others have never been married and are in their fifties. Jennifer suggested the church cultivate culture of diverse small groups with people from a variety of backgrounds and ages. 

How does your church treat singleness? Do they only apply it to a certain age group? Or do they address several types of single adults? How does their approach help or hurt singles in your church?
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How does your church divide up small groups? Are they based on life stage, marital status, or gender? Or are they mixed with a variety of genders, ages, and life stages? What do you see as the benefit of your church’s approach for single adults? What are possible disadvantages?
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Are you single? If so, how has being single shaped you and your relationship with God? What hardships and joys do you face? If not, what was it like for you when you were single? What hardships and joys did you face?
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Jennifer said a desire for marriage is a good desire, but it’s also good to be content. Contentment and desire often stand in tension in our hearts. But the tension is good—it leads to godliness. 

How have you experienced the tension between contentment and desire in your life?
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Carolyn pointed out that as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ for eternity. How did that perspective strike you? What could you do to treat others—single or married—as your brothers and sisters?
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The video closed with the speakers encouraging singles to daily meditate on God’s Word (they referenced Psalm 25:3,10 and Ephesians 2:17–22). If you’re single, how has Scripture spoken to you and sustained you as a single adult? If you’re not single, how has meditating on the Bible helped you in the past? How could you encourage singles in your life to adopt that practice?
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If you’re married, how could you minister to the single adults in your life this week? If you’re single, what steps could you take toward meditating on God’s word as you go about your week?
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Rest in God’s Word and story this week. Love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, because those relationships will last into eternity. If you’re single, meditate on the truth of Scripture—God has not abandoned you. If you’re married, look for specific ways to encourage and include the single adults in your life.  


To learn more about the Gospel Coalition, click here.