Some people might describe the church’s relationship with single adults as “complicated.” Singles can feel unengaged, forgotten, or even sidelined. The situation is often even more challenging for single parents. How can we disciple and mobilize single adults in our congregations?
Prescribing ways to equip singles for God’s mission is difficult. The category “single adults” can include young college graduates, middle-aged people who never married, single parents, elderly widows or widowers, and divorcees. Yet God calls every single adult, no matter his or her stage of life, to participate in His mission. Mobilize singles in your congregation by discipling them to recognize their worth, picture their place in God’s mission, assess their relationships and resources, and go to the nations.
Recognizing Their Value
When preparing single adults for God’s mission, help them recognize their value comes from God. Point them to God’s proclamation that He sees, loves, and chooses them. By grounding their worth in God, singles experience His sufficiency, which gives them the strength to participate in His mission.
Picturing Their Place in God’s Mission
Next, help single adults envision their place in God’s mission. While some singles believe they are stuck in a holding pattern until married, the Bible paints a different picture. In 1 Corinthians, Paul encouraged singleness, claiming unmarried men and women are free to be “anxious about the things of the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32, 34 ESV). God never intended for the church to have benched singles waiting for a marriage ceremony to get them into the game. God wants Christians, whether single or married, to know Him and make Him known. He invites singles to boldly take His name to the lost.
Assessing Their Relationships and Resources
Help singles assess their relationships and resources in light of God’s mission. First, encourage them to consider their relationships. Do they know nonbelievers with whom they can share? Do they know Christian friends whom they can include in their intentional missions activities? Can they encourage their children or roommates to go on mission with them? Do they know ways the church could walk alongside them as they engage the lost? Next, urge singles to consider using their resources for God’s mission. They can leverage flexible schedules to intentionally seek out relationships with the lost, money to fund a missions project, vacation time to work alongside a missionary, or homes to host lost people.
Going to the Nations
Finally, encourage singles to go to the nations. God calls singles to missions tasks as varied as they are—ranging from meeting a new neighbor from another culture to moving across the globe to spend their lives making God known. The church must help them discern God’s call and support them as they go.
By investing in single adults, your church can mobilize an often-overlooked demographic, cheering them on as God uses them to change the world.
Anna Daub is a former GA and Acteen who served with the International Mission Board. She currently works at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.