When I was a single woman in my mid-thirties, I invited the elders of my church and their wives to a formal holiday dinner as a way of expressing my thanks to them for their care and ministry. ” This pastor offered this comment as an expression of thanks and I received it that way.As I served the standing rib roast on a table set with china and crystal, one man remarked, “Wow. But I did ponder it afterward, realizing that for many people the link between youthful inexperience and singleness is inextricably linked.In my early 20s, I too would have served pizza on paper plates, if indeed I had thought at all about offering hospitality.This is one of the potential pastoral challenges to ministering to single adults.While I was thrilled to get to know so many families, one wise woman saw the burnout coming.She advised me to pray and ask God which of these families he was asking me to invest in.A single woman in her 50s with a demanding career caring for elderly parents is not equivalent to a recent college grad who is still living at home.Both are unmarried, yes, but chances are, the older single woman and the parents of the college grad may have more in common.
But church leaders also need to recognize that when marriage is devalued in our culture, that brokenness comes into the church, too.
It’s important that unmarried men and women are discipled as men and women and not a generic lump of singleness.
From my perspective, Scripture’s emphasis is on being made a man or a woman in the image of God, with a secondary emphasis on how that looks in the various roles and seasons of life.
Conversely, unmarried men and women are not the church’s workhorses.
As a new believer, I was in big demand as a new babysitting resource in the church.