I have a lot of experience in singles ministry. When I graduated high school, I helped start a singles group at my then church. When I switched churches, I found myself in the singles group and inadvertently a leader there. Even now, the Broaddus household is the default hang out for many of the single folks in our church. Part of it is because my wife and I have a heart for single folks (the other part is because we have an open door policy, so folks are free to come by to eat and do laundry whenever they need to. I’m glad to see that even when those singles become marrieds, they still like to come by and hang out).

My question to you is how would you design a singles ministry? How would you want a church to minister to your needs and where you are in your life? What would you expect them to do and be about?

Personally, I wouldn’t have one. I don’t believe in segregating folks by where they are in life: Youth Groups, College/Career, Singles, Young Marrieds, Old Marrieds, Single Agains. Not my thing and I think it does a disservice to the idea of the church being the body of Christ (by the way we minister, we’d like all the thumbs over here, never associating with the toes. Feel free to imagine where your station in life places you as I avoid the easy jokes).

Your typical church singles group has a few key characteristics: 1) the average stay of the typical member is five years and 2) about every three years, the group has gone through a cycle of turnover. Why? Because it is one of the few ministries where the object is to get out of it. People date, and if they marry, they leave. People date, and if it doesn’t work out, they leave. People hang out, and if there are no prospects, they leave.

In my experience, the singles ministries of churches, despite their best efforts become more about the meat market. Singles are there mostly to meet other singles. The best groups realize that while they are busy searching, they ought to be forming relationships/friendships that will last long past their single days. At their worst, folks of the meat market can be (unintentionally) cruel: the church is a refuge, and sometimes the folks who take refuge there are … socially inept. They aren’t the coolest, the funniest, the most charming. Sometimes they are awkward and uncomfortable and every bit deserving and searching for love, acceptance, and community.

And what would the singles issues be? Well, that’s pretty much the point of Friday Night Date Place, but once you get past the big issues (loneliness, finding God’s will, learning patience) … actually, scratch where that thought was going – all singles issues are people issues, things that everyone struggles with. You think it’s tough being lonely when you’re single; try being lonely in your marriage. And single folks would know that and would have a better idea of what they were getting into when they get married, if we weren’t so busy setting up dating opportunities for them.

So, my singles ministry would be the absence of a singles ministry. If single folks wanted to get together on their own time, in their own small groups, I’m all for that, I’m a pro-(good) cliques sort of guy. However, on “church time” the body of Christ ought to be the mixed bag of nuts it needs to be. Diverse life stations learning from one another.

In the mean time, I guess I have a small group who is learning what it means to live life together. Doing laundry, having meals together (teaching some of them how to cook), and hanging out. That’s as close to a single’s group as I’m getting these days (though I’m still trying to figure out how so many of us ended up in the tranny comedy club that one time. We’ll chalk that one up to incarnational ministry).

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.