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Why My Church Doesn’t Have a Singles Ministry

By Kris Swiatocho

Single WomanI have been single my entire adult life. Because I am single, I have had a front row experience of how churches are reaching and growing singles adults. As a result, I have found that most churches simply did not know much about us nor how to reach us. After several years of serving on various single’s ministry leadership teams as well as starting my own, God called me to help others do the same. Specifically to help reach the church, the ministers and staff; to educate and provide resources so that ALL churches would know how to reach singles.

While there are several large churches that have a singles minister or director and are doing a great job in reaching and growing single adults, most churches do not. Most churches give various excuses such as:

We don’t have any single adults.
 Well this is because you either are not defining singles correctly or simply have not looked at your membership demographics (or the demographics of your area).  In most large cities in the US, single adults are out numbering the married’s. I know this might be a shock to you considering the churches numbers do not reflect this. This is because we are not doing what is needed to reach them.

Single adults range from the 18 year old that still lives at home to the 29 year old single parent who has never been married to the divorced dad with grown kids to the 58 never married now taking care of their mom to the 68 widower who lives alone. It’s not that you don’t have single adults in your church or community; it’s how to reach them. So where do you start? How do you find them? 1) Look at your existing membership/attendance rolls and see who is not married. Categorize by age, past marital status, if they have kids that live at home or grown, etc. 2) Contact your town/city and find out the demographics of those living within a 5 mile radius. Once you find out this information, it will help you in the direction of how to reach them. You may find out you have a lot of single mom’s or widows. Depending on what you have the most of could determine whom you try and reach and how to minister to them.

Please know I believe singles ministry is simply one way to bring singles into your church. The goal with all ministry is reach people for Christ, help grow them so they will in turn reach and grow others (single or married).

If we start one, I hear it will end up being a meat market. I love to always answer this question and say, “Yes, it sure will, they can meet Jesus.” Churches have a huge fear that their singles ministry will end up being focused only on finding a mate. My first thought is…”and where would you like us to find a mate…in a bar?” My second thought is…”who is leading your singles ministry?” Church as a whole can easily be a place to only be fed and healed from a physical standpoint. But didn’t Jesus use these ways to minister so he could get to the person’s heart? He would feed and heal the body so that he could later feed and heal the soul? So if your singles ministry is thriving and growing and people come to meet the opposite sex, then who cares? It’s up to you as a church, as a leader to get them connected to the whole body of Christ. It’s up to you to get to know and build a relationship with them. And if they do find their spouse at your church, why would that be so horrible? The key to all of this is a solid foundation, structure, communication, building leaders and so on. The same way it would be for any ministry in your church that may meet someone’s emotional and physical needs first.

I have no idea where to start. Well, guess what? You can start with my ministry, The Singles Network. I lead the largest single adult leadership ministry in the country. My website has a ton of great resources to help you get started and keep going. Beside myself there are a ton of other great teachers, speakers, authors and pastors who are ready to help you as well. You can also call me at 919.434.3611 for help or attend one of my leadership retreats/conferences geared toward ministers, staff and leaders. Staring a single adult ministry is easy, it’s keeping it going that is tough. Because single adults are always on the move (whether getting married, moving into other parts of the Church or simply moving), the ministry can start off strong and begin to waiver. You have to learn how to keep your ministry going by growing leaders, expecting turnover, and change. The results can be phenomenal if you do.

I need to just focus on the traditional families like mine. I know it so much easier to just focus on what you know versus what you don’t know. I understand completely. I have never been married nor have children, yet I continue to have them cross my path as I lead singles. The solution? You build a team, a staff, and/or hire director that does care and understands single adults.

We don’t have the resources. 
I realize hiring a director does cost money. However, training a lay leader to be under an existing pastor does not. Most single adults have a way to pay for the things they might need. I say this in all ministry, “just do less and allow the singles to do more.” So you aren’t able to underwrite a huge conference or retreat?  Well, do a one-day conference at another church. Well, you aren’t able to order those Bible studies you wanted for all the singles? Since when do we need the church to buy our Bible studies? Well, we can’t bring in that fabulous speaker named Kris Swiatocho. Well, you start with your own pastors and lay leadership to speak and build. Don’t ever let resources keep you from doing what God has called you to do. Please see my website for a list of speakers that might be local to your area.

I think its better to include singles in our overall ministry of the church and not separate them out.  More and more churches seem to be doing this not because they really believe it’s the best choice but because they don’t want to deal with or mess with reaching single adults. Singles ministry can be difficult and time consuming due to the various needs of singles. However, churches cannot ignore that all people have specific needs that cannot be ministered too with one method. This is why we have youth ministry, women’s, senior and so on. I also say, “Not all churches are called to have a singles ministry but all churches are called to minister to singles.” It’s not that you have to have this huge singles ministry with a pastor or director. It’s more about how you minister to singles that might have specific needs such as how to build relationships for friendship or marriage. Needs such as divorce recovery, being a single parent, finances, loneliness, etc. Single adult ministry isn’t separating singles out from the body but instead, helping them grow in their own walks that enhance the entire body of believers.
So what is the real issue? What it really comes down to are most pastors like you are men with traditional families. You have been married since your early twenties. You have no idea what is feels like to be single. As a result, you simply teach and move towards what you do know…others like yourself. Please know, I am not writing this to fuss at you, as I know being a pastor is hard. I simply want to educate you on the other half of our population that makes up our cities and towns. A population that is ready and willing to serve the Lord. A population that could use support, counsel and encouragement. A population that needs discipleship. A population, just like Jesus, the greatest single who ever lived, who can also do amazing things for the God if only given the chance.

I encourage you to start today, asking God if you have been reaching ALL for Christ. Asking God what you need to be doing to reach the single adults in your church and community. And please know, when you make the effort to pour into a single adult, you are impacting the family of the future.

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Kris Swiatocho

Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment, co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources; From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus’ Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions. Kris is currently working on her fourth book: FAQ’s of Singles Ministry coming this fall 2012.

Why Single MOMS don’t go to church!

Why Single Moms Don’t Go To Church

It is estimated that 67% of single parents in the United States do not actively attend church anywhere. Why don’t they? In talking with single parents from around the country, conducting independent studies, and doing research for our ministry, here is what we found:

  • Many single parents fear they will be judged. Whether unplanned pregnancy or divorce led them to become single parents (or some other reason), there is a fear that they will not be accepted by the congregation.
  • Some single moms carry shame from past mistakes that may have resulted in their current situation. They fear they have somehow failed their children and forever scarred them. They cannot forgive themselves.
  • They do not feel that they belong. The typical family that we all grew up watching on television consisted of Dad, Mom, white picket fence, and 3 happy children, right? Many churches are made up of similar families. Therefore, single parents do not feel there is a place for them. They struggle to find a place where they fit in.
  • There is no Sunday School Class, Connect Group, Cell Group, (or whatever else your church may call its small group connection) for single moms. As is the case with all of us, we want to be with people who understand our journey. Support groups provide that environment.
  • Unplanned pregnancy, oftentimes, is categorized by the church as a more significant sin that perhaps lying, cheating, stealing, or any of the other sins that God detests. This, in turn, leads the church to believe any type of support for the single mother may in some way be promoting a “loose sexual lifestyle.”

We know that single parents can arrive at their journey in a variety of ways, just as diverse as the single parents themselves, and we know there are some amazing single parents out there thriving in their local churches. We also know that we dare not paint every church with the same brush, as there are some amazing churches out there doing amazing things for single parents.

We thank God that many of the churches around the country that have recognized the need to reach out to single parents in their communities. Many have understood the importance of the church being “inclusive” not exclusive. Many have seen that Jesus did not come to save just the finely-dressed folks that are perceptionally sin-free (however disillusioned this perception may be), but rather came so that all may have life and have it abundantly.

If you are a single parent in need of encouragement, or if you want more information on ministering to single parents in your church or community, as well as how to move past just a one-time event in your church for single parents, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com. (Jill Savage)

     I read this article and found it to be so true. Not so great for single dads at church either. Read and enjoy.

The Little Engine that Could

“Some days are diamonds and some days are stones”….”it’s the bad days that make you appreciate the good ones”…. “the grass is always greener on the other side” …. ” I have a week’s work to do in a day” ….” I’m just so tired”….well, the last one wasn’t a cliché but you get the message! Ask a question today and you will get many answers as to why someone cannot do a task.

We are planning our singles weekend in Lake City. Interesting responses….. ” I don’t support the idea of ministering to (special) groups” …. “WE….minister to everyone equally”…. followed by “but we don’t really have any singles”…. “well, you know, some of those people are divorced (whispered)” …. to the individuals “it’s too expensive (said by the single parent who just took her kids to Universal for a week). Lots of reasons NOT to succeed.

Went to a kid’s conference last weekend and learned about Orbeez , little synthetic rubber balls that go from the size of a mustard seed to the size of a grape if you add water. Pretty cool. Also, learned how a missionary asked for and was given 6 million meals to feed the hungry in Honduras. The solution: he asked and helped make it happen.

little-engine-that-could

Reminds me of a story I read as a kid, “The Little Engine That Could”. The question was if this little train engine could pull a load over the big mountain. After all, he was a small engine. But the engine said ” I think I can” and kept reminding himself each time the going got tough. ” I think I can!” “I think I can!”.

It’s time for us (believers, married people and singles, parents and grandparents, college age through grandparents to step up.  ” I think I can” will become ” I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”. Well, you get the idea!

Singles Conference Flyer

 

LAUNCH CHRISTIAN SINGLES WEEKEND!

“Planting Seeds…Preparing Soil”

FEB. 24-26

$33

HOSTED BY THE NEW HORIZONS CHURCH OF CHRIST

6130 US 441 S., LAKE CITY, FL 32025

(386) 288-4274 (Cole)— (251) 284-3793 (Jim)

Ministry leaders will have a list of local motels….

 

 

February 24-26, 2017   —    LAUNCH SINGLES WEEKEND! LAKE CITY , FLORIDA!!!

                                         “Planting Seeds-Preparing Soil”

Hosted by the New Horizons Church of Christ, Lake City, FL

Lessons about planting and harvesting, exploration of different techniques of farming, life application lessons, fellowship, singing…..Fun! Fun! including best cake contest…..more to come! $33 suggested conference cost….

**MAILING ADDRESS: New Horizon Church of Christ 184 SW Crescent St, Lake City, FL 32025**

>>>MEMO:SINGLES<<<

Building at:    6130 South US Highway 441, Lake City 32025….(386) 288-4274

Cole is getting a list of hotels/ there are many in the 50/60 dollar range. Also, State Park has Cabins $100 a night , sleep 6.

 

Divorced in the Church

My parents were married until death. My grandparents were married 52 years…until death. My aunts and uncles, the preacher and his wife, the governor and his wife and everyone we knew was married until they died.

The most scandalous thing we knew about divorce was from a Rolling Stones song, “I met a divorcee from New York City…” Well it was, after all, New York City. People did different things up there.

Then my generation came along. MANY (many…many…many) divorces have occurred. Times have changed. Laws changed. Opportunities changed.

Morals change? Maybe?

Has church changed? Many would say yes. Is it too tolerant of divorce? Maybe. The generation before me did not tolerate divorce. But it tolerated racism…..segregation…violence in the home…

Church is supposed to be a hospital for the sinner but many have tried to make it a hotel for some of the saints.

As a single (divorced) father, I had to look around for a church that welcomed me and my small daughter. Many did not want single parents. Many did not allow a divorced person to serve in the church. Many were willing to encourage us to go elsewhere. We did.

Divorce is often treated as the unforgettable sin. It isn’t. LAUNCH Singles Ministry supports and encouraged each person to change their heart and come (back) to a relationship with their Savior (Jesus Christ).

Single in the Church

Single in the Church of Christ….
Twenty four years ago Hurricane Andrew hit Miami and left me basically homeless, spiritually lost and hurting. My wife had left me a few months before and I was drowning my pain with alcohol. A big storm was part of the solution.
I went back to church by accident (a story for another time). I was impressed with the compassion of many churches in Miami but drawn to the Sunset church as I had been baptized and attended a church of christ in high school. So I started volunteering with church people cleaning out damaged homes, serving meals and gennerally being useful. A wonderful elder took me under his wing and showed me that Jesus loved me and church was more than a place to attend and keep checklists of holiness. Loved it!
Unfortunately, my soon to be ex- wife wasn’t buying it and divorced me. She had reconnected with an old boyfriend and moved back to New Jersey. She took our daughter away with her, of course. Many prayers and much anguish didn’t bring her back.
While the Sunset church was supportive, individuals in other churches of christ were not. The Key Largo Church of Christ told me i would have to be celebate and alone for the rest of my life and God didn’t forgive this sin. I honestly felt suicidal after meeting with him. After a few stops with work, I went back to my roots, the Gulf Coast of Alabama, for school. Most churches I visited in Mobile, Alabama, didn’t want single dads and their kids. I landed at the University Church of Christ where I was lonely but excepted. The minister, Marshall Underwood, sae would support an effort to have a singles ministry and we planned a singles day. Sixty five adult singles attended with little planning or advertisement! Many were single parents, divorced or shunned by their local congregations.
Twenty years later LAUNCH ministry continues. Our ministry is run by volunteers, outcasts and the neglected. We have never had a budget yet have met for twenty years. Never had a building yet baptized several each year (well over a hundred). Never promoting dating yet many pictures of husbands, wives and their children (our alumni)come in the mail with the Christmas cards each year.
God is good. He allows us to serve the widowed, divorced and never married. We take Jesus to the people the local congregations do not want.
We have our first get together in 2017 this February in Lake City, FL. Our topic is “planting Seeds, preparing soil” and we will study the parable of the planter. We expect a least one hundred singles to join us at a tiny church and learn about Jesus, raise the roof in enthusiastic singing and encourage one another.
Send us your singles…..we want to work with them. Regitration ino i as follows:
LAUNCH SINGLES WEEKEND—FEBRUARY 24-26 —MAIL $33 REGISTRATION TO: 184 SW Crescent Street, LAKE CITY FL 32025—-E-MAIL ME WITH QUESTIONS: xybatt@gmail.com

Time to Register For LAUNCH SINGLES CONFERENCE!!!

                                                                                   horizontalshuttle.jpg

February 24-26, 2017       LAUNCH SINGLES WEEKEND! LAKE CITY , FLORIDA!!!

                                                                             “Planting Seeds-Preparing Soil”

Hosted by the New Horizons Church of Christ, Lake City, FL

Lessons about planting and harvesting, exploration of different techniques of farming, life application lessons, fellowship, singing…..Fun! Fun! including best cake contest…..more to come! $33 suggested conference cost….

**MAILING ADDRESS: New Horizon Church of Christ 184 SW Crescent St, Lake City, FL 32025**

                                                                                             >>>MEMO:SINGLES<<<

                            Church Building address:    6130 South US Highway 441, Lake City 32025….(386) 288-4274
Cole is getting a list of hotels/ there are many in the $60 range. **Days Inn (441 at I-10)- 10 MIN/5 MI-  about $65
**Stephen Foster State Park has Cabins-24 MIN/15 MI- $100 a night , sleep 6.
**Suites 2 Home by Hilton -9 MIN/4 MI-sleeps 6 (we can help group you) , full breakfast, $124.