What single Christians say makes a single friendly church

Single Christians want to be included fully and equally into every aspect and ministry of the church’s life, in the same way as for married couples and families. That was one of the top findings in our survey into what makes a single-friendly church.

Respondents said that, where churches didn’t differentiate on the basis of marital status, singles felt more welcome, valued, respected, supported and loved.

They also said that a single friendly church was one which had:

  • Other single people among the congregation so that they felt less of an oddity
  • Social events and activities that do not consist entirely of people in relationships
  • Single leaders as role models
  • Groups to join
  • Talks and preaching that take account of singleness
  • Offers of hospitality
  • Friends in the church
  • Activities
  • Outreach activities
  • Prayers for single people

Based on the research, there are a number of things that you should consider:

  1. Find out if you are representative of your local area
  2. Use talks and examples that relate to single people
  3. Practice hospitality in homes or public spaces
  4. How to approach Mother's and Father's Days
  5. Learn from the big churches

Are you representative of your local area?

Our survey showed that there is a predominance of married people in most churches. Single people tend to drop out once they reach 25, because they feel that the church doesn't really know what to do with them. It's relatively easy to discover if your church is representative or not. Just follow this guidance. You can also do your own audit of your church if it is very large by following this advice.

Use talks and examples that relate to single people

Examples in sermons and talks drawn solely from family life can leave single people feeling misunderstood and invisible. After all, only a small proportion of Jesus's parables are about families. Singles want examples and subjects relevant to them - perhaps speak to singles in your church for ideas.

Practice hospitality in homes or public spaces

Many singles reported feeling excluded from the social life of sharing meals with others. Most suggest that Sunday lunch time with other Christians would ease their isolation and help them to build relationships.

What should I do about Mother’s and Father’s Days?

Different churches say that they approach this in a number of ways in order to avoid excluding those who do not have a biological family. Mothering Sunday in England was historically a day of pilgrimage to the 'mother' church, when communities would meet together to celebrate their faith. This idea has got taken over by a biological celebration of mothers and fathers. Because church is the 'new family of God', different approaches could include the following:

  • Have a celebration of the biological mothers and fathers on a Saturday.
  • Because all members of the church act to support the faith of children, celebrate all women on Mother’s Day and all men on Father’s Day.

Further ideas:

  • Celebrate those in the role of supporting and developing faith in children, particularly children's workers, youth group leaders, school teachers etc. as well as the biological parents.
  • Include Godparents specifically into the day (the name says it all!)
  • Or, because many single Christians are themselves godparents, perhaps we start to think about ways to celebrate and support god parenting?

Learning from the big churches

Overall bigger churches are growing and smaller churches declining. In particular they appear to be more attractive to single people, especially the younger adults. What can smaller churches learn from them and do? We've taken some insights on this from single people themselves which you can read here.