What single Christians say make great leaders

Our survey respondents highlighted how church leaders or workers have supported single Christians, from including them in talks and sermons to organising social events and offering practical help. Here is the list of top things that leaders do to promote a single-friendly church.

1. Include single people in talks and sermons and give talks on relationships

The most important small change is for the leader to include single people when they preach and talk.  Too often sermon illustrations and applications are geared to family life using interactions with spouses and children.  Unless balanced, this is received as excluding.  Either cut out such illustrations or also include ones relevant to single Christians. One leader asks for illustrations by email from a group of single people when preparing his sermon.

Give talks or hold a series in church about relationships. If the talk is specifically to be about singleness, many wanted a single person or someone who had been single a long time to give the talk. Some also suggested separate talks for singles workshops, weekends away or conferences if the church had similar events for married members.

If there is a seminar or talk on singleness, one church enables SMS text Q&A, so people could ask honest questions anonymously from amidst the congregation (preferably through an intermediary, so also anonymous to the church leader).

2. Organise social and fun events

The second most appreciated action by good leaders was organisation of social events in the church - not necessarily by the leader as an individual.  This might be for singles (annual/monthly) or all adults (mixed married and single).

3. Practise hospitality

The most lonely point for most single Christians is when they walk away from church to go and eat alone.   The simple act of offering hospitality, for example Sunday lunch or on feast days (Easter, Christmas) when they might otherwise be on their own transforms their experience of the community of faith. However, they didn't want to be treated as a 'single' in doing so, but simply included with others in a family setting.

4. Find and promote good models of Christian singleness

What sustained many single Christians was seeing a leader with a 'well-lived single life in action'. Ensure that leadership teams includes such a person is greatly encouraging to people as to how to live their own lives as a Christian. Although challenging to some churches, this might also include someone who had been divorced as well as the never married.

5. Pray!

Knowing that someone is praying, whether personally or as part of church daily or weekly services, encourages and sustains single Christians.  This is enhanced if it is about specific  issues that they face.

6. Work to include those of all marital status into church activities

‘Every week I look down the list of activities in the notice sheet and again there are things for children, parents, married people and nothing for me as a single person.”

Organise church activities and programme so that everyone is involved, and singles and marrieds are treated in the same way.

7. Explore whether groups for singles would be helpful

Many churches run groups for single people beyond the usual 20-30s (which are lower in total number than the other single adults).  Some people hate the idea of being ‘singled out’ and see it almost as shame - as a club they don’t want to be a member of. However some churches handle this well, through talking and engaging with them.

The outcome can be groups that take a number of forms: a temporary group to explore what issues are being faced, or ones specific for certain types of single person, for example women or men, a support group for single divorcees, or single parent ministry.  They need not (perhaps should not), necessarily be the traditional church- or home-based meetings, provided sensitivity is present about costs.

8. Keep in contact (SMS text, email)

Very favourable comments were made about church leaders who keep in touch and contact by using texts or email to check how people were. Whereas contact is sometimes maintained with one member of a family being asked how the others are doing or messages passed on about activities going on, single people have to be contacted directly and value being so.

9. Enable practical day-to-day help

Many issues about singleness are not about not being married. They are about the consequences of living or dealing with the situation of being on one’s own.

  • providing baby-sitting or child-minding to enable a working single parent to get to evening Bible studies. A church group organised a rota for one mother for this.
  • not travelling alone at night. Several told us how they valued the thoughtfulness of being accompanied home after church events.
  • being visited when ill. NOTHING appears to irritate single people more than seeing the sometimes lavish care offered to spouses of those who fall ill when often nothing is offered to those who are single.
  • care for a sick child. Often working single parents lose income when they have to go home to pick up a sick child from school or look after them.  Are there members of the congregation who might be willing to be named and introduced to school as helping when this occurs?
  • dealing with divorced partners. For example, one person appreciated the welcome and acceptance given to her non-Christian divorced husband in church because he was father to the children attending. The act of being kind to him in that situation was transformational for her and her relationship with him (and who knows where it might lead in the future?)

10. Help look for a partner

Many times single people feel they have reached the limit of what they can do in seeking a partner. Some leaders offered to look out for an appropriate partner. Others suggested that any person could bring their date to church to be checked out (viewed positively).  Further leaders suggested meeting with their local Christian colleagues to see what could be done to help.

11. Know about and recommend singles events and groups

Practical help can be offered in terms of knowing about organisations and networks that offer talks, events and holidays to single Christians, without the intention of them being a dating venture. 

For example, most of the big Festivals now have a series or individual talks around singleness that might be helpful.  There are local groups and special interest groups listed on SingleChristians.co.uk.