Sermon ideas

Many church leaders have told us that they don't always know where to begin in addressing the issues that single people face. This was also borne out in the Christian Research Ltd survey that included the views of 400 church leaders from many different denominations.

We are developing resources for church leaders, including some sermon outlines and projector slides that can be used. Below you will find some suggested Bible passages to use when addressing singles and links to books and resources which may be helpful. 

In an address to the Amersham Deanery Synod, Single Christians director, Dr David Pullinger spoke about how the church was not reflecting a changing society.

Bible passages

A short article summarising research on which Bible passages church leaders would turn to when addressing singleness. The top three were found to be:

  1. Jesus and St Paul as single persons
  2. The creation of the new family of God, based on forming spiritual heirs, rather than biological ones
  3. Use of the Psalms to comfort and encourage.



Addressing a Deanery Synod

On 25 November 2015 Dr David Pullinger, Director Single Christians, was invited to address a meeting of the Amersham Deanery Synod. Here are 10 points made in the presentation and in response to the questions asked at the end.

Amersham - not all about families

Amersham is similar to many other London commuter belt areas. It has a larger percentage of married couples than in general in the population. This could make those who are single feel even more isolated. However, there are still over 30,000 single adults in the Chiltern Local Authority, 41% of the adults rather than 53% across England as a whole. Those 41% are made up of 25% never married, 7% divorced, 2% separated and 7% widowed. Just in case these percentages appear low, this means that 1 in every 4 adults you meet in this area has never married, and 1 in 6 adults you meet is divorced, separated or widowed, making 2 in 5 being single. (To get these figures, I followed the advice in Find the number of single people in your area)

1 New to many!

At the end, the Chairman said that he had never heard a presentation before about single people and appreciated it as it gave him lots to think about. We believe this is common and would love to talk about it to groups and organisations.

2 It is relevant to many

Many people have friends, relatives or children who are single. This was reflected in comments such as: “I’ve got a single 30-year old son at home”, to which one of the other members immediately replied ‘I have a 28-year single daughter living at home, perhaps we should put them in touch!” It was said jokingly, but with a real compassion and thought to exploring how such people could meet up. What could be arranged and organised that didn’t look inappropriate? We think that local groups supported by churches can be very beneficial socially and for those who want to find a life partner.

3 A changing society

There is a rapid changing mix of marital status in GB. 40% of adults (16+ not in education) are single. People are marrying later, still getting divorced and living longer so more likely to be widowed. Consequently the number of single persons is increasing. Some are happily single, others are not.

4 Church is not reflecting the changes

There is a much higher percentage of married people in the church than in society and a much lower percentage of single people in church than in society. The history of being ‘clerks in holy orders’, responsible for registering births, marriages and deaths gives a more regular touching point for families which does not occur for single people. What could be the touching points whereby single people come into contact with the church?

5 Families are exactly represented

The proportion of people in church in GB with dependent children is exactly the same as in society. However they often appear to be higher in number than they are. Why is this? First, those with dependent children attend more frequently than married people without (YouGov survey 2014). Second, if we meet one member of the family we think we meet the family as a whole, so meeting another member doubles the sense of their presence.

6 The Number One that single people want from their churches

Single people say they want their churches not to make any distinction based on marital status — in any area of church life - leadership, illustrations in talks and sermons, programme of activities and social life of the community - as well as dealing appropriately with Mothers and Fathers Days. For some churches this is reality, for others very much not the case. What is yours like?

7 Unmarried = gay?

“One of the things I experienced as a single minister coming to this area is that people assumed I was gay because I was unmarried.” said one of the Synod members. That is not untypical, particularly in areas that are higher in marrieds than others. We found in our survey of over 3,000 single Christians that almost 1 in 3 men under 30 was assumed to be gay by someone they had met.

8 Respecting the wish to marry or stay single

The majority of single Christians say that they want to get married. Respecting that wish means finding ways to support them. Encouragement, prayer, getting alongside through the process are helpful. As are some of the practical ways: organising ways they can meet in a local area - perhaps a pub lunch after morning service (for all), relationship courses (why start only when engaged in marriage preparation?), being on stand-by on the end of a phone during a date, or childcare for a younger widowed or divorced person to go out. Equally those who have decided that they wish to remain single deserve respect. Many say that churches don’t understand this wish - despite it being Biblical.

9 But where are the men?

Not all who want to get married will do so. There are double the number of ABC1 (often called middle class) single women who go regularly to church than men. That is partly because of the nature of jobs available in society, which means that fewer men require university level education to have a good career and partly because of the lack of men in church. Some women will remain single, despite their desire to be part of a family. What hope, what place in church and with what kind of encouragement can we enable them to flourish and be fulfilled? And how can we present the Gospel in such a way to be relevant and appealing to the under-represented ABC1 men?

10 Single people flourishing are a sign of the Kingdom

Single people flourishing is one of the main signs that the Church is not just another social organisation based on biological offspring, but one pointing to the Kingdom of God with spiritual heirs. Jesus introduced a new kind of community based around doing his words that was sharply contrasted to the extended family businesses that comprised the society of the day. Do our churches lift single people to flourish in such a way that they are a sign to others of the presence of the Kingdom of God?

Books and resources


Listed here are books on singleness that we or our friends have found helpful at one time or another. Many different tastes and church traditions are represented. Please let us know your favourites!

The link takes you to Goodreads, where customer reviews are available, or to other online records of the publication.

Singleness – general

Beyond Singleness: How to Make Better Relationships, by Helena Wilkinson
True Friendship: Walking Through Life with Your Christian Friends, by Vaughan Roberts
Single Minded: Being Single, Whole and Living Life to the Full, by Kate Wharton
Singles at the Crossroads: a Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness, by Albert Y. Hsu
Singlehood Redefined, Ed. by Adam and Bethany Smith
Reaching Single Adults by Dennis Franck, a Single Adults Minister in the USA for over 25 years.

Dating and relationships

Boundaries for Dating: Making Dating Work, by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend
The Five Love Languages: the Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman
Dating Dilemma: a Romance Revolution, by Rachel Gardner & Andre Adefope


Transforming the Struggles of Tamars: Single Women and Baptistic Communities by Lina Andronoviene (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2014) This is the best overview of the issues, summary of a way forward and references to work already published that we've found, particularly for single women. Ignore the title of the book and treat it as an in-depth study of singleness and the church. It's available both as Kindle and hard-copy.

A Biblical Theology of Singleness, by Barry Danylak (Grove booklet B 45)
God's kingdom grows by creating spiritual children instead of physical children. Substantive version of this PhD study has since been written.

Singleness and the Early Church: Encouragement for Living the Single Life in Christ Today, by Kathryn Wehr (Grove booklet S 123)
Helping Single Christians think through their Calling, Prayer and Sexuality.

Water is Thicker than blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness, by Jana Marguerite Bennett
Academic theological study of St Augustine's writing on marital status and how faith in local church communities can be built whether single or married. This is not for the faint-hearted unused to academic writing - but worthwhile. She ends with a question to each of us - what does our 'household of faith' look like whether we we are living alone, as a family or with others?

Divorce and Remarriage in the 1st and 21st Century, by David Instone-Brewer (Grove Booklet B 19)
How First Century Jews and First Century Christians understood the prohibitions and allowances for divorce. Followed by an application for 21st Century.


Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, by Eric Klinenberg
A USA secular approach to the rise of singleness, their attitudes and fears, plus historical factors giving rise to this phenomenon in Western societies. Useful background as no equivalent for the UK