1. Churches of all sizes have single adults. The number of single adults increases as church size increases, and so does the mixture of those never married, divorced, and widowed. Smaller churches are less likely to have never-married singles or widows/widowers. Single adults who are divorced are present in churches of all sizes.
2. One-third of congregations responding to the survey agreed to the statement, "Our church effectively disciples single adults." Churches under 50 in attendance were much more likely to agree with the statement (62 percent). Churches with 250 or more in attendance were much more likely to disagree with the statement (68 percent). However, large majorities of churches in all sizes agree that, "Our church's ministry to single adults needs improvement" (86 percent overall).
3. Twenty percent of churches responding to the survey agreed to the statement, "Our church has a ministry plan for ministry to single adults." Churches with 250 or more were slightly more likely to agree with this statement (31 percent). Developing a ministry plan may be difficult because of the diversity in which single adults find themselves (divorced vs. never married vs. widowed vs. parent vs. young vs. old).
4. Sixty-three percent of churches responding to the survey said, "Our church does not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults." Seventy to 80 percent of churches with less than 100 in attendance do not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults. However, 23 percent of churches with 250 or more did not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults. Grief Recovery programs are offered by 42 percent of large churches; 23 percent offer a Divorce Recovery program; and 39 percent of large churches offer Sunday School or small groups specifically for single adults.
5. Although most churches do not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults, large majorities of churches in all sizes agree that, "Single adults and married adults mix well in our church." Majorities of churches in all size categories report having single adults serving on the church board.
Suggestions for Churches:
1. Become single adult sensitive. Listen to announcements, lessons, sermons, etc. with the perspective of the single adult in mind. In your presentations, written or oral, does "man" equal "husband" or "woman" mean "wife?" In other words, will single adults feel included?
2. Recognize singleness as a viable lifestyle. It is possible to affirm single adults and their singleness without undermining family ministries. Some single adults are unmarried due to their Christian dating standards. Others have experienced the death of a spouse. Some adults are single as the result of the decisions of others.
3. Realize single adults are a growing part of the population. As baby-boomers continue to age, and they lose their spouses, there will be more single senior adults.
4. Build a relationship with a single adult. Do you know what his or her goals, hopes, and dreams are? Journeying with a person provides valuable insights into the issues and challenges he or she faces.
5. Realize that some single adults had reached a place of contentment with their singleness. This does not mean they have closed the doors to future relationships. Rather, it means they have learned to be content at this stage of life.
6. Be aware of events that create stress. These events will vary with each single adult. However, here are some trigger-events:
- Loss or threatened loss of employment
- Parenting challenges - parenting was designed as a two-person responsibility. Single-parents may need assistance in providing role models and mentors for their children.
- Death of a parent or friend. This is especially difficult for never-married adults. Single adults who have lost a friend or parent to death have lost a major part of their identity. They can feel like an orphan.