by Tim Sweetman
Carolyn McCulley has an extremely helpful resource on Desiring God for pastors and church leaders who want to encourage their communities to be faithfully serving singles.
Through the years, I’ve observed that The Singles can be a prickly lot to pastor. Whatever leaders say from the pulpit about singleness is guaranteed to encourage some and offend more. I know because I’ve been in both camps, depending on where I am in the cycle of hope or despair and how I am working that out in my soul before God:
Therefore, I have a list of insights about single adults that I’d like to offer to church leaders. The hope here is that these ideas will foster a stronger connection between unmarried people and their local congregations.
You are not shepherding a dating service — wait, yes you are.
Churches should have a high view of marriage and uphold it without apology. But church leaders also need to recognize that when marriage is devalued in our culture, that brokenness comes into the church, too. There was a time when older members of any community worked hard to ensure the next generation married well. In our current hands-off approach, many single adults are adrift and need help to meet and marry wisely because that’s not a priority in our culture.
In the face of that neglect, the church should be proactive about facilitating what God prizes in Scripture. That said, there’s a huge difference between being nosy busybodies and facilitating relationships among single adults. In my observation, the best resource the local church has is married men who befriend and mentor single men — not to “fix” them, but to invest in them as brothers.
So to help unmarried adults meet and marry well, the church needs to be proactive about creating contexts for singles to meet each other and live out dating relationships in the context of community. What that looks like will depend on many factors specific to local communities, which is why church elders need to lead and shape this process.
This article is one that you will want to pass on to your pastoral leadership, or perhaps just read for your own edification. You can check it out here for all eight of Carolyn’s ideas.
This article was originally published by Marry Well on Nov. 7, 2011.
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