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Launching a Christian singles ministry

Encouraging strong family bonds and hosting family-friendly activities are essential parts of any church's ministry. However, the single members of your church also need opportunities to bond and grow in faith.

Reflect on how your church serves singles. Recognize that "single" is not a singular subject. Never-married, divorced, separated and widowed adults and single parents are all part of that category, but their needs and interests can be very different. Consider how establishing singles ministries will help your community.

Once you decide to start singles' ministries, consider the unique traits and characteristics of each group of singles. For example, if you have several single parents in your group, provide childcare during meetings or outings. If you find yourself with older singles, perhaps some people whose mobility is limited, consider developing a transportation or carpool service. The special attention you pay to the different groups will allow them more thoroughly to participate in and enjoy your group. Here are some ways to begin:

1. Create a singles leadership position.
If you are serious about creating singles' ministries, a staff position with responsibility for this area will demonstrate your church's commitment. The leader need not be single but should be spiritually grounded, able to respond to pastoral needs and have excellent communication and organizational skills.

2. Balance your activities.
Create and encourage singles-only activities, but don't stop there. Be sure to integrate singles into the general church population. Help them to feel part of the church as a whole and to contribute alongside other members.

3. Consider offering supplemental small groups.
One singles group for everyone may be easiest, but consider creating sub-groups based on age or type of single. Those in the 18-29 age bracket are at a different stage of life and likely to have different interests than those who are age 50 or older. The perspectives of formerly married and never-married singles may be quite different. Acknowledging these differences will help participants identify with their peers and grow your ministry.

4. Plan social events.
Singles' ministries can offer individuals the chance to work together on projects, to gather for social activities like movie night or bowling, or simply to carpool to worship and other church activities. Post event information on a singles' ministries area of your website. If your church has a Facebook page, post information there.

5. Offer outreach events.
Singles' ministries should incorporate outreach. Consider offering meals to the homeless, visiting the sick at a hospital or hosting a community movie night. You also can welcome new singles to the community by sending welcome baskets with an invitation to a church service or event.

6. Start a singles Sunday school class or Bible study.
Tackle "single" issues, such as divorce, relationships and loneliness, from a biblical perspective. Discussing these issues in a safe setting with others who are in the same stage of life is more comfortable for many singles than is talking about them in a more diverse group.

7. Avoid matchmaking.
Don't pressure participants to pair up. Focus on teaching them how to lead a healthy, happy Christian life, regardless of whether they have a partner or not. Let them find their own love-even if it happens to be within the ministry.

8. Don't forget related support.
Your singles group could be the next step for someone who has participated in a divorce-recovery program or dealt with the grief following a spouse's death. Consider collaborating with another congregation to provide support services. Many resources are available online through the General Board of Discipleship.