A Single-Minded Church

This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:

There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%). Comparing to the national average, the 2014 U.S. census estimates that more than half of Americans (54%) between the ages of 18 to 49 are single (either never married or divorced). Young adults are also getting married later in life. This means that your church should be filling up at least half of your pews with single people. So what will get them there?

The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). These single Americans say they have emotional pain or frustration they would like to resolve (50%) and that something feels missing from their life (45%). There is a real sense of awareness that they have a spiritual vacuum needing and waiting to be filled, especially among older singles.

In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God. Christians are called not only to be educators of biblical principles, but more importantly, to be disciple-makers. Here is a group of people, willing and ready to follow. How can the church, as the body of Christ, better reach these singles?

I believe we can reach them by imitating what Jesus did with his disciples—by going as a loving community to reach those who are hurt and lonely. One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.

We who are active in and committed to the church—married or not—must come up with better ways to incorporate singles into leadership in the church, better ways to integrate marrieds and singles, and better ways to notice and serve the lonely. The church is not made up of husbands and wives, but sinners and seekers. Therefore, let us call on the entire Church to love better and more effectively through caring for the singles we already know, as well as the ones we don’t.

Joyce Chiu
Barna Group, Research Associate

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