The church has to engage and connect with singles. We’ve found this new resource from Gina Dalfonzo to be very helpful for showing the church a way to love, care, and serve singles within the church.
— The Team at GCD
If you’re interested in helping single Christians to integrate more fully into your church — or simply in connecting with your single brother or sister in Christ in ways that will bless and build up both of you — here are some practical steps you can take.
Train yourself to see—really see—the single people in your church. Don’t ignore them as you make a beeline to talk to others who are just like you; don’t glance past them at the family walking or sitting just behind them. Make it a point to look for them and look at them. Practice this at every church service, every Bible study, every worship team or choir practice, every congregational meeting. Pay attention. The more you train your eyes to notice and your mind to recognize that they’re among you and they matter, the more they will matter to you.
Don’t just stop at looking, of course—that would be pointless and a little creepy. When you notice a single person at church, make the effort to go over and talk. And to listen. You’d think the two—talking and listening—would automatically go together, but the truth is they don’t always. Ask questions, and really listen to and consider the answers. Remember that people can tell whether you’re talking just to hear yourself talk or you really want to also hear what they’re saying. Bob and Nancy were friends and mentors to me at my former church. I remember one time when Bob simply said to me, “How are you?” and I froze, lost for words, because I honestly could not remember the last time someone had said that to me in that way—a way that indicated they actually cared how I was. Be that person. Be the person who asks, and cares, and listens.
This is, of course, very closely related to listening, but it goes deeper. To learn, you have to listen with your defenses down, or at least a little lowered. You have to be willing to acknowledge that there are people in your church who are different from you, who have experiences and memories and points of view that may be very different from yours—and that this is okay. We may pay lip service to that idea, but few of us are really comfortable with it when confronted with it head-on. You may feel an overwhelming urge to correct, to override, to corral the conversation and bring it back to where you feel safe. Don’t do it. Resist the urge to react. Even if you feel that you’re hearing something wrong or unfair or naive—and perhaps you are—practice the art of restraint. You can make your points or your arguments another time, perhaps after you’ve gotten to know the person better and established an actual relationship. And bear in mind that, on issues of singleness and marriage, yours is most likely the mainstream point of view in your church. The single person has already heard your point of view from the pulpit and from the congregation and from all over the church, but has anyone heard his or hers? Maybe you’ll be the first. Don’t squander the opportunity.
This is where you take what you’ve learned and put it into practice, both by reaching out in friendship to the single Christians around you and by helping the church incorporate their ideas and meet their needs. This is how you demonstrate the love of Christ for your single brothers and sisters in the church.
I’m not saying it’s easy; it’s not. It takes time and effort and genuine concern for their welfare. Why make that effort? Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Single people in church too often have been relegated to the role of “the least of these.” You can start to change that. In doing so, you can paint a truer picture of Christ, not just for single people but for the church and the world.
Gina Dalfonzo is the editor of BreakPoint.org (website of The Colson Center), as well as an occasional writer for BreakPoint Radio. She is also editor of Dickensblog and a columnist at Christ & Pop Culture. Her writing has been published in The Atlantic, Christianity Today, First Things, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Guideposts, Aleteia, The Stream and OnFaith, among others. She earned her BA in English from Messiah College and her MA, also in English, from George Mason University. Dalfonzo lives in Springfield, Virginia.