Monday, January 09, 2006

Singles Fellowship?

I have begun discussions with a handful of singles about what a singles fellowship might look like. I value everyone's input, so please send comments through the Comments section or email me. We are discussing, by the way, what a singles fellowship for people age 35 and older may look like. I would welcome thoughts for under age 35 as well.

This is an idea only in discussion. No decisions have been made by the church leadership, nor have I been directed to come up with something. This is an issue brought to me the past year by different people and I value open discussion. Look forward to hearing from you.


Anonymous JohnV said...

For what it's worth, as I've been on duty in the Narthex, I have had several people that are either visiting to find a church home or are new to the area ask about a Singles fellowship.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Chuck Boyce said...

If I had any free time I'd probably use it for the IT Committee and address the overdue committments I have there, BUT, having said that - I did come to Tenth initially because of Tenth's Single's fellowship that existed at the time. I'm sure there are others in that place in their life now, so I think it's a good idea.

Just my 2¢

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most effective single's ministry to those 35+ is best rightly directed to godly living. Such direction is guided toward God's best for our own perception to God's best.

What God desires to be joined together will never be frustarated. God is faithful!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous lmsalim said...

this is a really sensitive issue that we must be address with carefullness. i personally have very strong feelings on the topic (which i'll share more fully and thoughtfully soon.)

what comes to mind immediately is 'why' before 'how'.

as in the creation of any ministry, we need to think fundamentally about what the need is.

i'd like to hear from others the reason for creating such a fellowship before moving to talk about what it might look like.

4:04 AM  
Blogger Joe Brydges said...

To those who posted comments previously thanks for the thoughts. I agree with Imsalim that we need to explore why such a ministry before we address the question of how. this is a sensitive area of ministry and we need to proceed with care. I have heard several negative comments about our previous single fellowships such as City Light and before that Koinonia. Will post more when time permits.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Ryia said...

Well, I'm ten years too young, but here are two needs a singles ministry could fill.

1. Integration into the body. Without a singles ministry it's hard to find a place in church. And personally, for women without obvious church ministry gifts such as teaching, encouragment, mercy etc finding a way to serve is discouraging. Singles are an underutilized resource.
2. Encouragement. Although singles have more time and concentration to spend on ministry, if there are problems who is the “family” to pick up the pieces and help us get back into ministry. A singles group could try, intentionally, to meet that need.

It is sad to see singles rattling around unsure of their place in the church. There are singles who are not inspired to serve, are too discouraged to serve, or don’t have a venue to serve. I think an effective ministry could remedy this. However, most singles ministries fail because they fall back into a social gathering for people who aren’t married. It needs to be focused on specific larger-church ministry goals.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Chuck Boyce said...

I think a Singles Fellowship may be one of those things that just won't work nowadays in a church - particualrly for adults. I recently purchased the new Barna book Revolution (ironically, because I heard about it from the Reformation 21 blog). I don't agree with where Barna goes with all of the trends he observes, but I think he has some valid points and he's spot on with the trends themselves. Not everything "fits" within the way church traditionally gets done. I mean singles can have fellowship independent of an official ministry, right? Demographic trends now show singles as approaching the "norm" for adults, for better or (almost definitely) worse, in society. Should a church have a "ministry" for such a large population of society? I really don't know. I could be persuaded either way.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Karl Russo said...

We have several ministries that address the needs of singles. There is the Sunday morning worship service, choir, men's choir (for half of them), the nursing home ministry, Angel Tree, Nursery, Schola, Sunday School, ACTS tutoring, blood drive, Maranatha, small groups, Nehemiah Project, ..... Incidentally, I think these are the appropriate specific ministries for young married couples without kids, or older married couples with kids, or yet older married couples with married kids, etc.

I think it can be unhealthy to divide the church along demographic lines. We all need each other. Moreover, we cannot have the older men and women teaching the younger men and women if we are all separated by distinct ministries for each group. Children, singles, married couples, widow(er)s all have spiritual gifts that others in the church need to benefit from. For those wishing to meet a spouse, one of the best ways to do that is by serving together in a ministry together (sing in choir, attend the same bible study, both volunteer in the nursery, witness to your neighbors over dinner...). For others gifted with singleness, the Bible seems to make clear that this giftedness is for the purpose of service to the church. What better way to do this, then, than to supply the human resources required for a healthy functioning body? This will serve for mutual encouragement, spiritual growth, integration into the body, etc.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Ryia said...

Good Comments Karl.

I think that illustrates exactly why there should be say a singles fellowship (social time) or singles bible studies etc.

But I really think that singles are not serving to full capacity due to integration and support reasons. I think a singles ministry might not appear on the calendar of events, but ought to appear in the resources Tenth offers to members.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Chuck Boyce said...

Maybe try something just very simple. Here are some ideas (in no particular order, I'm just brain storming):

have a movie night followed by an intentional Tenth staff moderated discussion afterwards (sort of stealing this idea from the session notes Marion has shared here from past years).

a blog? (way outside the box on this one. :-) where is that box? lost...)

Sunday School class

scheduled dinners

scheduled service events

(stole the last two off Redeemer's web site)

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like the comments thus far mix 3 perspectives:
1. singles ministry interpreted as a function to know and meet the needs of those who are single,
2. ministries able to be performed BY singles,
3. singles fellowship, interpreted to be a more casual, social outreach to singles as a group.

I agree with defining what exactly is meant by a singles “ministry” before proceeding but why limit it to just one option – why not look at all of the 3 above

1:52 PM  
Blogger Joe Brydges said...

I'd like to hear some thoughts from the former city light leadership team or twenty something members. Perhaps an ad hoc committee can be formed to brainstorm on how and if we should proceed.
I agree with Karl's comments posted earlier.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Chuck Boyce said...

Hey Joe,

I was on the leadership of City Light, so you already have my comments on this blog.

Unfortunately, I have no time for a committee or even a Singles Fellowship. I'd be happy if I could simply catch up to the deliverables I promised to the IT committee.

Why not get some new ideas? It's always best to let the motivated drive the vision (in my opinion).

I'd be very interested in the ideas and thoughts of those in dialogue with Marion about this.


2:46 PM  
Anonymous Jessie B said...

I have been thinking a great deal about Ryia's comments about people feeling a bit lost -- not knowing where they fit in.

I've been trying to think about whether or not I would have become involved at Tenth (or at my former church) if I hadn't had a connection through a singles group. I'm really not sure. I come from a family where both my mother and father were active in church life - so is the most natural thing in the world to get involved with church ministry.

But for someone who did not have that background, I can see that getting involved would be hard. Particularly if the person is single. At least a couple can try things out together and not feel as vulnerable when stepping out on your own.

It may be that a ministry addressed towards singles may be a valuable way of bridging the gap from being a person in the pew on Sundays to more connection within the ENTIRE body of Christ.

I agree with posters who have expressed concern in creating an exclusive community. But I think there can be ways to address areas of concerns to singles without becoming an exclusive community / weekly activity.

Consider the following as possible ideas for singles.

1) Periodic organized times of teaching on areas important to singles. (The church definitely needs to provide biblical teaching on dating for example - it's something you won't hear about anywhere else.)

2) Periodic organized ways to connect people who want to be connected. (One fun thing City Light used to do was have a "Mystery Dinner" - all you knew was the location of where you were going and what to bring with you for dinner. The mystery was who you were going to be with in a group.)

3) Actually another way to connect people is by encouraging them to do service together. Possibly service activities where singles are especially recruited.

I have found Tenth to be a very "singles friendly" church compared to other churches I have attended. I have not felt that I didn't matter because I wasn't connected to another person (husband) or persons (kids).

But that being said, I think it is important for ministry leaders to consciously think about how to get people involved (single or married). It's easy to think about asking only the people who are already serving to do new tasks. It's much more work to find new people, but important to do. I asked a woman to help with something very simple once and she was so excited to be asked to serve. I'm sure there are many like her who would like to be involved, but don't know where to begin and so continue to watch rather than participate. After reading Ryia's comments, I am going to try to make a conscious effort to ask single women to become involved in things where I can.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

I do think we need something that is for singles, but hope we won't try to re-create the entire church body life for a particular homogenous group.

Perhaps a First Friday Fellowship Night that provides some teaching and then time to meet others.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:

1. There's nothing wrong with a peer ministry. Most of us spend time with peers, and it is in that context that we share our lives and can be challenged and held accountable. I think it would be good to reinstate some peer ministries so people of the same age group can get together to establish a community. There are lots of new faces at Tenth every year, who come from out of town and don't know how else to be plugged in. I know several people who got involved in Tenth because of ministries like 20something.

2. A ministry touted as a "singles" ministry may attract people who aren't interested in growing spiritually and in Christian community as much as they're interested in getting a date. It may make others there uncomfortable. If the peer group were more focused on an age group (e.g., 35 and older, 25-35, etc.), it may make many feel more comfortable. The former 20something was never a singles group (it just happens that several people in 20something happened to be single so it was agregiously, incorrectly labeled). The group existed as a community of similarly aged individuals who could come together and grow spiritually in a community of like-minded believers. Anyone who attended 20something with the specific focus that usually appears in a "singles" ministry, that is, trying to become UNsingle, didn't last very long.

3. If you're going to establish new peer-based ministries (there's definitely a need for young adults who are out of college, new to the area for careers or grad school), make sure you put in charge people who have a heart for that specific type of ministry. It'll be pointless to establish a peer-based ministry if any in charge would rather see a different focus.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Jonathan McCarthy said...

Perhaps the view should not be focused on what the "singles" could be doing in ministry, but more like a nursing home ministry. A ministry that is focused on serving the people that are involved. I don't belive the creation of a nursing home ministry is to see what a church can get from a nursing home, but how to serve the people in that locaction/condition. I think a singles ministry should be the same. How can we indentify the needs of christian singles and how can we serve them.

In that mindset, the biggest joy to my moving to Philadelphia was that there was a demographic of people that were my age, most of them were single, and they wanted to spend time together. Community. I have never had that in my life previously and I think that is a gigantic blessing that could be given to singles here. I can promise (and most others can attest also)that there are millions of other sin-blind groups that would rather have the church's singles demographic spending their moments in life with them rather than at a church.

Now being married out of that demographic, I can not pretend to be an expert of what is needed now.

Take my thoughts as salt for flavor or in the wound, I don't mind.

I also have disliked the term "singles ministry." It has always felt like a meat market, even if it is a christian meat market, it still has an odd feel to it.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Hugh Taylor said...

Joe Brydges asked for comments from former City Light leaders, so here is one.

First, this is obviously a hot topic! The number of comments, their conviction, and their diversity are impressive.

Second, the conviction of the comments shows that this sample of Tenth has deep feelings for or against such a group, and, if for, what its purpose should be.

Third, the diversity of those opinions indicates clearly that, if a group IS formed, its framework will not satisfy all.

That leads to the point I want to make, as a former City Light leader. Congregational talk can be either supportive or not supportive, and the choice between these makes a huge difference to any ministry. So I say, Praise God for all of these opinions in this, the formative phase of what may become a ministry. And, if a ministry is formed and once its direction is determined, lets, "Forever hold our peace." If the decisions are made in good faith and they have the support of the Session, then let's be FOR this group, in prayer, encouragement and conversation.

12:55 PM  

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