This Could Be The Problem With Your Church’s Singles Ministry
For many churches members around the world, it may be easier to find your future spouse in a bar rather than a singles ministry.
Kris Swiatocho, the director of From His Hands Ministries and The Singles Network Ministries, is explaining why. In a conversation on the Right to R.E.A.L. Love podcast this week, Swiatocho shared her insight with host Jay Mayo about some of the issues that exist within singles ministries.
According to Swiatocho who has worked in ministry for 25 years and authored books like Jesus, Single Like Me, adults in their 30s may be having a hard time fitting into a singles ministry with people who are a lot older and younger than them.
“A 33 year old does not want to hang out with their mom and dad or their grandparents. So what happens is the older singles will come because most older singles typically are much better at forming their little groups of friends,” she shared. “Then that 33, 34, 40-year-old comes into that classroom or comes into that small group or ministry and they see there are people there that are not their age so they stop coming. So what we have is this huge gap.”
Swiatocho has done contract work for megachurches throughout the years and said even in places of worship with large congregations, adults in their 30s have a hard time finding an age group to identify with since people in their young 20s don’t always relate to their current life circumstances.
“Where is that 30 to mid 40s? Well, most of them are in the bars,” she said. “Most of them are not going anywhere and most of them are online dating. That’s where they are.”
When churches have a hard time engaging this demographic for their singles ministries, Swiatocho said many of them begin to focus on older singles.
“A lot of churches go, ‘who do we target and how do we reach them?’ So if they go after the 30s and 40s [people] it’s hard to reach them because they come back to church to only find that the singles ministry is only five people,” she said. “So the church says we’re not going to reach those, we’ll go to the older singles.”
Swiatocho revealed that most singles are interested in community, someone to marry and ways to work through their loneliness. While some churches shun the idea that some people go to church looking for a spouse, Swiatocho said she doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
“Even though some singles come into the church for the wrong reasons, people came to Jesus to feed them and to heal them. And Jesus used food and he used healing to get to their heart,” she said. “So singles come into church looking for a date and I always want to tell people why is that wrong?”
Still, she does recognize the importance of being cautious when it comes to focusing solely on dating in church.
“You need to take the time to find out what’s here. The church draws a lot of people that are not healthy, and that’s why they’re here,” she said. “A lot of them are getting healthy. We want you to take the time to build friendships.”
While some singles ministries may have a lot of work to do to engage under utilized demographics in their church, Swiatocho said it is important that pastors also don’t lose focus on their value.
“I would say from the pulpit I need my pastor to let me know that he needs me. When he never preaches and never includes singleness in his examples [and] all of his stories focus on marriage, all you’re saying is that I’m not valuable,” he said. “You don’t have community for me, you don’t have anything to help me prepare to be married, because I’d like to be married maybe, you don’t have anything to help me with my divorce, you don’t have anything to help me with my grief as a widow, than why should I come back?”