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Twelve of us sat around a table discussing how to bring single adults into our church. The thoughts they offered traveled familiar paths:
"We have to reach out to singles."
"Our purpose is not to provide a neighborhood dating service."
"We want to help them understand how the gospel intersects their lives."
"If we can meet their needs, the rest will take care of itself."
That evening, like many before, I found myself reflecting on single adults and how our church can minister to them-more specifically, how we can reach them for Christ and incorporate them into the church.
And minister we must, for we know the statistics: by the year 2000, 51 percent of our adult population will be without marriage partners. If the church is to reach out to the majority of adults in our country, we must find ways to minister to singles.
My exposure to singles ministry began when I created a fellowship group for young adults, married and single. Looking back, I see this ministry took primarily a front-door approach. That is, single adults were initially attracted to our congregation and from their participation in church became involved in young-adult ministries.
Consider Jane: she came to the church because she was already a committed Christian. She wanted to socialize with other singles but also desired to contribute to other church ministries. So she taught children's Sunday school, worked with mission outreach, and financially supported the church. Jane is a front-door entrant.
People who enter through the front door usually support the church's various ministries and become involved in ministries that go beyond single adults.
One problem with the front door, however, is that people who are not familiar with church culture may not feel comfortable becoming involved.
One young woman, an aerobics instructor, had tremendous charisma and energy and was popular with the singles group. However, she thought herself spiritually inferior to the other singles. She was discouraged about her lack ...