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Thoughts on small groups for singles?

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  • Thoughts on small groups for singles?

    So, now that I've finished with graduate school I have more time on my hands. I've been discussing how I want to be more involved in church with one of our pastors, and we've had several discussions about how we don't have any sort of ministry going for single adults. Our young adult ministry is in a transition phase after a leadership change, and we have a large and active ministry for college-age people. But we currently have nothing for single adults beyond the college age. As a single man in my 30s, this is a group that I can identify with. I'm praying and doing some research to consider what a ministry for singles should look like in our church. If I start such a group, I want to complement the services our other ministries offer rather than duplicate efforts. Specifically, I want to focus on community-building among singles in the church. In other words, this would be a ministry TO singles, not a ministry done BY singles. Also, I don't envision this as a sort of matching service for trying to get singles married -- I mean that, if people met and marry that's great, but not everyone is called to marriage and I don't want the group to pressure people in that regard.

    I'm curious, do any of you have small groups or some sort of ministry focusing on single adults (I'm thinking maybe age 23+)? If so, what does it look like? Are activities segregated by age in any way? Is the group Bible-study focused, or is it more event-driven? All ideas are welcome, as I'm just trying to flesh out my thoughts on all this. Thanks in advance!
    "If you believe, take the first step, it leads to Jesus Christ. If you don't believe, take the first step all the same, for you are bidden to take it. No one wants to know about your faith or unbelief, your orders are to perform the act of obedience on the spot. Then you will find yourself in the situation where faith becomes possible and where faith exists in the true sense of the word." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

  • #2
    We had a VERY successful one several churches back --- like your church, we had a vibrant college ministry, but nothing for singles.

    The guy who built our singles ministry from scratch gave me this advice.

    Start off with small group in somebody's home. In this example, you would be "the facilitator".
    1. The "facilitator" comes up with the idea, and begins recruiting...
    2. Somebody to host in their home - not the facilitator's home
    3. Somebody in charge of refreshments - they don't have to always BRING refreshments, but enlist others who can - not the facilitator or the home host
    4. Somebody to lead a very basic Bible study - different person than 1-3
    5. Somebody to lead a prayer segment - yet another person
    Now you have 5 people to serve as a core group, who can start inviting others.

    In no time, this group grew from 5 to 25, got to about 40 when I left to serve elsewhere.

    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
      We had a VERY successful one several churches back --- like your church, we had a vibrant college ministry, but nothing for singles.

      The guy who built our singles ministry from scratch gave me this advice.

      Start off with small group in somebody's home. In this example, you would be "the facilitator".
      1. The "facilitator" comes up with the idea, and begins recruiting...
      2. Somebody to host in their home - not the facilitator's home
      3. Somebody in charge of refreshments - they don't have to always BRING refreshments, but enlist others who can - not the facilitator or the home host
      4. Somebody to lead a very basic Bible study - different person than 1-3
      5. Somebody to lead a prayer segment - yet another person
      Now you have 5 people to serve as a core group, who can start inviting others.

      In no time, this group grew from 5 to 25, got to about 40 when I left to serve elsewhere.
      Hmm, I like that. I've been upfront with my pastor that if I change jobs (it's still up in the air), then my schedule will be very crazy (as in...there'd be no single day of the week that I'd have off, schedule would rotate completely). So I'd need at least one person to be a co-leader with me to get things started. As he mentioned, typically you want co-leaders to have different skills sets. I'm the academic type, theology nerd that is not really a people person. So I'd be looking for a co-leader that's a people-person/organizer type to help. I think he's got one or two people in mind.

      He mentioned being in a small singles group years ago that had an interesting dynamic. It was singles of all ages, some widowed, some single parents, etc. They had a shared "honey-do" list that they collaborated on to help each other out. Some young guy in his 20s needs some pants hemmed? He adds it to the list, and one of the ladies in the group would help him out. An older widow needs her law mowed? Tag for the guy in his 20s with plenty of free time. I thought that was a pretty interesting, community-building dynamic. Just a group of single people, doing life together, being a community.
      "If you believe, take the first step, it leads to Jesus Christ. If you don't believe, take the first step all the same, for you are bidden to take it. No one wants to know about your faith or unbelief, your orders are to perform the act of obedience on the spot. Then you will find yourself in the situation where faith becomes possible and where faith exists in the true sense of the word." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by myth View Post

        Hmm, I like that. I've been upfront with my pastor that if I change jobs (it's still up in the air), then my schedule will be very crazy (as in...there'd be no single day of the week that I'd have off, schedule would rotate completely). So I'd need at least one person to be a co-leader with me to get things started. As he mentioned, typically you want co-leaders to have different skills sets. I'm the academic type, theology nerd that is not really a people person. So I'd be looking for a co-leader that's a people-person/organizer type to help. I think he's got one or two people in mind.

        He mentioned being in a small singles group years ago that had an interesting dynamic. It was singles of all ages, some widowed, some single parents, etc. They had a shared "honey-do" list that they collaborated on to help each other out. Some young guy in his 20s needs some pants hemmed? He adds it to the list, and one of the ladies in the group would help him out. An older widow needs her law mowed? Tag for the guy in his 20s with plenty of free time. I thought that was a pretty interesting, community-building dynamic. Just a group of single people, doing life together, being a community.
        As you, no doubt, figured out - what's important is that you start with a core group with "buy in" - each has a job, so they're more likely to be there, and encourage others. And, yeah, while I'm always against "co-leader" in a formal sense, this is not that, and should work well.

        I'll be praying for you, as I think God must be putting you up to this.
        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

        Comment


        • #5
          It's been a long time since I've been involved in a single's ministry or for that matter been a member of a church that had one. I commend you for stepping up in your church to get one started.

          The one single's ministry I was a member of was event driven. It didn't last very long as the two leaders were dating. I'm ok with being event driven but I suspect you won't build community that way. On the other hand, the local NFL team has a great fan-base that comes together for needs so maybe event driven is possible. I suspect they built community from all the tailgating before the games.

          Now the best group I have belonged to was a mix of singles and married with a wide range of ages. I was one of the singles that attended. At the start, I was also probably the youngest, early 30's to a couple in their 70's or 80's. A couple older teens joined in later. The associate pastor and his wife started it and I think they focused on building community. Yes, I couldn't appreciate their struggles with raising kids. We could connect on being faithful Christians at work and how to serve the community plus being there for each other. The basic format, informally done, was come together, eat, Bible study, prayer time, and then dismissal. For the Bible study, we often got one of those 8, 10, 12 lessons on a topic or book that you can get from a Christian bookstore. Events came later on in the group's life. One female member who had fought cancer for years died during the group's life. I think it helped the widower get through it and pulled us together. Focus on building community!

          The other part was the group did a pot-luck supper instead of just snacks. Yes, it made for some weird meals like the time it was all salad or dessert. The pastor said is something about sharing food together that builds community. I suggest instead of one person being responsible for snacks, everyone should bring something. I've read that people, especially men, feel more connected to something when it costs them some effort or money to attend.

          I hope this helpful. Regardless, I pray that whatever you start is successful.
          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
            It's been a long time since I've been involved in a single's ministry or for that matter been a member of a church that had one. I commend you for stepping up in your church to get one started.

            The one single's ministry I was a member of was event driven. It didn't last very long as the two leaders were dating. I'm ok with being event driven but I suspect you won't build community that way. On the other hand, the local NFL team has a great fan-base that comes together for needs so maybe event driven is possible. I suspect they built community from all the tailgating before the games.

            Now the best group I have belonged to was a mix of singles and married with a wide range of ages. I was one of the singles that attended. At the start, I was also probably the youngest, early 30's to a couple in their 70's or 80's. A couple older teens joined in later. The associate pastor and his wife started it and I think they focused on building community. Yes, I couldn't appreciate their struggles with raising kids. We could connect on being faithful Christians at work and how to serve the community plus being there for each other. The basic format, informally done, was come together, eat, Bible study, prayer time, and then dismissal. For the Bible study, we often got one of those 8, 10, 12 lessons on a topic or book that you can get from a Christian bookstore. Events came later on in the group's life. One female member who had fought cancer for years died during the group's life. I think it helped the widower get through it and pulled us together. Focus on building community!

            The other part was the group did a pot-luck supper instead of just snacks. Yes, it made for some weird meals like the time it was all salad or dessert. The pastor said is something about sharing food together that builds community. I suggest instead of one person being responsible for snacks, everyone should bring something. I've read that people, especially men, feel more connected to something when it costs them some effort or money to attend.

            I hope this helpful. Regardless, I pray that whatever you start is successful.
            Even if I go the event driven route there will be some Bible study involved in some way. I'm only really considering the event driven option because we have a pretty nice small group line-up already and I don't want to pull singles out of other small groups they're already in. Of course, if our scheduling is on point people could totally choose to be involved in more than one small group. And there's no reason it can't be a traditional small group with lots of events, per se. I just want to find the right balance for getting started.
            "If you believe, take the first step, it leads to Jesus Christ. If you don't believe, take the first step all the same, for you are bidden to take it. No one wants to know about your faith or unbelief, your orders are to perform the act of obedience on the spot. Then you will find yourself in the situation where faith becomes possible and where faith exists in the true sense of the word." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

            Comment


            • #7
              After I posted, I wondered how big your church was. Looks like it's a decent size to support a lot of small groups. I hope the new group goes well.
              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                After I posted, I wondered how big your church was. Looks like it's a decent size to support a lot of small groups. I hope the new group goes well.
                I don't know the membership numbers off the top of my head, but we averaged about 800 attending across multiple services on Sundays pre-pandemic. Our numbers are fluctuating because of schedule changes with the latest round of COVID. We only recently started meeting indoors again (had been meeting outside). I think our attendance right now is hovering around 650-700, something like that. That's actually part of what I'm interested in, I'm wondering how big my target audience is of singles within the church. I'd still be interested in doing it if it was 5 people, but it'll be good to know how many to plan for.
                "If you believe, take the first step, it leads to Jesus Christ. If you don't believe, take the first step all the same, for you are bidden to take it. No one wants to know about your faith or unbelief, your orders are to perform the act of obedience on the spot. Then you will find yourself in the situation where faith becomes possible and where faith exists in the true sense of the word." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

                Comment

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