I married later than many do... which is to say, I was older than 18. It meant that I got to experience church life for some time as a single, as many pastors do not. I learned some things, developed some thoughts.
For instance, a series lifting out the Bible's teaching to husbands, wives, parents and children would not be uncommon. But a series for singles? Too depressing? Too limited?
An unintended consequence is that many get the impression that the Bible just doesn't have much to say to singles except, well, don't have sex. Which it does say. So we hear that, and that you should pray that God will guide you to That Special One whom God has chosen and prepared for you and expects you to find or you're out of luck for the rest of your life — which, parenthetically, the Bible doesn't say.
This was brought to my mind lately by an unmarried reader who wrote me about sharing part of God's Wisdom in Proverbs with a group of unmarried folks. In page 199, I relate this:
Valerie and I heard a sad story once from a local church. Its women’s group was considering what book to use next for a Bible study. Someone proposed a very good book on being a Christian wife. It was summarily rejected. Why? “We don’t want the unmarried women to feel left out.”In fact, in the book, I practice what I'm suggesting here. There are separate chapters devoted at some length to relationships (Chapter 6), to marriage (Chapter 7), and to raising children (Chapter 8). In studying Proverbs, I don't forget to relate to those who are not yet married, trying to equip them with specific Biblical instruction to help them both in thinking about the whole issue of singleness and marriage, and in approaching the critical process of mate-selection.
My dear wife and I were aghast. What poor reasoning! Those were the very people who might profit most from such a study.
In sum, as Paul ranges across the categories in his instructions and exhortations (cf. 1 Tim. 5:1ff; Titus 2:1ff.), so should the pulpit ministry and the fellowship activities of the local church.
There is a companion-post over at my place today, for singles only. The meta to this post here is open, and I'd particularly like to encourage pastors to share their thoughts or responses to the need to enfold singles in the church's ministry.
Have at it.
UPDATE: partly due to the lively discussion in the meta of the first post Over There, I've added a second post devoted to the subject of Jeffing.