The Singles Experience

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Part 3 of V on Singles Ministry in a Couple’s Culture Church

Do you know how a single person experiences church in a couple’s culture? Have you asked them what their experience is like?

Know Their Story

The experience of singleness is highly variable and subjective. Being single in your 20s is a different experience from being single at 30, 40, 50 or even 70 and beyond. Being single can be a different experience for men and women. There are many variables to how one experiences singleness based on culture, family and social pressures, personal expectations and emotional maturity levels. What it means to be single and the experience of singleness is as varied as there are reasons and circumstances for being single. Understanding these variations can help give some strategies to care for singles. Based on the teachings of Jesus and Paul, plus some observations, we see there are two basic categories of single adults: single by choice or single by circumstance.

Single By Choice

Singleness by choice is the willful and calculated choice not to marry either to fulfill a kingdom calling or for any other personal reason or preference.

Single By Circumstance

Singleness by circumstance is when there are temporary or permanent circumstances that block the desired goal of marriage.

This can be the result of multiple factors such as: suitable mate not found or available, death of spouse, divorce, or unable to marry.

A suitable mate not found could be as a result of geographic situation such as isolation from a source of mates, or for various reasons a good match has not been made, all assuming that one is emotionally capable of fulfilling the marriage commitment.

The death of a spouse is a difficult circumstance that involves the grief of loss of a loved one, a dramatic change in lifestyle and for some, a new parental role. Becoming single through divorce may be much like loss of a spouse through death, but varies because of the reason for divorce and the impact on each individual.

Singleness can be very difficult for those who strongly desire to marry or remarry but are unable to for a variety of reasons. Some are unable to sustain a committed relationship because of emotional or maturity level issues. Some may have a chronic illness or handicap that keeps them from marriage. Additionally, there may be other life issues, family needs and commitments, economic or vocational situations that postpose or supersede marriage.

Singleness by choice or circumstance can be either a temporary state or a permanent state. For instance, one could choose to be single for a specific time in their lives but later find a spouse, or a widow or widower involuntarily experiences singleness but later finds a mate.

For additional resources:

John Stott on Singleness by John Stott and Al Hsu

Single, Satisfied and Sent article by Marshall Segal

Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam

One by One: Welcoming Singles in Your Church by Gina Dalfonzo

Keith Clement and Laura McGee are pastoral counselors at Bridgehaven Counseling Associates, which exists to provide excellent, Christ-centered counseling to individuals, couples, and families in the Raleigh-Durham area. Please contact Keith ( or Laura ( if you would like them to speak to your church or small group on this issue.