Sermons on singleness? – Count me out!

Sermons on singleness

Whilst I was exhibiting at the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) last year (2007), I was very surprised to hear many of the clergy I met say that they had very few single people in their congregations. Singleness was not a problem in their parish. They told me that their churches are full of married couples, families and the elderly and very few single people. As a result few of them thought there was any need to give time to the issues of singleness from the pulpit. A sermon on singleness would not be relevant for the majority of listeners!  But actually this issue may be far more relevant to your congregation than you are aware of. Read on for why there are compelling reasons why this issue should be given a space in your sermon schedule.

Because of the nature of my job running friendsfirst I have the privilege of many people opening up to me about the big issues in their lives. Recently I had lunch with a lovely couple from church who have three children – one of whom is unmarried. It soon transpired they were very worried about this child – or rather worried about her singe state. They just didn’t know how to help, or what they could do to help – and in fact were terribly nervous about stepping on any toes and to be seen to be interfering.  We had a good chat and I encouraged them to be proactive in helping their daughter find a life partner – using their contacts and friends children as a starting point. I used some of the principles from Debbie Maken’s book (Getting Serious about marriage – Rethinking the gift of singleness) and their feedback to me indicated that I was giving them useful and practical suggestions.

I don’t think this couple are so unusual. Most married people know someone in the same boat – either a family member or friend and they don’t know what to do to help. A sermon from you on singleness with ways they can help could be just what they want.

Then there are people struggling with being separated or divorced. Inevitably these people carry around huge burdens of guilt about their situation whatever the circumstances. They often feel church hasn’t helped them at all, yet they too need help.

What about widows and widowers? There are lots of them in most congregations. So often we think they’ve had their lot and because they are now ‘old’ or were so happily married, they wouldn’t want to marry again. However that is seldom what I hear on the telephone from the many people who ring us or from the widow/ers I meet in my daily life.

And then of course there are the single men and women who’ve never married. Very few are in fact called to a life to singleness – most are hoping and perhaps secretly seeking to find their soul mate. Others are forever looking for Mr or Mrs Perfect (Deadly Relationship sin No. 3) and don’t realise what all married people soon find out – that that person doesn’t exist and they shouldn’t hold out for him or her. Words of clerical wisdom and encouragement are much needed for this group.

So, all in all, whatever your congregation is like, don’t dismiss the issue of singleness just because your church isn’t packed with young single people. As I hope you can see, whoever they are, singleness is an issue in our society and it will therefore be affecting your congregation and your community. Please give some of your pulpit time to it?

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