How to Talk about Marriage Without Alienating Singles
I tend to tune out when it comes to a marriage series. Yes, there are things I can learn for when I’m married, but overall I don’t really listen during those series.
I think most churches, overall, don’t speak to singles very well. Not because they don’t try to, but because most of the topics single people are interested in hearing a lot of times may come across as taboo, or are too specific to be addressed to the entire congregation.
Recently, we talked to a group of singles about how they felt the church met their needs. The above remarks are a few of the things we heard.
This raises a great question. How can pastors talk about marriage and relationships without alienating singles? We looked at what singles had to say and here’s a few tips we came up with.
- Acknowledge and Engage Singles in the Conversation
A good way to preface your series is by immediately addressing the elephant in the room. “You may not be married yet, but these principles apply to all relationships…”
Truly mean what you say. When applying a particular text, make sure you include action steps for married and single individuals. Before I was married, I learned about the Five Love Languages in a sermon. Honestly, it helped me to date better. It might have even helped me win my wife’s heart.
- Layer Your Illustrations
Use single/non-marriage related illustrations in your messages. Often, during a series on relationships, pastors will only tells stories about married life. Unknowingly, they alient half of the congregation. Share a personal story of when you were single. Or, share a story from someone else’s life (make sure to get permission).
- Address the Singles
I’ve heard preachers acknowledge singles at the beginning of their messages and then never speak directly to them again. Make sure you are giving a considerable amount of application time to single individuals.
- Define the Anchor Point
Don’t just teach people how to be better spouses, teach them about the one who makes them good to begin with. The anchor point of anyone’s life—single or not—should be Jesus.
Marriage isn’t the destination. One doesn’t arrive when they enter into marriage. God knows married people have just as many problems as unmarried people. When we realize this, our relationships will begin to flourish because we won’t look to them as the padlock to our identity.
- Imagine the Fringe
There are people in your congregation who have experienced divorce, a string of bad relationships, and the death of spouse. Imagine how these individuals will internalize your messages. Could your approach be offensive? Hurtful? Have you been married for so long that you have forgotten what it is like to be single? Empathy goes a long way.
- Talk to Singles
Ask their opinion. Ask them what they would like to hear from a series on relationships and marriage. You just might be surprised by what you hear.
What are some others ways you address the issue of relationships in your church?
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