Ministry is Messy by Kris Swiatocho, Director
A friend recently reminded me of something that I have often said: “Ministry can be very messy because the ministry has people in it.” My good friend and advisor, Pastor Freddy Johnson, used to say, “Kris, I would like to find a pastor position without having to deal with people...so that it would be...well...easy!” When he would say this, we would laugh because that position doesn't exist. If you are going to do any kind of work where people are involved, it will be challenging.
So then, as a Pastor or staff, how do you keep from wanting to quit and change careers? How do you keep from quitting as a lay leader or a volunteer? How do you prevent your frustration with people from affecting your work, calling, and ministry? Here are some practical alternatives to consider:
1. Learn the skill of not responding to people when you first feel attacked, bothered, or aggravated. Listen, affirm that you are listening, and then pray for how God would have you respond. Sometimes people just want to be heard be validated. Sometimes the Lord may tell you to say nothing at all.
2. Pray ahead of time for the more challenging people, knowing you will have to work with them, minister alongside them, etc. Pray, ask the Lord to show you how to handle things, communicate, and respond so that you build bridges rather than walls.
3. Confirm that when the Lord does tell you to say nothing, affirm whether it's for that moment or forever. There are people that God will take out of your life and vice versa (for His purpose) as you go about His work. Also, not every battle is your battle. You could be brought into a situation that is someone else's to deal with. Allow the other person to hear from God and then offer your support as needed. Ultimately, the battle belongs to the Lord anyway.
4. Learn how to handle the “messy.” Maybe it's taking baby steps in dealing with the situation; perhaps you need to get additional advice or support; maybe you need to put boundaries in place. Perhaps God has placed you in the situation to grow and prepare you for the even more significant challenges that are coming.
The bottom line is that ministry is messy. Still, maybe God has chosen you to help declutter, to add organization and clarity--pointing everyone and everything to Christ because He’s truly the only one who can clean it up and keep it clean!
1 Cor 14:40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Ephesians 4:1-7 I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Starting a Singles Ministry with Intentional Relationship for Singles Bible Study
Pictured: Trinity COG, Burlington, NC Singles Ministry
Recently two pastors wanted help in starting a singles ministry. I spent a considerable amount of time with both, going through the steps, reminding them about my free outlines (How to Start and Leadership 101), as well as a series of videos.
Both pastors returned a long sigh, realizing that to start a singles ministry takes a lot of time and patience. It requires building a team. I could tell they wanted a more straightforward way. Then both pastors asked me about our new study, Intentional Relationships for Singles. A 12-week study, designed similar to Divorce Care and Griefshare, in that it does not have to have a teacher but a facilitator. Depending on how many are in the class, you would need some small group leaders for the group discussion. But unlike those studies, we are video supported, not driven. We know that single adults want to talk. They desire to meet each other and build community.
Both pastors sighed with relief because they already offer Divorce Care and Griefshare and were familiar with what kind of facilitator and small group discussion leaders they would need. They knew of the time it would take to start and maintain.
I would also remind them that starting Intentional Relationships is one way to start a singles ministry, grow an existing one, and increase the overall growth of the church by maturity, tithes, and service. Both Pastor's smiled, knowing this was something that could be done. It was a way, a start that could eventually be a ministry--meeting the needs of single and young adults in their church.
So, as a result of this conversation, I decided to make some changes to my home page, giving leaders and pastors very specific steps on how to start, including using the Intentional study.
So, if you want to start a singles ministry, restart or grow an existing one, start with Intentional Relationships for Singles, a study helping singles get healthy in all their relationships, family, friends, work, and romance, beginning with God. A study to grow your church. A study that changes lives, one single at a time.
Note: For groups starting or wanting to grow, don't forget about "Leaders That Last" Curriculum by Kris Swiatocho. A great 6-week study/training that will take your leadership from the basics of their calling into singles ministry to building the team. Also a great additional resource is FAQ's of Singles Ministry, co-authored with Dennis Franck. Over 100 questions answered by 50 plus leaders and pastors.
About Pray for a Mate™...In my 25 years of ministering to single adults, I have found one major thing common to 99.9% of them—the desire to be married or married again. From conferences to retreats, articles and interviews, the subject continuously comes up.
I hear questions like:
“Do you think I am meant to be married?”
“Is there such a thing as ‘the one’?”
“Why hasn’t God brought me the man/woman of my dreams?”
As with all of these questions, I can only send them to the one source who knows the answers and that is Jesus Christ. But saying this doesn’t always communicate to an action or a direction.
Okay, so you go to the Lord but then what? Well, they would say they have gone to the Lord but what I found was they would gripe, cry and fuss at Him. Few were serious in their purpose when it came to praying. Few were serious when it came to listening and as a result, changing.
THE CHURCH AND SINGLENESS
For the last two decades, I and many of my fellow ministers to singles have seen the decline of the church’s efforts to minister to single adults. While the singles population is now over 52 percent in the United States, with most being never-marrieds, churches are not making the effort to the reach us. The focus more than ever seems to be on the family.
But what churches don’t understand is the family starts with two single adults. If the church would spend time reaching singles, helping them in their identity in Christ, in their personal growth and developing healthy friendships, as well as by offering Bible studies and counseling for marriage, then the greater success of our future marriages and families will be.
We can’t keep hiding behind youth programs and a pro-family focus and hope healthy marriages will just happen. The church needs to help single adults meet each other in a healthy way, directing them toward godly friendships and teaching them the principles of courtship and marriage preparation. Otherwise, they will find other ways to find a spouse, often outside the church and, possibly, with someone who isn’t a believer.
Although not all single adults will get married, many due to their own fears and issues, I do believe in marriage and I believe God still brings people together. With that in mind, I have been praying for a solution to bring singles ministry back into the church.
Singles ministry in general takes a lot of work. You have to build a team of leaders, offer training, meet regularly, plan, pray, and do. Because of the work involved and due to so many pastors being fearful that members might “hook-up,” churches have stopped having a singles ministry.
Also, we are still seeing more women than men in church. As a result, most singles ministries are started by women. Unfortunately, groups led solely by women only grow other women. The team has to include men. Without this pairing of the sexes, your ministry will often fail. In addition, we are seeing a lot of singles ministries focused on social events rather than on teaching the Word of God.
Another problem comes when leaders who don’t find a team to share the responsibilities with gets burned out, resulting in a failed ministry.
So, what do we do? How do we bring a singles ministry back into the church and have it be successful? And how can we do it if we are limited in finding men to help? What about resources and support?
SOLUTION: Pray for a Mate™
While spending time in the United Kingdom doing ministry, I came upon a wonderful lady who shared with me something amazing. She had gone to her pastor and asked about doing a singles ministry at her church. Again, due to past experiences of what singles ministries could become, he said no. She then prayed and went back and asked if she could have a “prayer group for those who wanted to be married.” (Remember, 99.9 percent of all singles want to be married—maybe not this minute but eventually). She didn’t say anything about singles or ministry, but she did use two key words that most churches care about: marriage and prayer. They agreed and even offered her the space to meet.
She quickly gathered her team of friends—some married and some single—and they started meeting to pray, not sure what God would do. That small group turned into a larger one and before long they were meeting each month. From the start they only allowed women to come as they had enough men. They also created a structure that appealed mainly to serious prayer warriors.
The results were amazing. They saw lives changed, individuals found healing, some developed amazing friendships and others even got married. It’s now been over year and they are up to eighty men and eighty women. And it hit me—with a few slight changes, this could work in the U.S.
I realize not all singles would want to come to church to pray for a mate. Some might even get upset if this was the only activity their church offered singles. But if a church only has this, it’s still better than nothing. This program has the potential to lead to something. It’s certainly worth trying and making the investment. And the result? Healthier people who become healthier followers of Christ.
How to get started!
1. Go to our contact page and fill out the registration form.
3. Once we receive your registration, you will be given a password to access the other pages where you will learn how Pray for a Mate™ works including the structure and the prayer themes.
For a long list of leadership resources by Kris Swiatocho and other authors, click here.
Leaders That Last Curriculum
• Leaders that Last is 6 weeks, 6 topics Curriculum:
The first 3 weeks that are inward focus towards personal development and last 3 weeks that are outward focus towards building and unifying the team.
• Leaders that Last Curriculum includes:
A trainers guide with additional questions, icebreaker ideas, small group discussion, and weekly assignments, etc. plus participants outline.
• Leaders that Last Curriculum is a:
Microsoft word document so you can alter to fit your specific group whether young adult, single adult or single parent, divorced or widowed.
Week 1: Who You Are in Christ
Week 2: Affirming Your Calling as a Leader
Week 3: Spiritual Warfare
Week 4: Mentoring/Finding others with a Similar Calling
Week 5: Building the Team
Week 6: Caring for the Team.
Week 1: Who Am I?
Description: Everything starts and ends with a great team but a team starts with a great leader. A great leader should know who they are in Christ first in order to lead others. This leader also should have a personal, growing relationship with Christ. This lesson will focus on your identity, your personal growth in your faith, and your walk with the Lord.
Week 2: Who Ya Going to Call?
Description: Learning and affirming your calling to be a leader. Most maturing Christians are serving the Lord but often in the wrong area, this lesson will help you focus on the right area God is calling you into.
Week 3: The Devil Made Me Do It!
Description: This lesson focuses on how to recognize the enemy’s attacks on you, your team, and your ministry, and what to do when it does happen.
Week 4: Making Copies!
Description: This lesson focuses on the importance of recognizing potential leaders by starting with those who are voluntold versus volunteers.
Week 5: There’s No “I” in Team
Description: Everything falls and rises on leadership. Without a great team that is unified in the path to reach the goals God has put in place, leadership will fail. This lesson will focus on how to build a team that builds the ministry.
Week 6: Are You a Care Bear?
Description: This lesson focuses on how to keep our team, our leaders, and, ultimately, our ministry going and growing.
Kris holds a singles retreat every September up in the mountains and I’ve attended the last 4 years. The 3rd year, Sept 2018 I came for the leadership portion of the meeting and was inspired by the teaching, many years of experience working with singles, messages shared, stories from other church leaders and resources galore at the meeting and on the website. I left that weekend fired up and it sparked me to start a singles focused bible study at our church which has been running a year now and doing great... I have so many stories I could share... many new visitors/members... connecting with singles in the church that weren’t plugged in.. networking with other Christian groups and churches... things just continue to spiral... we held a singles NYE celebration a few weeks ago. The owner of The Barn Dance (non-alcoholic club) that some of us go to often came. His club was only open on sat night BUT... he was inspired by the number we had at our dance and the amazing community... he had no idea that singles have that much of a need/want to be together. SO tonight he hosted his first Christian Singles Dance Party at The Barn Dance and it was a big hit. Planning to do a monthly dance there... opening with prayer and ending with praise songs and prayer. I can’t wait to see what God has for us in 2020. Also very excited about this years Singles Retreat! Find info on thesinglesnetwork.org and come join us Thanks Kris for all you do... for your heart for God and singles.
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638 Spartanburg Hwy Ste 70-113
Hendersonville, NC 28792 • 919.434.3611 Kris@TheSinglesNetwork.org
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