How Can Unmarried Christians Bless the Church?

Written by: Angela O'Neill
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When I was unmarried, I like many single Christian adults wrestled my way through this question. In fact, grappling with this question is a huge part of my story and played a large part in God calling me to ministry.

I went to a college where there was a high percentage of “ring by spring” engagements. That time in school came and went with no marriage for me. From there I decided that I would be married at 25, kids at 30, house, dog, picket fence—check, check, check.

It didn’t work out that way. I decided then that God probably needed my help, so I made a list of what I wanted in my future spouse. There were a lot of “I” statements in that list. In that time I dated those I thought met my requirements, but only found heart ache.

I saw many friends get married and the weight of the desire began to get heavier and heavier. 25 came and went, then 26, 27, 28… Fast forward to 30, when my contract with God stipulated that I should be having kids by now.

I started to wonder what was wrong with me? Why can’t this happen for me? What am I doing wrong?

At at 33 I did finally marry my amazing husband, and I love the partnership we can share in ministry. However, the fact of the matter is, that ministry did not start then, it only took on new, beautiful elements.

Marriage is not a prerequisite for ministry.

So today, before we go any further, I want to first say this to everyone reading, even without a spouse you are a complete person, made in the image of God, and YOU HAVE A PURPOSE. Whether married or single, young or old, male or female, rich or poor, YOU HAVE A PURPOSE.

Our impact and ministry for the kingdom of God does not start when we get married, nor when we are older, nor when we have more figured out, nor when we fill in the blank. Each day is a day we can choose to live on purpose for the kingdom of God.

If you are unmarried reading this, I hope that you find encouragement in a society (and sometimes Church) that is romantically obsessed. If you are married and reading this, perhaps this will give you some ideas in how to encourage a friend this week.

Singles in Scripture

There are many examples in Scripture of those who are single doing amazing things for God and his kingdom. Stop and think of all of the people in scripture who were unmarried, yet lived dynamic lives for God. Here are just a few of those people.

  • Joseph (Genesis 37 – 50) dreamed big dreams as a child, went through many trials, but continued to live on purpose, avoiding temptation and sin and living with great integrity. Eventually his dreams came true.
  • Daniel (the book of Daniel) lived a life for God in a land that did not worship His God. He remained faithful no matter what, and had a great influence on the king and the people, in a difficult time while Israel was in exile in Babylon.
  • Ruth (the book of Ruth) has a beautiful story of care and faithfulness. Though she did eventually remarry, most of Ruth’s story found in scripture focuses on how a young widowed woman did not give up, cared for her mother-in-law, and was a source of hope when hope seemed lost.
  • Anna (Luke 2:36-38) is an often forgotten prophet during the time of Jesus who was widowed only seven years into marriage and never remarried. Instead she committed her life to worshipping God and even prophesied over Jesus as a child in the temple, sharing the good news with all who were there to hear.
  • Jesus (the Gospels) of course Jesus himself lived a life of singleness and models for us how such a life can be fully devoted to God. In this way we can imitate Jesus in our singleness and allow devotion to our Heavenly Father to be our primary concern.

It is clear, then, that being married is not a requirement to live a full life of purpose with God. And Paul even talks about singleness as a gift. (See 1 Corinthians 7:7)

So how exactly can unmarried Christians bless the Church? Here are just a few heartfelt answers to that question.

Live Your Purpose Each Day

Do you know that God has a purpose for you even today? And he is not sitting around waiting for you to be married, so that he can finally help you live your purpose. Ask yourself: What am I passionate about? What dreams has God placed on my heart? What can I try now that I may not be able to later?

Remember each day is an opportunity to live on purpose. Allow yourself to dream big dreams and live out your purpose whether married or not!

Joseph had a dream as a boy, and he remained faithful even though God did not bring about the realization of that dream for many dark and difficult years. And in the midst of it all God was still using Joseph to bless others and bring about good.

So use your giftings to bless the church and those around you. Embrace the ability to volunteer places, go on faith adventures, and say “Yes!” to unique opportunities in front of you. Invest in amazing friendships and follow the Spirit’s lead in how you are uniquely able to love your sisters and brothers in Christ.

Move Forward in Ministry

It is also important to note that singles can bless the Church simply by allowing God to help them grow and move forward in ministry. Similar to living your purpose each day, Jesus is not waiting until you are married to help you grow as his follower.

Sometimes the labels we embrace for ourselves—“single” for instance—can make it hard to move forward and allow ourselves to grow. With the examples from the Bible stories above, we could create quite the list: slave, foreigner, captive, widow, prisoner, barren, and of course single.

But the beauty is that none of these words kept these individuals from moving forward in their ministry. That slave would go on to be second in command of the worlds strongest nation. That captive foreigner would take a high place of honor, having an impact on the kings of the land and using his gifts to help point people to the one true God. That life long widow remained faithful, and was one of the first people to share the good news about Jesus.

They did not let words hold them back from growing and embracing the ministry God planned for them.

Know Where Your Identity Comes From

Finally, one of the best ways those who are unmarried can bless the Church is to know where your identity comes from—and remind others of that truth as well.

As followers of Jesus, all of our identities are to be found in Christ, not in our relationship status. Just like the above characters from the Bible, we can live each day secure in that identity or we can allow the lies of romantic obsession to rule in our hearts and minds.

This also serves as a reminder to the rest of the Church that none of us are to find our identities in romantic relationships. Perhaps this single subject can be a reminder to us all, whatever stage life has us in at the moment, that our identity rests in Christ, and each day is a new day to live a life on mission for the kingdom.

In so many ways this is a letter to my younger self—to remind her of her inherent, God-given value and the purpose that God had for her life EVEN IF SHE WAS NEVER TO GET MARRIED.

I hope this can be a small encouragement to us all, both single and married. No matter your marital status, you are a complete person, made in the image of God, and YOU HAVE A PURPOSE.