“Single people are looking to connect with each other, and build genuine relationships,” explained Tim Keller, pastor of singles and couples at Mariners Church. “As I’ve been researching singles ministries and why they are declining, I’ve found that one of the reasons is the change in what the word ‘single’ has come to signify. Single used to refer to a stage of life, but because of the explosion of online dating, the term now identifies a dating status.”
“Unmarried adults in their 20s and 30s don’t see themselves as single,” Tim continued. “They see themselves as post-college, or establishing their careers, or pre-marriage. There’s a lot more to being single than dating, and young adults are far less likely to define themselves by whether they are married or not. More singles are waiting before getting married, or are choosing to stay single. This obviously has created a shift in what’s needed in the church.”
Tim explained that because the needs and interests of young adults and unmarried individuals in various age groups have changed, he and his team have completely restructured their program, and it is vastly different than the stereotypical singles ministries that emphasize dating and getting married.
The result is called The Point, a weekly gathering that offers age-specific programs, teaching and fellowship for singles and young adults, whether they attend church or not. The meetings are on Thursday nights, and are meant to augment, not replace, the weekend church experience.
“We want people to connect at church, but we also want them to build authentic community at The Point,” Tim said. “We want to help them achieve true deep connection, and avoid false connection, which is what seems to happen in social media. With social media, people come to know a lot of things about each other, but they don’t really know each other. Many people aren’t even aware that they need deeper connections. We want them to truly know, and be known, by each other, and so we’re creating a place where they can feel safe and let down their guard, without fearing rejection.”
“We want them to wrestle with the important issues of life and death, purpose and meaning,” Tim continued. “The Point is a new community where they can be inspired toward personal growth and understanding, a place where they can become who God intended them to be, and a place to process God’s Word through their lives.”
Tim explained that the evenings will begin with large group gatherings geared towards the interests of unmarried adults. Participants will then break into smaller, age-specific groups where they can connect deeper. He said these smaller groups will also plan outside activities and socials to enjoy together, such as hiking, attending concerts or serving in the community together.
“There will also be a strong emphasis on participation in local and global service and volunteer opportunities,” Tim said. “Many people are very passionate about serving and finding a purpose greater than themselves, and they want to reach out and help others, whether it’s helping with some of Mariners outreaches, or feeding the homeless, or they can create their own opportunities.”
Mariners is launching The Point with an Open House in the Upper Room on Thursday September 12 from 7-9 pm. Interested young adults and singles of various ages are invited to an evening with fun, food and a special musical performance by the Pawnshop Kings.
For further information, go to marinerschurch.org/thepoint.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]