In my last article, “Spock”, I highlighted the recent sociological experiment of singleness in the United States. Current statistics reveal there are now more single adults in the United States than married adults. At the risk of oversimplifying statistical analysis, I decided to take a look at the married to single ratio at Graceway.
If the church, speaking of Graceway, is truly reaching the community, than to some degree the congregation should reflect the community at large. Of course in most churches this is seldom the case. It is said that Sunday morning is still the most segregated day in the United States, a statement most often made in the context of racial segregation. For all the talk in the Bible about community and the gospel’s ability to reach across racial barriers, for all the emphasis on true monotheism (one God, one family of God, one way into the family of God: faith), most churches in the United States continue to operate as tribal entities. This doesn’t even begin to touch on age and gender segregation.
What I like about Graceway is God’s grace in allowing us to experience, to some degree, a multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational church. What do we see when we look at the ratio of married to singles?
A quick perusing of Kansas City metro area statistics revealed that approximately 47-49% of Kansas City residents are married. My point is only that as an urban city, Kansas City mirrors single/married demographics that are reflected nationwide. There are slightly more single adults than married adults.
At Graceway those who give financially to support the ministry and serve in ministry are considered sharers. They share their time, gifts, and financial resources to further God’s Kingdom through the ministry of Graceway.
In 2013 Graceway had 2,126 total sharers. If Graceway reflected the demographics of the culture than approximately 50% of these sharers would be married and 50% would be single. Graceway had 1,464 married sharers in 2013, representing 69% of total sharers. There were 662 single sharers in 2013, representing 31% of the total sharers. Assuming we are somewhat effective of making disciples of married people (I realize that is an assumption) than we only have about 45% of the singles Graceway should have if we were to reflect the community God has given us to reach.
To be fair, this ineffectiveness in reaching singles is not unique to Graceway. Evangelical churches across the country are wrestling with similar results. Graceway is effectively pushing through other glass ceilings with which most other churches still struggle – ethnic, cultural, age, etc. – but we still fall far short when it comes to making disciples of singles.
Statistics usually cause churches to go on an “evangelical campaign.” How can we reach more singles? This often results in cheesy campaigns, new classes, etc. There is a better question: what does our ineffectiveness in reaching and retaining singles say about Graceway? More specifically, what growth opportunities (non-numeric) does God have in store for our church? Just posing the questions can be one of the first steps.