Question: It seems many single adult ministries are not attracting the younger single adults (under 35) as much as they used to, and the older age of those attending has risen. Is this true, and if so, what are the reasons for this?
Answer: I think it is true that fewer single adults under 35 want to attend a single adult ministry today, especially those who have never married. 30 years ago, even 18 – 25 year olds had little problem attending a single adult ministry, but that has changed. Most 18- 35 year olds will usually not attend a single adult ministry event. Usually, only the divorced or widowed person under 35 will even consider attending something labeled “single adult.” Most unmarried adults under 30, and some under 35, don’t think of themselves as “single,” just “not married yet.”
Single Now Means Unattached
We must remember the word single in its traditional meaning signifies “unmarried.” Due to cultural changes the last 25 years, however, this has now morphed into “unattached.” You may even hear an unmarried 30 yr. old say, “I’m not single. I’ve been dating a person four months now.” Also, young single adults age 18-30 don’t consider themselves “single” anymore. They might say, “My mother is 54 and divorced; She’s single.”
To see these realities, ask yourself….”What is the percentage of single adults under age 35 attending my Single Adult Ministry?” (not Young Adult Ministry) These young, unmarried adults would rather identify with a “Young Adult Ministry.” Thankfully, some churches are recognizing this and beginning targeted ministries for them.
45% Can Be Misleading
The 45% figure quoted to represent all unmarried adults (never married, divorced, widowed, single parent) in the U.S. can be misleading because this figure includes all ages of unmarried adults 18 yrs old till death. It is also true that a higher percentage of older single adults age 60+, mostly divorced and widowed; do not want to be identified with a senior adult ministry. Probably the majority of single 60 – 70 year olds don‘t want to be labeled “senior adult” because it bears the connotation of being “elderly,” and age is not exactly revered or admired in our culture today.
In a nutshell, I am saying probably 80% or more of adults in a single adult ministry during the years of….
1975 – 1985 were ages 25 - 55
1986 – 1995 were ages 30 - 60
1996 – 2005 were ages 35 - 65
2006 - ? are ages 40 – 70
It is clear to see the bottom and top ages have risen about 15 years in the last 35.
A Realistic Target Age Span
Most single adults who are late 60’s and older will usually not attend a single adult event. They either don’t go out much, or, may be part of a senior adult ministry. Additionally, people are divorcing well into their 60’s now. All of this makes the age of single adult ministry continue to increase on the bottom and top end.
To obtain a realistic potential market, subtract the numbers of unmarried people in your church and community under age 35, and over age 65, and you have an age span of 30 years to consider as a realistic target age for single adult ministry. This makes the target group who would attend a single adult ministry much smaller than 50% of all adults.