Meet Jessica Bufkin. A former junior high English teacher, Jessica currently serves as Editor for SingleRoots, a website that encourages Christian singles to be intentional with their lives and offers many resources to assist them, including a free eBook, When Will I Get Married? This week, we chatted with her about how to survive being a single gal in a new church.
4word: New city, new job, new church, new friends. How do you plug in when you're the lone newbie in a huge singles group?
Jessica: Let’s be honest—unless you’re a raging extrovert, it’s not easy. I’m an extrovert, but being the new person, especially in a singles group, can be daunting. For starters, try to make at least one friend. Find someone else who’s new like you and befriend her. Then, you’ll at least have a wingman.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is simply dive in. Find a place to serve, show up for fellowships, and become a regular. It would be wonderful if someone met you at the door every single day and never left your side until you are fully acclimated to the group.
Maybe there are groups like that out there, but realistically speaking, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. You’ll have to tell someone your name again for the tenth time and initiate far more conversations than you wish to.
Eventually, though, you’ll look around and realize that you’re a part of a community that both needs and loves you and one that you need and love as well.
4word: What if your church doesn't have a young adults or singles ministry?
Jessica: Many singles prefer to not be a part of a singles group; they’d rather live life alongside people in all stages of life.
I would add, though, that it’s important to seek accountability with at least one other person. For example, if you’re involved in leadership in the college ministry, you need to find someone your age or older with whom you can be open and honest about your life.
And don’t assume that she has to be single. I think one of the biggest mistakes singles make is to assume that our married friends can’t possibly speak into our lives because they don’t understand our prolonged singleness. There is more to your life than your lack of a husband, and your married friends will help you keep that perspective.
In fact, some of my fondest memories from college are when older women would spend time with me one-on-one and pour into my life. They would take me to lunch and pray for and encourage me with the Word. It always made me feel so special, and I loved the wisdom they shared with me.
4word: Where are some practical places a single gal can serve the church?
Jessica: When I’m new to a church, I scour the website and the bulletin. I start by looking for “smaller” ways to serve—immediate, temporary needs such as helping with a block party or sorting goods donated to a clothing drive. As I do those things, I start to meet people and learn more about the ministries of the church.
You might also find areas of need within the singles ministry. I know two girls who started a small group because the church they were attending didn’t have one. Just be on the lookout for areas that match your gifting.
4word: What about dating within your singles group. How do you do it well without things getting too awkward?
Jessica: It can get awkward, but that doesn’t mean you should forego it. I’ve had numerous friends who met in a singles ministry and eventually married. Like in any friendship, there’s a little bit of an adjustment period and finding a “new normal.”
I think both sides need to work on doing this well. The singles need to cut the daters some slack because they’re learning how to date under the microscope of the singles ministry. It’s important for singles to give them freedom and grace and fight the temptation to have judgmental conversations behind their backs.
But it’s also important for the daters to continue to cultivate their friendships with those who were there for them before the relationship and will be there for them if/when things don’t work out. Being careful with the public displays of affection is much appreciated too!
Ladies, we’re curious. What’s your church’s singles group like? Was it hard to make friends when you first joined? Share some advice with your fellow single gals in the comments!