Guest Editorial: The Single Minister
[Editor’s Note: About 20 years ago at one of my first try-outs as a graduate of the Master of Ministry program at Freed-Hardeman University, I was told that a congregation would hire me if I were married. You don’t forget such moments and ever since then, I have been an advocate for men who are single being allowed into the ministry. Stan Mitchell does an excellent job arguing for that very thing. Please take notice of his message.]
by Stan Mitchell
“For a man to remain a bachelor, he must either keep a cool head, or cold feet.”
Barnabas, Jeremiah, Paul, Jesus Christ. What do these men have in common? They were single ministers. Bachelors who served the Lord.
It fascinates me how resistant the church is today to the idea of a single man in the ministry. I don’t know how many church members say, “We prefer our preacher to be married.” That single preacher probably prefers to be married, too.
I am heartbroken to say I can name numerous men who have given up their dream of preaching because churches will not hire a man who is single. Is this any way to further the kingdom?
The New Testament tells us that elders are to be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). It says no such thing about a preacher’s wife.
Some suggest a single preacher may “have trouble with the women of the congregation.” Really? Isn’t that a question of character, not marital status? Have you ever known a married man to fancy himself a big hit with the ladies? Hire a man of character, regardless of his marital status.
Others suggest a single man is not mature. Folks, some of the most immature people I have ever known are married.
Still others suggest the wife can be involved in women’s activities. First, this places an unfair and unbiblical burden on preachers’ wives. The Bible says as much about the preacher’s wife as it does about the Hunger Games trilogy. (That was a joke; the Bible says nothing about the ubiquitous movie phenomenon).
The single preacher can minister to an increasingly growing demographic group in our churches, namely, single Christians. These people’s souls are just as valuable as the souls of married people. What is more, a singles group properly motivated can be one of the church’s greatest, most evangelistic assets.
Most startlingly important of all: We have placed a rule on our churches that the Bible never does. When we deny single ministers the opportunity to serve, brethren, we are being unscriptural!
Single women, too, can serve (under biblical conditions, naturally). They served both Paul and the Lord. Why not now?
Paul thought being single was an advantage in ministry.
“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:22,23).
Jesus declared there was an honored place for the single, those who have chosen to be single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12).
Brethren, it’s time someone said something about this! We are limiting ourselves as a fellowship when we shut these good people out of service. On the mission field, single people can serve without the limitations of a married man; in our pulpits they can serve with distinction, just as preachers in Bible times did.
The Lord’s kingdom has been hurt by our blinders, our prejudice against single people. Let me be blunt and urgent. It needs to stop!
Have you tried using a minister who is single? Before you dismiss the idea, keep in mind the time he can give to the task, the concentration he can place on it. Or simply do this. When considering a man for ministry, look at his qualifications, his experience, his character. Leave his marital status to the Facebook page.