Going It Alone: Being Single in Youth Ministry

October 31st, 2017

I turned 34 last November. I don’t generally like to own up to my age, bur for the sake of this blog and the direction it’s heading, I needed to sacrifice information I prefer kept secret.

Last December I met someone special and so far, things are going really well. I had a few boyfriends through the years, but nothing that was lasting and so most of my ministry career up to this point has been as a single woman – hence my owning up to my age. I have done ministry as a single since I graduated college at 22.

Being a woman in ministry is hard enough. Then you add being single to it and it can be incredibly tough at times. Here are a few examples to show just how hard being single in ministry can be:

  • You don’t get to go home and share in the joys and struggles of ministry with someone who will listen and cares. For example, you get home from a really great (or bad) retreat or youth trip and instead of sharing in all that happened on the trip with a special someone, you begin your 15 loads of laundry because it’s not going to do itself, finding yourself back to reality all too soon.
  • The church often is quite clueless in what to do with singleness – seeing it almost as a disease that needs curing via marriage and so you are often left without support from the very ministry you are working with.
  • Friends can be hard to come by as most of your friends are…you guessed it…married! You are used to being the 3rd, 5th or 7th wheel. Them…not so much. So because of discomfort they feel, you are more often than not, sitting at home wishing you could go out with friends without having to beg, borrow or steal their time.
  • Because you are single and in ministry, many people automatically figure you naturally have “more time” since you don’t have a family taking up your time. Nope, not the case. You are the sole person responsible for taking care of things like finances, taxes, the car, the house, the yard, shopping, making meals, trying to find time for your few friends and so much more.
  • Being the case that the church often doesn’t know what to do with single people – you will also hear some uncomfortable or downright weird comments about singleness and/or marriage BECAUSE people feel awkward about it. So, you just do a lot of smiling and nodding while letting those comments roll.

I am here to attest to the fact that while being single in ministry is hard, it is in fact very possible. As a single person, I’m able to have both a full ministry and a full life.

Being single in ministry means I can go to more extra-curricular activities of my kids or plan more of my own activities with my kids because I don’t have a family to get home to, therefore I don’t have to forfeit precious family time.

Being single in ministry means that when I desperately need peace and quiet or a quick nap, I can do so knowing I can just wake up to a bowl of cereal for supper if need be instead of making a meal for a family.

Being single means you can connect to so many more of you kids when it comes to singleness because a majority of them are single also.

Whether married or single in ministry there will always be good and bad with both. And while being single in ministry can have its struggles, it can have benefits too. Finding fullness as a single person in ministry means leaning into the struggle and leaning back on the benefit.

Sarah Vanderaa is currently serving as a full-time youth director in a church located in the south suburbs of Chicago. She is currently in her 11th season and is excited to see what the year will bring. On her rest days, she can often be found behind a computer writing and updating her blog, while drinking lots and lots of coffee. In between naps, she still finds time to read novels. You can connect with Sarah through her blog at WWW.UNLOCKANDRELEASE.TUMBLR.COM or her Facebook page @UNLOCKANDRELEASE


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.