When I was a child, my parents went to great lengths to ensure we had beautiful Christmas memories and fun family traditions. One tradition was that Christmas Eve was always an open invitation to people who had nowhere else to go. My mother would cook a Tex-Mex feast and invite others to join us, including the single professors from the university nearby, the elderly woman who lived alone, and the Muslim man who sold cell phones in the mall. Most of the time, only one or two would come, but this tradition instilled in me a reminder to always look for those who have nowhere to go for the holidays.
As I reminisce on this tradition, I am now a single woman. I live hundreds of miles from my parents and brother. Usually, I go home for the holidays or my family comes to visit me. As I’ve talked with other singles, though, I recognize that my ability to be with family is a blessing that not everyone has.
Some singles can’t afford to go home. Others have no family left or are estranged from their families. Whatever the reason, they find themselves alone during the holidays. This reality gives the church a unique opportunity to build relationships with singles outside of the church and love the singles in their church during the holiday season. However, to do so, we have to be willing to change our mindset from the perfect American family-only holiday that we so often envision. Instead, we must welcome a messy, open celebration of the family we have through Christ and extend an open invitation to those who are still caught in sin’s curse.
The single population around us is increasing as more and more people choose to wait to get married or not get married at all. The church must engage this demographic. So, what are some ways to engage singles during the holidays?
1. Look for opportunities to engage your lost single friends.
Invite them to your home on Christmas day and read the Christmas story. Go Christmas caroling and talk about your favorite songs. Invite them to join you for the Christmas Eve service. Sometimes, singles are simply looking for opportunities to celebrate with someone.
2. Open your home to singles during the holiday.
Invite them over to make fudge with you, decorate, or spend Christmas Eve with you. Make sure they understand that their presence would be a blessing, not a burden.
3. Ask if they need help doing anything for the holidays.
Do they plan to decorate? See if they would like company. Do they want to make Christmas cookies for their coworkers? See if they would like a helper. Do they need to do Christmas shopping? Tag along. Do they have to stand in line to mail packages? Offer to accompany them. Holiday lines are much more enjoyable with two people. Besides, you never know what spiritual conversations or mentoring opportunities might arise while you are waiting.
4. When things at your church are cancelled, check in with the singles among you.
Do they have a place to go? If you aren’t meeting so that families can go to the Christmas parade, would those singles like to come along? If Sunday School has been cancelled so families can celebrate Christmas, invite them to join you.
5. Search your heart about what you believe about singleness.
Sometimes, we glorify marriage as the end goal. This subconscious assumption can lead to two erroneous beliefs: single people are incomplete without a spouse and singleness is a condition that needs to be fixed. But the truth of Scripture is that both singles and married couples are working towards the same end goal: glorifying God. The beauty of Christmas for singles is that Christ’s coming grafted single people into the family of God. In Christ, we have a family and a purpose that is far greater than a romanticized fairy tale wedding. We serve a King who uses both singles and married couples for His glory.
Disclaimer…this blog in no way is meant to ask you to sacrifice all your family time – these times are important! But I do hope it challenges you to see moments when you can fit singles into your lives during the holidays.
Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in 2016.