- Mike & Damali Abrokwah — Toronto, Canada
- Elias & Rachel Deleault — Tacoma, US
- Floyd & Tamara Grossett — Phoenix, US
- Sam & Diana Manning — Kingston, Jamaica
- Marshall & Shawn Mead — Orange County, US
- Bill & Kristen Moulden – Chicago, US
- Matt & Deanna Newburg — Southeast Florida, US
- Mark & Lin Ottenweller — Atlanta, US
- Larry & Kim Reed — Boston, US
- Adam & Bethany Smith – Dallas, US
- Angela Williams — Orange County, US
- Chad & Mara Winchell — Northern Virginia, US
- Plus this year, we welcome our newest Singles Service Team members:
- Jon & Brittany Sherwood — Columbia, South Carolina, US
- Bim & Nicole Towolawi — New York City, US
- Our sub-committees are:
- Disciples Today editors (Singles page) – Mike & Damali Abrokwah
- SURGE (International Missions) – Chad & Mara Winchell
- TIP Team (Leadership Development) – Mark & Lin Ottenweller/Adam & Bethany Smith
- HOPE Singles Corp – Mark & Lin Ottenweller
- ICOC HotNews liaisons - Elias Deleault, Marshall Mead, Adam Smith
Here are our highlights of 2016:
The TIP Team: Singles at the table
As you can see, the Singles Service Team is made up of married couples, except for one single sister, Angela Williams. How do we form a collaborative partnership with single men and women in our churches if they are not at the table to discuss the unique challenges, opportunities and dreams of single disciples?
This has been our first and greatest challenge. And that is how the TIP team was born. TIP stands for Think-Inspire-Propose. The TIP Team is a group of the most promising leaders across the United States who are single and lead singles ministries in their local congregations. Almost all of them are not on the full-time paid staff of their churches.
Singles Service Team members, Mark and Lin Ottenweller (Atlanta) and Adam and Bethany Smith (Dallas) facilitate the TIP team’s partnership with the Singles Service Team in planning conferences and bringing fresh solutions to issues in the singles ministry. The TIP team is a think–tank where leaders are developed. From the TIP team, some will go on to join the Singles Service Team over time.
TIP Team members: Anselm Beach (Boston), Mick Conners (Seattle), Karen Durst (Phoenix), Sherie Gayle (Baltimore), Jonathan Govan (Atlanta), Kasia Kedzia (Northern Virginia), Markieta Marks (Tacoma), Carrandias Moore (Boston), Chris Ofiokpa (), Joe Parsons (Chicago), Angela Perry (Boston), Sean Smith (Atlanta), Scottie Thelemaque (Boston), Angela Williams (Orange County), Ashley Wright (Seattle), Michelle Wright (Atlanta)
2016 Singles survey: Who's single in our churches?
Every two years, we ask for information from North American churches about the single disciples in their congregations.
For example, we want to know: how many disciples in their churches are single (not students and over 18); what’s the men-women ratio; how many singles were baptized and how many walked away. See below for a summary of our findings from the 2016 survey. The numbers represent the activity in 2015. Our next survey will be in 2018 and will capture 2017 activity.
2016 North American Survey
- Number of North American churches represented: 125 of 190
- Total number of single disciples in these churches: 8,057
- Total number of men: 2,886
- Total number of women: 5,182
- Men-Women ratio: 35.8% men - 64.2% women
- Single parents: 1,499
- Baptisms/restorations: 851
- Inactives: 607
Lesson learned from the 2016 survey:
- We are keeping 94% of our singles faithful!
- We are growing at a slow rate.
- Our ratio of men to women stands at just under 36%-64%women - a 1% increase since 2014.
- There are good news stories, such as…
- A ministry of 239 single disciples
- They seem to do well at limiting the number of singles coming off the church membership (becoming inactive). We should look at these numbers for our own regions.
Questions moving forward:
- Why are we not converting and retaining more men?
- What is the impact of adding more single parents to our fellowship?
- How can we better use the survey results?
- What is the breakdown by age?
- There are less than 10 full-time staff dedicated to leading singles ministry for 8,000 or more singles in North America. How does this affect the growth of singles ministry?
Singles on fire: What's happening around the world
What do we want to accomplish as a Singles Service Team? We want to unleash the spiritual power of faithful, single Jesus followers into our churches and into the world. We want single disciples to feel valued by God regardless of their marital status. We want them to be effective for God in the exact situation of life God has them, rather than feeling invisible in our churches and waiting for something “better” to come along.
We want to empower them to take responsibility for the condition of the singles ministries in their local congregations and to learn how to be team-players to bring about change, beginning with themselves. We want them to dream, travel, serve, evangelize, and form a worldwide community of loving, Spirit-filled disciples – who just happen to be single!
Here are some ways this is already happening.
Singles Service Team members Chad and Mara Winchell (Northern Virginia) lead SURGE - Singles United Representing God Everywhere - an international partnership that gives singles an opportunity to visit smaller foreign churches to encourage and strengthen them, and evangelize with them. The goal is to rejuvenate the foreign church in its mission of saving their nation. This year with SURGE, 18 disciples from New York, California, and Virginia traveled to South American churches. Many of them remarked on how it really gave them a taste of what a mission team is like and how the trip even inspired them to join a mission team. After SURGE’s trip to Paris four years ago, the singles ministry there got a vision. At the time there were only 5 singles in the Paris church. But since then they have baptized 14 people and restored four - and 18 of these singles are brothers! Read more about SURGE’s trip to South America here.
HOPE worldwide Single Corps
The HOPE Singles Corps mobilizes single men and women to serve the poor and needy at various sites around the world. There are four sites scheduled for 2017 in the Ukraine, Cambodia, Haiti, and South Africa. Mark and Lin Ottenweller (Atlanta) led the most recent Singles Corps held in South Africa in November 2016. In addition to serving the poor, they organized a leadership workshop where leaders shared best practices from their ministries, and they participated in a weekend singles retreat for the southern African churches. Go to www.hopeww.org/hope-worldwide-singles-corps for more information about the 2017 HOPE Singles Corps opportunities.
Reach2016 – Singles Track
At any of our larger conferences, the Singles Service Team’s job is to plan a conference track for singles, and the Reach conference in St. Louis was no exception. Singles Service Team members Bill and Kristen Moulden (Chicago) were the point people coordinating the Reach2016 Singles Track. For single disciples in our churches a highlight of the conference were all the opportunities to connect to each other especially in classes taught by other singles and in the many opportunities to meet new people and build relationships - on the dance floor or at a speed dating event! During the opening session of the singles track, two ministry interns from the Boston Church’s singles ministry Angela Perry (Boston) and Anselm Beach (Boston) – excellent examples of singles on fire - spoke with deep conviction, humor and humility, inspiring the audience to embrace the full, dynamic life that Jesus has promised every single one of us.
The “Southeast Asian Chapter” of the Singles Service Team
One of our goals as a service team is to have a global impact. To accomplish this we need international partners. We are excited to announce that the first meeting of a Singles Service Team outside of North America - the Southeast Asia Singles Service Team - was held in June 2016 at the Asian Discipleship Summit. The Southeast Asia Singles Service Team came out of a simple introduction Floyd Grossett facilitated earlier that year between the two brothers leading singles ministries in Singapore and in Manila, Philippines - Phua Hee, an evangelist in Singapore and Jesse Caguioia, an optometrist who leads the entire singles ministry of 500 disciples in Manila. They immediately saw the need to form a partnership that was bigger than their individual ministries. A few months later at the Summit, they invited singles ministry leaders from all of the churches in Southeast Asia to meet for the first time to make plans to work together to strengthen single disciples in their part of the world, and inspire them to engage and have an impact in their churches and communities. Our hope is this can be an inspiration and model for singles in all of our families of churches around the world!
DT Heart & Soul (DTHS)
DT Heart & Soul, our churches’ online dating website, saw 20 couples married this year, for a total of 50 marriages and 7 babies so far! About 41% of these total marriages are the result of international matches. We established new service teams to improve collaboration with singles leaders, and to help single brothers use DTHS more effectively - part of several strategies to work around the ongoing women/men singles ratio issue (in 2016 the average ratio for active members was 3.63). At the Reach conference, over 400 singles attended our speed dating mixer! We also started a Facebook group for members to seek support and advice from our married couples. In 2017, we seek to expand our appeal to younger singles, by improving mobile access and by highlighting the growing number of younger singles meeting and marrying through DT Heart & Soul. We commend the single men and women of all ages in our churches who approach dating and marriage with deep conviction, purity and faith, putting Jesus first as Lord in this area of their lives!
Solving our communications problem: How will everyone know all the good that is happening?
Forming a worldwide community of single disciples will not happen without a strong communication plan. In all areas of our plan, we need greater collaboration with single disciples so that the news and other content are relevant, meaningful and inspiring from the perspective of singles in our churches.
We are not there yet, but here is what we intend to do.Be intentional about the Singles page on Disciples Today. Singles Service Team Members Mike and Damali Abrokwah are the new editors of our Disciples Today page. They want singles to take more ownership of the content. See their video introducing themselves and describing their vision here.
Figure out how to use our Facebook page effectively. The Singles Service Team launched an ICOC Singles Facebook page two years ago, but our plan for keeping it current and generating new content has not worked. We need a smaller group made up of Singles Service Team and TIP members to find a solution. In the meantime, our Facebook page still gives us a taste for what’s going on in singles ministry, so go ahead and “like” our page here.
Partner with ICOC HotNews to get the word out about the impact singles are having in our churches around the world. In the public communication among our churches, the faces and voices of single disciples are largely missing. This contributes to a culture of “invisibility” for singles overall. And our single disciples feel it. This will be just one vehicle out of many for connecting the singles community worldwide and doing something else incredibly important – sharing the good news that we know is happening in the lives of single disciples but we often don’t hear about it.
To move all of our initiatives forward, the Singles Service Team has regular conference calls throughout the year. Here is our 2017 Conference Call schedule:
- January 19 (Mission, vision, strategy)
- May 18 (Global communication & social media)
- July 13 (Leadership Training)
- September 21 (International Connections)
- November 16
In addition to our conference calls, the Singles Service Team meets once a year for a face-to-face meeting/retreat. Our next retreat is scheduled for the weekend of March 31 - April 2, 2017 in Dallas, right before the meetings for all the Service Team Chairs that are also scheduled at that time.
At our April 2017 meeting, we will:
- Refine our vision and strategy for strengthening single disciples around the world and extending their influence.
- Begin to plan our 2018 International Singles Conference in earnest [which will be in Anaheim, California, thanks to Singles Service Team members and 2018 ISC conference liaisons, Marshall and Shawn Mead (Orange County)]
- Go to the next level in leadership development of the TIP team; they will be coming to Dallas also and we will have many meetings that will overlap
- Make plans to form other “chapters” of the Service Team in other geographic regions of the world
Thank you for your support and prayers for single disciples everywhere!
Grace and peace,
Floyd and Tamara Grossett