- Do our best to understand why it’s the way it is, and trust that most of it is not personal.
- Earn the right to have a voice.
- Exercise our voice in a way that can be heard.
Yesterday I offered some thoughts on part one. Today I want to comment on part two and three.
The second part is vital and it starts with this. We need to do a good job of loving people. We need to love an help shepherd younger single people. We need to have married friends and learn to minister to them as well. We can speak into married people’s lives and marriages. We need to love our married friends well – and this includes loving our married church leaders well.
If we want to change the stereotypes then we have to be different. There is no reason why we can’t lead a small group with married people in it. Attitude is important. For example, what do we do when there is a marriage sermon series? Do we check out, or double down? How I love other singles, married people, and leaders in the church carries weight. What I’m kind of saying is get off of the defensive, “no one gets it” level and onto the “I’m an equal follower of Jesus and I’m going to live it” level. Church leaders may not pick us to lead naturally, but we have to actually try to serve and lead. Maybe more than once.
This leads naturally into point three. That is, once we’ve earned the right to have a voice, freaking exercise it.
I’m not saying it will be easy or that they will listen to that early on. But that doesn’t mean they won’t listen at the end of the day. What I know for sure is that if we don’t speak, and don’t act, then nothing will happen. But if we earn the right and speak up, someone (not everyone) will hear us.
Someone once posted in the comment section , “I wish I was brave enough to share this post with my minister and elders”. I’m not trying to be self promoting here, but if you like something I or someone else writes about this stuff, share it with people that count. Have conversations (not just complaining sessions). Point out that the bible talks about celibacy and that maybe your church should think about it. Go missional on them (churches are all about “being missional”) and tell them that 50% of people are single and that those people are WAY less likely to go to church. If they approached it differently maybe those people will come. Speak up when it’s not right, not just under your breath to your friends on the way out the door, but with your elders and leaders that you’ve earned the right to talk to.
What we need is to lovingly challenge the church. Not softly mind you. Firmly and with conviction, but in love, for the good of the whole body of Christ and for the lost.
Offer solutions, and offer to help make those solutions happen.
This blog, and my whole writing and speaking ministry, started in one conversation about four years ago. My church had a singles seminar that went bad. I met with an elder and pastor at my church and after some niceties said essentially, “So, your singleness seminar sucked.” They knew it. Now understand, I was mid-30s, had helped our church plant a new campus, led several community groups and genuinely loved these guys. I said, “Look, here are some of the things I would have maybe talked about.” and I shared some new ways of looking at it, from a single perspective. Less than a year later they asked me to come to a weekend on Marriage and Family (of all places) and present on singles and marrieds together. I just finished teaching (with another single person) a four week course on Singleness and the Gospel at my church.
Now does it look like it should? No. Do we as a Church get it? Heaven’s no, not even close. But is God moving in it? I’d say yes.
I don’t have a list of easy answers but here’s my point. We can sit around, be mad and/or be the victim, or we can get off of defense, go love people, trust that they might have a good heart, forgive them for what they probably don’t even realize they are doing, without selfish ambition offer ideas – and then back it up. It needs to be bigger than just me and it needs to come from a heart of conviction, not bitterness. It will not be easy, but it could be good.
The question isn’t “does the church get singleness?” It doesn’t. Maybe a better question is if my church doesn’t get singleness – what am I going to do about it? If we don’t initiate the conversation, then who will?
Personally, I gave-up on Churches/Pastors more than five years ago, because I just accepted that they will never really understand. They don’t reallyv want to understand, because that requires challenge and change for them. So, I’m really just doing myself a disservice by caring whether or not they understand – I’ve already moved on. Can I still go to church? Sure, but not to try to convince anyone of truth. I just live my life and let them think what they want. If they were to ask my opinion about singleness, then I would share it, but they don’t and likely won’t. They seem to build their beliefs about singleness from the opinions of 50+ year old married people who have never had to deal with it, and certainly not in the modern realities that exist now, yet they talk as if they have real authority on the subject when they don’t. So, I’m not too concerned about their opinions, because those aren’t even opinions worth stressing or worrying about. They can’t help me, so they’re not worth my time. Why become angry and upset over something that won’t happen? I can find Christians who can help me – and I move on. Life is much easier that way than when obsessing about the views of people who have no real desire to understand our perspective, yet speak as though they do. I’ve had more than my fair share of 50+ year old pastors who became married at their bible colleges when they were 19 or 20, and talk to 30 year old singles like they actually understand us. It’s insulting, and I was angry and insulted for a time, but not anymore. Life moves on, and we should too. Find and build your own communities of fellowship, because that’s what matters in the end anyway.
Like I said in the previous post, that’s an option.
hi Tom- i’m 48- single never married Christian man- I can relate to what your saying. I hope you find a church where you fit in or a group you can fit into. I hope you won’t give up your faith or give up on going to church because of negative narrow minded people in the church because I haven’t. Start your own church or Bible study group if need be. God bless!
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I like Tom’s statement, “Find and build your own communities of fellowship, because that’s what matters in the end anyway.”
FYI: Justin I got brave a few months ago and forwarded your post to my preacher’s wife. Her response was, “OK”. I am certain she passed it along to her husband. Unfortunately nothing has changed at church but I am not going to let that bother me. Thanks to Tom, I have just begun a construction project. I am building a community of fellowship for myself. Thanks for blogging on this topic. May God bless you.
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