A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why married people need a singleness sermon series. The reason I wrote that post was two fold. First, we need married people and single people to be taught from Christian leadership the truth about the whole thing. Single people need to learn from a marriage and married people need to learn from singleness. It represents the whole of the story. One without the other comes up short.
Secondly, I think that one of the reasons that more pastors and leaders are scared to preach and teach on this (besides never having thought about it) is that they don’t know how to include the married people in it. I outlined that in that post and I’d encourage you to go back and read it if you haven’t.
Today I want to share with you the opening remarks of that sermon series. It’s the sermon you probably won’t ever hear, but the only one with a real chance to matter.
So without further adieu – pretend I’m in your pulpit.
“Today we begin our sermon series on singleness and the gospel. As I mentioned last week, we all need this sermon series – no matter what our marital context. It’s important because it affects not just the unmarried in our congregation but the marrieds and our youth. It all works together. This is one of the most important things we’ve done here in a long time.
I want to start today by saying this. Most of what you have heard about singleness is wrong. On behalf of the church – our church here and the church universally – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for all the times that we skimmed over it or mentioned it in passing including the obvious scriptures. I’m sorry for all the times we focussed on the nuclear family instead of the family of God. For all the platitudes and easy quick answers, I’m sorry. For all the times that we said things without actually studying and thinking about how all this plays out in the gospel and in the lives of our people, I’m sorry.
In the fight to rescue our culture, we’ve often failed to engage all of our people. In an effort to fight for the marriages in our church, we’ve often left out or glossed over the unmarried. To those who are unmarried and struggling, I’m sorry for where we have not taken your context seriously. For all who are married, I’m sorry for how what we taught you about singleness (or didn’t teach you as the case may be) may have hurt your marriage.
For all the times, and there have been many, that we made it seem like the only important thing for the unmarried was not having sex – I’m sorry. There have been times where we have treated you as less complete, less spiritual and less capable of leadership because you weren’t married. That was wrong.
For those of you who are called to celibacy there are no words. We have just flat screwed that up. We haven’t talked about it or offered you any guidance, support or teaching. Nor have we honored your calling and choice. I ask your forgiveness.
For lumping all unmarrieds into one group, I’m truly sorry. The truth is there are those who are single by calling, those who are single by choice, those who are single because of sin in their life or the sin of others. There are those who don’t know how to get married but want to. There are also those who are divorced – some biblically and others not so much and others who were divorced before they even knew Jesus. Finally there are those who are widowed – who never expected to be unmarried again. These are all completely different situations, and yet we’ve often treated them the same. That was wrong.
We’ve taught you what not to do, but not what to do. At times – too many times – we’ve made marriage and family an idol. We repent of that here and now, in public. Jesus invites us all to be in the family of God – and so do we – no matter what.
One sermon series over the course of a few weeks cannot repair all of that. It can’t possibly heal all the wounds or fix all the problems – for you as an individual and certainly not as a whole church. But maybe it can be a starting point towards a different discussion – and a discussion that actually includes everyone. The conversation won’t be easy or short, and we won’t all agree on everything. But we have to have it – both for those inside our church and for the lost outside the church.
Our hope is that this series will open the door to a whole different way of seeing singleness, marriage and the Kingdom. So, here we go. . . . ”
The serious guts it would take to say the above and pursue this series would be incredible and probably won’t happen. But it would be awesome. Talk about changing a room.
What would you want to see in a singleness sermon series?
I guess in a sermon series on singleness, I would most want to see how the priorities between being single and being married compare (or contrast).
I think it could be helpful for singles to prepare them with a clear view marriage rather the idol that may have formed in their heads. And I think for the married it would remind them that other parts of their lives demand their attention not just the things that would affect their marriage directly.
When a person gets married their priorities change. Their marriage gets bumped up over everything over their relationship with God. I think a problem is married people get too tied up in what’s new.
Yes, marriage is a major priority for you; but its doesn’t mean you completely desert everything and just concentrate your life on two people. I guess the big question is: How drastically different is married life to single life?
I don’t think it’s intentional, but their are very blatant divisions between singles in my community and those who are married or maybe even just dating. All of the pastors in my church lead married small groups. Our small groups are a huge part of our church and limiting all the church’s leadership to married groups just seems unbalanced. Plus, a pattern has arisen where once a single person is married they leave their single groups immediately for a married group. In college, dating/ married persons in my group of friends would leave their single friends behind to only spend time with other couples. My campus minister would even schedule events at his home for the dating and soon to be married people in the group.
Make sure you include instructions for resuscitating the singles around you in the pew, after they all faint because this is actually being said in church, haha. This would be awesome and i would love to see a sermon like this actually happen.
I know I’m deviating off topic here a bit but I had to share the thought. While this very ‘sermon’ is one that is topically great, I think it’s better applied through the various Sunday School groups for marrieds, singles, families, etc. Not that I don’t think everyone in a full congregation shouldn’t hear this message, just that it is better suited to a various group environment. Especially when the inevitable questions/discussions/etc come up during the learning process for those who would be shocked to hear such a message.
But most importantly, I’m someone that believes in expository preaching during the corporate worship service given to our Lord Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that we as believers are there not to hear topical based sermons that are aimed to improve our temporal lives with scripture backing that up. Rather we need to hear God’s Word preached and taught verse by verse so that we can gain the most knowledge and understanding from God’s Word to apply directly to our lives. Then during the application of God’s Word can we see sinful attitudes and tendencies and correct those. Such as how we treat singles, married folk, etc.
Wow a sermon on singles its so rare in our churches I believe such people are not considered in our days and age as it was in the bible !. Amazing part of all this is there is a remnant of unmarried folkes especially in the Education system who take care of kiddz because they have that passion to minister to family segment like kiddz because they don’t have the priviledge of owning one ! There is a remnant of unmarried who are so highly dedicated to serve God in the lives of kiddz who come from families and parents have not a chance for kiddz they only have it for each other to mantain their relationship and take care of work commitments or business may we give more prayer support on the unmarried who are willing to live right n serve God in the lives of young people especially those who are coming from broken families they need somebody whose not fed up with relationship issues n kiddz who are adding up to the relationship nerve she has they don’t have that chance to love n touch other families because they have got theirs to mend or take care of ! I’d very much enjoy a sermon on single never come across it for life !
Suggestions: Go over Matthew 19 and the three classifications of eunuchs, especially those who are eunuchs for the kingdom of God. Explain the metaphor and how it has nothing to do with surgical alteration. Explain that it applies to men and women. Go over how Jesus was a eunuch and that his arrival did away with the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate of the Old Testament. Discuss the differences between the affairs of the Lord and the affairs of the world, as described in 1 Corinthians 7. Also describe how they compliment each other and how marriage cannot be appropriately valued if celibacy is not appropriately valued.
I don’t need apologies. I don’t need them to help “set me up with a single Christian woman” (they all just want to be friends anyways 😉 )
What would I like to hear?
A flat out truth of “We all need the Gospel of Christ Jesus. All of us.”
No guilt trips. No man-up speeches. No thunderous tones telling the singles that “somehow” God doesn’t love them as much as the children, or the married folks (remember, the singles were children once as well 🙂 ) or God has not “blessed” the singles, or we singles just have to “wait” because God has THE ONE waiting for us. We just have to be patient. No more sermons like this ever please.
I want an uplifting to bring the rock to see and understand that it is “fruit of the spirit” everyday that needs to shine, and be seen.
No more funny comments about how “women” do everything in church. No more wise-cracks about “boys and their toys”
Here’s a radical idea. Preaching Jesus. Uplifting. Building trust, and fellowship instead of “cliques” and continuing the “private social club thing” that is happening at ALL churches. yes, a gentle dose of rebuking is needed in there as well. I said gentle.
Finally……why do too many (not all) but more than enough married people in church think that just because I am single, somehow I didn’t “trust” God enough, or somehow I wasn’t good enough, or I am “player” or physically unattractive?
If I can’t even find solace for the hurts I bring before Christ in a church……well….maybe it’s time for some folks to re-examine why they are in a church, and for what reasons 🙂
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