The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jan 30, 2011

How to be a "singles-minded church" (without necessarily having a "singles ministry")

Over the past two and a half years I have been blessed, as a single guy, with great fellowship and edification at my local church, despite the fact that they are too small to have a "formal" singles ministry (and, indeed, very few singles my age). Despite this, based on my experience there and what I've seen of how they treat others, I consider them to be a "singles-minded church." While singles are certainly not the only demographic that the church needs to pay attention to, it is certainly an important and often neglected one (and hey, let's face it, we singles can get pretty lonely, especially when we're away from our immediate family members). In light of this, I hope the following brief list can be an encouragement for those with singles in their church who don't know what to do with them:

       1. Treat them as family. As I've stated in a previous post, since my parents are in Japan and I have no family of my own, my local church is my family in many ways. This is because they treat me as a brother in Christ by fellowshipping with me, encouraging me, helping me, feeding me, etc. (I cannot count the times members of the church have taken me out to eat)
       Of course, there is a balance here that must be maintained. You don't want to "smother" the singles in your church with attention, because that just makes us uncomfortable. And singles are often quite busy and may not be able to take you up on your kindness. Neverthelss, singles get lonely and appreciate it when people acknowledge our existence. Attention in the form of kindness reflects a Christ-like character, especially because singles are often not in a position to reciprocate your kindness. Indeed, if I may paraphrase Christ's words, "to the extent that you have shown kindness to a single, you have done so to me")

     2. Keep them busy. Offering ministry opportunities to a willing single shows him that he is as much a part of the Kingdom as a married couple.  Furthmore, it may have the added benefit of keeping him or her out of trouble! (idleness is, after all, the devil's workshop) Of course, if I might offer a word to singles: it helps to let them know you're willing to help out in ministry. I can definitely say that the ministry opportunities I have been able to take part in as a single have not only helped me grow spiritually but have assured me that I'm where I belong for now, helping build the kingdom of heaven.

3. Pray for and show an interest in them. The old proverb holds true, of course: "Ask not a student about their dissertation, for they will surely tell you (and bore you to tears in the process)." Nevertheless, I cannot count the times that somebody from the church has asked me how my studies are progressing, what I was writing on, etc., and then told me they were praying for me. I doubt that many of them care about social-scientific criticism in 1 Peter, but it doesn't matter; the fact that they take an interest in my life and pray for specific parts of it demonstrates to me that they truly are my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ (to a certain degree, I can thank my parents for their upbringing and interest in my life; it's due to them that I have a general idea of what a good family should look like).

While I certainly do not desire to remain single for too much longer, my time as a single adult has been made considerably less burdensome by my brothes and sisters in Christ, and for that I am greatful.

In a future post, I hope to point the reader to some excellent work done by Dr. Andreas Köstenberger and Barry Danylak and discuss a "biblical theology of singleness," especially in the church age.

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