I recently went to a singleness event run by our good friends at Honoured Singles. They were celebrating Christian single leaders, and it went very well. It highlighted to me, once again, that people are more than their relationship status and that one of the biggest challenges in the wider church is realising you can love God, seek him, and still want to get married.
If you don’t know who Honoured Singles are, do go and check them out. They’re all about blessing and empowering Christian singles in the church, creating ways for singles to feel supported, affirmed, and part of God’s kingdom. They’re doing amazing things and we’re glad to call them friends and point people to the work they’re doing.
I recently went along to a leaders breakfast in Manchester for singles that they were running. It was such a good atmosphere, with a very good talk/discussion time, and space for people to meet others and find friendships.
Not Mutually Exclusive
I was sitting on a table with a great group of people, involved in wonderful ministries and jobs, talking passionately about their calling and what God is doing in their lives.
They were also openly talking about the good parts and opportunities of singleness, but also discussed some of the struggles and loneliness, and their desire to get married.
It just emphasised what I always talk about, and I think we in the church need to keep hearing again and again: You can love God, be seeking him fully, using your singleness to serve him, but also have a desire to seek marriage.
The attitude I have to push back on in church sometimes is that ‘you can’t be fully content in your singleness and love God fully if you want to get married too’. But why is that the case?
You can love God and be pushing into your calling in the present, hoping that it might change
You can be loving God and doing amazing things in your job, but still want a promotion or a change of career long-term. You can be married and loving God, but still want to address aspects of your relationships and change the way it looks somehow. You can love God and be pushing into your calling in the present, hoping that it might change or look different in the future.
Just because you want your singleness to change at some point, that doesn’t mean you’re not honouring or seeking God in your current situation. They’re not mutually exclusive.
I think, on the whole, churches and Christians are starting to change. Now, it does vary depending on the geographical area, tradition, etc., and there’s lots more to do, but I see in my work a realisation that single people need to be supported and given more of a voice in our church family.
I believe, based on the work I do and the conversations at this leaders breakfast event, that as Christians and as a church, we can change the landscape if we remember to:
- Let Single People Give Talks
- No ‘Top-Down’ Models
- Be Inspiring
Let Single People Give Talks
We need to let single people give talks in general and be involved in the life of the church in this way. But I also think they should be given the opportunity to give specific talks on singleness. In study groups, at the main meeting, etc.
And not just to other single people, but married people too. Married couples need to hear what modern singles and modern dating is like, and what people in their church are experiencing. (Read our guest blog from Honoured Singles My 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness.)
I mean, we hear married people talk about singleness and their views and understanding of singleness, so why not let single people talk about it and about their views and understanding of relationships too?
Singleness isn’t just something single people should be thinking about.
No ‘Top-Down’ Models
Having said that, it’s also important to create a space for singles to talk to other singles in the church on the challenges and joys they face while being single (as well as in other areas of their life too).
It can’t just be from the stage or ‘leadership team’, it can’t just be top-down, there needs to be peer to peer discussion.
We need to create space for discussion and empowerment
This may seem odd, but most churches create space for married couples to chat with each other and share experiences, either on courses or through events aimed at married people. So why not for single people as well?
We need to create space for discussion and empowerment and go against some of the ‘mutually exclusive’ thinking. (Read Quick Guide: When Saying ‘Being Content With Singleness’ Is & Isn’t Okay)
Singleness isn’t a waiting room, it isn’t a burden, it isn’t a mark against someone doing mission. Yes there are struggles and we need to be honest, but we are always more than our relationship status.
We need to create ways to celebrate the achievement of single people. We’re often good at celebrating marriage or engagements. But what about promotions? What about people doing things in their community (that aren’t necessarily linked to church)?
Single people are doing amazing things and we need to be inspired by that, share in their celebration, and allow ways for the family to stand up and say well done.
Loving God, and wanting to fall in love, are not mutually exclusive
Honoured Singles are doing amazing work. More churches and more of us need to be apart of the vision they are trying to achieve. Imagine if we all took part in enabling church that was more inclusive. (Read 4 Trends That Characterises Singleness In Our 20s, 30s, and 40s)
Loving God, and wanting to fall in love, are not mutually exclusive. We can be part of changing church culture and its approach to singleness if we remember: Let Single People Give Talks, No ‘Top-Down’ Models, Be Inspiring. (Read 3 Mistakes That Lead to Less Singles in Church)
When was the last time you heard singleness mentioned in your church? Comment welcomed below.