For singles who have been divorced, it can feel like you always have a scarlet “D” on your chest for “Divorced.” The Christian community can often be the worst offenders of this, labeling you as “Damaged” but redeemed. Divorce was not God’s plan for any marriage, but it happens. Jesus even addresses it in Matthew 19:1-9, saying it was because of mans hardness of hearts that divorce even happens. This blog is not to debate the grounds of if a divorce is right or wrong, it is for those who are already divorced.
It was not a marriage that lasted long and it ended with my spouse being unfaithful. The divorce was rather quick and settled within months and having no children it was easier to move on for me than others. It was hard to face my family, friends, and Church after the divorce happened. My commitment to the marriage was not reciprocated and somehow I felt punished in the church for my actions. I walked with God for years before the divorce happened, and I needed Him most after I left for good.
My parents encouraged me to go with them to church, try the singles group there and meet some friends. It took weeks to build up the courage to go into the singles class, I literally shed tears at the thought of meeting new Christian friends and how they would judge my scarlet “D.” Joining that singles group was just what I needed to get my faith back on track and be surrounded with love from friends as I built my relationship with Christ. Most people did not find my divorce to be an issue, however there were a few that judged my divorce as if it had obviously been my fault that the marriage failed.
As a follower of Christ, you are not damaged in God’s eyes. Your sins were washed away when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, Acts 22:16. As followers of Christ our sins are taken away and even cast to the deepest sea on the ocean floor, Micah 7:19. Christ’s love covers our multitude of sins, even divorce, 1 Peter 4:8. When others judge you because of your divorce, be strong and take refuge in Christ and His promises of Love.
Regardless if your divorce is “Biblical” or “justified” you are not innocent in a divorce. Everyone is a sinner and makes mistakes or sins before God, Romans 3:23. Those sins do not have to define who you are, but you should be vigilant not to make them again. Divorce happens. Jesus knew this in Matthew 19:1-9 and He does not want you to feel damaged, He died on the cross for our sins so that we may have life and have it more abundantly, John 10:10. I encourage you to live life abundantly after your divorce and be free from the sins of your past to enjoy the blessings in your future. Just a few short years after my divorce, I met my husband. Had I never let go of the past, I would have never been looking ahead for the blessing of being married to a Godly man.
“I tried going back to an in-person church, but I didn’t want to take the seat of a family who may need it.”
“My job moved fully remote, I live alone, and in two years, I have only been out to social events a handful of times.”
“I struggle with being alone. The pandemic and quarantine have made me even more alone and even harder to reconnect.”
“Being a single parent was hard already when COVID hit. I was already alone, and it was like a double hit of loneliness with no childcare available.”
“I lost my wife to COVID at 32. I didn’t want to be a single adult, and now I am a single parent and a widower.”
“I started going to church online to stay safe. Now I’m not sure how I would even start going back.”
We hear you, and we are your advocate in the local church. We exist to build a community for single adults through discipleship, as we have done for 10 years. Your voice is heard, and we have dedicated our ministry to helping your pastor, leaders, community, and friends re-engage you in 2022.
All the quotes above are from real people who need authentic community now more than ever. Singles were already 51% of the adult population in the US before 2020, and the average age of widows was 57. With over 1 million passed away from covid, there are even more singles in our communities than we realize waiting to find a community to connect in.
Leaders to singles.
You have done an amazing job these past two years. You learned how to do relational ministry in ways we never imagined and may need to do again in the future. But at this moment, will you be bold enough to take action and reach singles in your church and your community? Singles are not a ministry your church used to have years ago. They are searching online and talking to friends to see where they can connect with people in their life stage. While your church should be the destination where they learn to be complete in Christ, are they driving past your building to find friends?
We are two years in, but the work has just begun for you to connect.
Singles, you will need to re-enter a rhythm of joining in a safe environment focused on Christ. We hear your pain, but we were made in the image of God to be in community and complete in Christ. Take a step to try to engage with a new church family. You may find new friends and relationships to help you be a disciple. Leaders, there are many things on your plate to do in 2022. Still, if you are bold enough to be single-friendly, you may just find half your community will now feel welcome to join you in the new initiatives. Email us at [email protected] to learn ways to connect with singles and be single-friendly.
Is a Single Focused Conference Right For Your Church?
Dating for singles now is the same as it has always been, but completely different. Confused? Singles now interact with technology in every part of the dating experience. From finding that person they would otherwise never meet online, to texting post date to affirm feelings. In fact, not using technology to date is harder than it is to embrace it and use it.
2. Why singles wait so long to marry.
Some people will say the single is “too picky.” The mature Christian single hears the stats, sees friends or family members with unhappy marriages. We hear the horror stories about divorce but rarely hear the positive.
No one needs a spouse to be fulfilled. But, what each and everyone of us, married or single, does need is a Savior. We said it before and we’ll say it again, Complete in Christ.
4. How we spend our money.
Being single does not mean you have an excess of funds. Singles have the same expenses as marrieds: rent or house payment, utilities, car insurance and car payments, food, medical insurance, student loans. For the single parent, there’s the child expense. No different than the married couple with a child.
5. Where we hangout.
small groups. The local church offers the opportunity to intermingle with the body of Christ.
with co-workers. Those on the same team working towards a similar goal.
with others like ourselves: It could be the same hobby or interest. It could be others with the same calling, on the same mission, at the same place.
social events. Meeting friends of friends, friends of family. Meeting the stranger who enjoys the same type of music. Meeting the stranger who admires the same piece of artwork at an exhibit. Attending sports events.
Regardless whether a person is completely content with being single or not, the holidays for older single adults reveal a somber truth. It is logical then to see when time marches on, things change, and those who are dear to us pass on. For singles, this can create a situation they never saw coming.
It is just me this Christmas.
Small families have some amazing abilities to do more with everyone since there are less people to logistically connect with. This also means less siblings, if any, and for most singles, one Christmas day they find themselves the last of their family. We know this sounds extreme, but for one single adult this was exactly what happened.
Robert was an only child. He had dated a few times but never really found a person that shared reciprocal interest in marriage. Holidays were spent with mom and dad at his house. In the span of three years, both parents had passed to be with the Lord and then it happened.
Robert was alone for Christmas. Years of traditions with family are gone and his extended family were too far away to travel to see them.
Where was the Framily?
Robert was active in his church and had several friends. Many were close as family, they were framily (friends considered family). But they all forgot that he was a single child and both his parents had passed away. His close network of friends forgot to reach out. In all fairness, Robert also failed to reach out and seek a place to go to on Christmas Day. But, he also didn’t prepare to spend it alone.
We Have to Pay Attention.
Singles, leaders to singles, and anyone reading this blog: We have to be observant of singles in our lives and make sure we reach out often to keep them connected. In this case, Robert may had forgotten he was going to be alone for Christmas due to the busyness of the holiday season. Robert may have wanted to spend the day alone, which would be fine. But, the issue is that everyone lost sight of their single adult friend and where he was going to spend Christmas.
Churches Need to Connect Singles.
Church, however you connect singles you need to make it a priority. Singles like this one and others make up nearly half of all adults in America and as more and more adults age without a spouse, this number and scenario is going to increase. Churches need to have a focus on connecting singles in whatever discipleship strategy they have to minister to singles all year. Some will still fall through the net you build to catch singles, but your strategy to reach them will connect more than it misses.
Being alone for Christmas does not have to be the saddest thing ever. This blog was not out to say everyone needs to be with people on Christmas. This blog is an attempt to shine light into an area of need for the Church to connect singles at some of their most critical life moments and for the Church to reflect Christ in those times.
How does your church reach single adults? Do they do a good job trying to connect singles? Anything done to ensure the lone single is included during the holidays?
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Singles are great at committing to not committing to anything! As a single adult, you know it’s true! Singles are great at checking “maybe” on a Facebook invite and then waiting to see who will actually click on the “yes” box before they make that commitment. All of this and more is true when it comes to joining a local church. Single adults are transient people. Having only one opinion to consult in decisions to move to a new job, relocate for school, or move across town to a new place all result in single adults not joining a church for fear they may move again soon.
Stop the non-committing! Christ wants you to be “all in” for Him and His people. The excuses are endless, but if you are in a church that is honoring God, preaching His Word, and you are growing in your relationship with Him through that congregation, JOIN! Stand up today single adults and be where you are for however long the Lord will have you there. Join a church, get involved, give of your time, money, and resources to the church you are actively participating in.
Ask the Lord if it is His will you would join the congregation you are in now. If it is not, then you need to start looking for a place He does want you and join. For many singles, when they join a church it may be their first time ever joining a church on their own. They may have been in the church all their lives because their parents were members. Now is the time for you to grow in your faith, invest in a local church, and join in with God’s family.
The death of a spouse is tough. In addition to the grief, there can be the confusion of changing financial arrangements, and the assumption of household and family responsibilities that were once shared. For many, there is also the added challenge of discovering where they now “fit” among the social circles present in their local congregation.
Single adults who were once married cannot be lumped into one big “Single-again” category. Many widows/ers do not think of themselves as single at all. They carry on living, in many ways, as if their spouse were simply away on a trip. Others, however, see a completely new chapter of life before them, and choose to seek out new friendships and opportunities.
Table for One Ministries wants all widows/ers to know you are not alone. The decision to be “single again” is yours and yours alone. We do, however, believe it can be a positive step. After the loss of such a close relationship, the void in life can seem unfillable. Many widows continue on with their current married environments only to find they have less and less in common with them as time moves forward. Widows need other widows and singles who understand their life stage and can sometimes minister to them more effectively than their previous group.
Becoming a widow is not the end of the road, but a new stage of life where bold things can be done and serving the Lord should be center stage. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” Embrace your new life stage as a widow and see where the Lord will lead you next. Your singles group will embrace you with loving arms and you will find a place to connect.
September 2019 marked two years since my world fell apart.
It wasn’t the typical tragedy you hear about in the world. I didn’t lose a spouse, child, or close family member. I was in good physical health. A natural disaster didn’t obliterate my home. It wasn’t even a catastrophic break-up with a man I hoped to marry. Two years and some months ago, I lost my church home. I lost my church community and felt like my world came crashing down around me.
But people leave their church every day, how is my church failing me different?
This was my first church home as an adult, on my own. I grew up in a tiny country congregation that was comprised of at least 40% of family members. As most do, I went wayward and rebelled against my holy teachings. I never quit talking to God, but He definitely was not a major presence in my life. Fast forward and I found myself going to early services, purposely late to skip “happy hug time”, but still showing up to hear the Word and get my worship on. After a year or so of hiding out in my third-row pew, I signed a piece of paper and the rest is history. The Connections minister quickly plugged me in and like Lazarus breathing again, my world was transformed. The hole in my heart was filled and my life had a purpose that I would have never dreamt of. I had a community around me that believed as I did, loved as I loved, and served as I served. I began to understand what it meant to have a real relationship with God and being complete in Christ was really all about.
No church is perfect.
Sometimes called a hospital for sinners, the church is a place where broken people become healed. When I left, it was my own decision, but I truly felt like I had no other option. I sent fervent prayers asking for guidance and peace with whatever may happen. Staying meant the community I loved would be ripped in half like a baby in front of King Solomon. It became clear I had to go. Earlier, I asked when the church had failed me. Yes. Quite simply, my church failed me. Piousness, pride, politics, and a lack of urgency from church leaders ignited the end of my time at the church. But broken people, hurt people, and the church is full of people, none of which are perfect. I did manage to keep some amazing life-long friends with me, but even they grieved over their account what had happened. It was like a tornadic wrecking ball that demolished our lives. What we knew and loved so fiercely was destroyed.
As the dust settled I was numb and broken.
I had an array of emotions and felt lost. How could God let this happen? Especially in His church? How could people who claimed to love God and serve Him do such horrible things? How could those who felt chosen by the Lord to shepherd and minister to His people, not protect them? How could they fail so hard?
Even writing this out is hard. I don’t want to dwell on the darkness, but I think it’s important to acknowledge it. Even though the emotions might not be pleasant to go through, they are all part of the process and teach you something. I’ve tried multiple times over the past year to say I’ve healed completely and am ready to move forward, but then I realize, I’m not always letting God truly heal my heart. As I slowly rejoin church life, I look back on the past two years, multiple tears, and long talks with God. Here is what I’ve learned to do when the church fails you.
Acknowledge your feelings – it’s very easy to auto-pilot a prayer for God’s sovereignty to help ease what you are feeling. But take the time to express your heart respectively to God. Even when Job lost everything he replied to Zophar by saying, “What you know, I know. I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and desire to argue my case to God.” I pleaded, argued, and cried to God for a solid year. I believe God already knows my heart but expressing it out loud was like lifting away the layers of hurt. I went through ALL the feels… Anger, resentment, denial, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. For me, the acceptance came through worship, I’d blare my favorite worship songs with tears streaming down my face and joy filling my heart. The acceptance was that I was a child of God and that even though this pain, there was a triumph to come.
Seek wise counsel– your close friends, family, a minister, a co-worker, or even a counselor. Don’t go to your BFF Betty who loves to gossip and complain. She’ll only make it worse. It’s okay to vent and let out frustration, but… listen to me now… Staying in your own mind is toxic and will keep you away from the Lord. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” By not staying in our own minds and talking to someone wiser, we are able to not only get out our pain but gain direction from a person who can point you back to God.
Know that you have failed as well – this is not true in all cases, again… hurt people, hurt people and we live in a very broken world. But in my case, there were ways I failed others. I began to value my work over my worship and time with God. I put my leadership and my community above God. I created an idol out of the life God had carved out for me. By taking ownership of how I had failed, I began to let go of the anger I felt of losing something and grew closer to God
Don’t fall out of love with God – This is the MOST important of all. God loves you and doesn’t leave you. Even when you are furiously mad and resentful to him, He is still there. Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth.” When the church fails you, it can FEEL like it’s all coming to an end. But God hasn’t left and He relentlessly loves you with reckless abandon (Jeremiah 31:3). Don’t give up because of your pain. Keep your relationship loved and talk to Him. It’s by far, the most important relationship you will have.
I’d love to say as of this publishing date, I’m a new member of a fantastic church where I’m plugged in and part of a deeply rooted community, but that hasn’t happened yet. Being a migrant single for the past two years has added a layer of complexity to solidifying church membership. I am ready to find a community that I can walk through life with. I am ready to trust God to lead me to the perfectly imperfect congregation that I can call my church home. So, this afternoon I’ll go visit a friend’s church. And Lord willing, it may be the one.
Over the year our ministry to singles has had requests to post a list of singles ministry names we found while serving singles and those who lead singles. This list is the names we have experienced with some added suggestions. We would love for you to comment and add your own group names or make suggestions for others as we build a community for single adults through discipleship.
Is a Single-Focused Conference Right For Your Church?
At Table for One Ministries, we recommend you don’t use fancy names for a singles ministry description. Call a group what people are going to put into google a search for in your community! That name will be the most effective and relational name you can pick. Often the best results are naming a group “Singles 20+” or Singles 20’s & 30’s” But if you want a list, here it is 🙂 Remember, a singles group isn’t about dating or a “singles ministry.” It is about being complete in Christ!
At Table for One Ministries we want every church to have an environment in which those struggling with homosexually or acting on their earthly desires can come to find the truth of God’s Word regarding the issue. We have asked those who struggle with same-sex attraction what environment they were in when they shared their struggle and reached out for help. We also asked what the church can do to reach out to men and women like them in an effort help them fight against this struggle.
One shared his struggle first in a group setting of 10-15 guys that had been sharing about sexual struggles they were having. He met with this group for over a year before also admitting he struggled, but in a same-sex attraction way. He shared his experience because another member of the group shared about his same-sex attraction issues. He first talked with a person one-on-one before coming out to a group of men for accountability. All of these guys shared with people they trusted and did not feel like they would be judged or cast off for doing so.
Accountability is a key component for any follower of Christ to grow closer to the Lord. James 5:16 promotes the idea of sharing our sins with one another for the reason being healed through prayer. Like any sin, same-sex attraction needs a group of strong supporters praying for the healing of that person to turn from that sin. Without this network of prayer, the one struggling is left alone to fight that sin. Accountability is also a hard thing to describe. Accountability is not just merely sharing sins to one another, but the act of another believer challenging a person to grow and take positive actions.
While every believer must confess their sins to the Lord and acknowledge Jesus died for those sins, an accountability partner can serve as reinforcement of the commitments we make to the Lord. In these cases, the 10-15 person home groups were broken into assigned accountability partners. While this is a great way to emphasize the importance of accountability, it can lack the cohesiveness needed with a pair of believers to share openly with one another. Accountability through home groups or an intimate setting is the first environment needed to help those struggling with same-sex attraction and have a safe place to share that challenge.
The second environment needed is one that apply too many areas and set by the leader or minister of the group. All participants communicated that the reason they stayed and eventually sought help at a particular church was because their leader mentioned same-sex attraction as one of many sins. This minister made it known it was no worse than any other struggle or sin people face. By him taking time to list struggles that included same-sex attraction, they knew they were in a place to find help. While an environment of trust and awareness needs to be built by a minister, it can also be talked about too often and lose its effect.
Lay leaders also play a supportive role in allowing those with this sin to find a place of healing and accountability. Ministers must train their leaders adequately in what it means to disciple a person and hold them accountable. Both of these can take different amounts of time for each person and require dedication from every leader to seek out intentional relationships with others for the intent of discipleship. For one single adult, a lay leader took time to friend him and ask how he could pray with him and help him in his walk with the Lord. It was during that one-on-one relationship that he shared his struggle and finally started down a road to end the sinful behavior.
If the church is going to be open to helping those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those in the LGBT community, they must provide environments and awareness for their leaders to do so.
Does your church have a place where this type of accountability can occur? If not, what could you do to start such a group?
Complete in Christ not just a lifestyle. It is a mindset that no matter what happens or what worldly influences persist, wholeness is found in the Lord. Single families need to be reminded of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”
Single parents need a Biblical foundation to affirm their family is not an accident. It is not less complete, or in any way a punishment for a lifestyle. Single parents need to acknowledge God knew their child before he or she was even formed in the womb.
For single mothers and fathers out-of-wedlock that means even though the parent did not follow God’s will regarding no sex before marriage, God knew that child’s life before they sinned, and that child’s life is consecrated or set apart by God. There are no mistakes or accidents when it comes to how single families are formed according to God, regardless of the circumstances that create a single family.
Likewise for single parents of adoption, God entrusted the single parent before the adopted child was even conceived. Their adoption is not a chance of fate, but a divine appointment. Their family was planned by a Holy God long before it came to fruition.
For single mothers/fathers that are widowed, there was no mistake about whether they could or could not handle the situation given to them. They are Complete in Christ, and God knew the widow or widower could raise a family alone and that the child would have a home that could be filled to the point each person in the home could be Complete in Christ.
Lastly, for single mothers/fathers of divorce and their children, God hates divorce. As Malachi 2:16 tell us, it is never His plan. But, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7 that even Moses had to grant divorce due to the sinful nature of man. Children should not be a chess piece in divorce or a reminder of a failed past relationship. God knows each child in the womb, and He sets apart each one’s lives. Therefore, single parents of divorce need to be Complete in Christ, even if they were never complete in their prior marriage.
The single parent needs to be mindful of Romans 8 where we are told there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Only Christ can complete someone, not a relationship, and certainly, not a spouse.