3 Lies Single a Pastor Believes

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Being called to bi-vocational or vocational ministry is unique and as rewarding as it is terrifying. Compound that with being a single adult and the calling to ministry that once felt like a spiritual high now feels like an island of isolation. Carrying the burdens of day-to-day ministry alone will often feel less than whole to the American ideal of a married couple with a family and pet.


Single pastor, you are not alone. Those whispers of loneliness and inadequacy are not founded in Scripture. However, the emotions of feeling that way are seen in several Biblical examples! Here are three things you might be telling yourself as truth when they are not.

I need a wife to complete my ministry
• The apostle Paul is walking on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 when God calls him to ministry as a single adult. Scripture is silent on if Paul was married before. Given his past role as a Pharisee, he is likely a widower or a type of single adult at his calling into ministry. God did not require a wife for Paul to be called or be active in ministry. In fact, God used it as an asset in his life in several ways to proclaim the Gospel.

I need a family to have credibility
• Paul writes to the church at Corinth and in several areas of relationships as a single adult. He gives advice on being single, getting married, how to have a great marriage, and defines love. The church heard his message as a single adult. He used his singleness as an advantage.

I need to be married to be taken seriously by others
• Pastor, more than any other lie, this one is far from the Lord. You are complete in Christ. Jesus was single. As a minister of the Gospel, you stand on the promise of Colossians 2:10 and are complete in Christ. Other people will say things, think things, or attack you for not “understanding” where they come from. Remember, Jesus shared examples of Biblical truths, not from his experiences but from the promises of God. You carry that same authority and can humbly communicate Biblical truths in any situation. As for if you will be taken “seriously” or not, that is not under your control. Be faithful to proclaim the Scripture and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

If these lies are believed, they will handicap your ministry to faithfully carry out the calling in your life. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Be complete in Christ and surround yourself with community.

Distracted

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Life is full of distractions. We’re distracted at work, at home, with media, and even our local churches. It’s not hard to wonder why it’s so hard to stay focused on the most important things in our life. How we handle distractions is a part of maturing our faith. Choosing the difference between a distraction and God’s calling is vital to following Christ.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt. 4:19, NIV)

Do you find yourself starting a task, only to pick up your phone at the first ding of text notice? Could you go more than an hour without picking up your phone? Longer?

I often remind myself, I survived for years without a cell phone. I didn’t always get a phone message until I arrived home and checked the answering machine. Sometimes that was late into the evening. Friends didn’t panic. Family didn’t call 911. We just trusted that God had a plan and it didn’t usually involve immediate gratification and the distractions of media devices.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NIV)

Jesus instructed his followers to do just that–Follow. He didn’t add, “when you can.” “If you have time.”

Being obedient requires a focus and Him and His calling for you this moment, this day, this week, this life. It may mean saying no to events. It may mean saying no to the four-hour marathon of your favorite show. And, yes, at times, it may mean not filling up our weekend schedule with friends and family. Sometimes we just need to turn off the world off for an hour, a day, a weekend, a week and spend time with Him.

When I find I’m getting agitated with the little things, I’m reminded that I’m not doing the Big Thing. Shutting off the noise of music, television, computer, phones brings me back to where I should have never left.

We all know we need to sometimes turn off the distractions, but how often do we take the challenge? Is it time? Turn off the noise. Ignore the distractions. Turn up the volume of Christ in your life. Spend time with Him today and follow where He leads.

Join Already!

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“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.”

James 4:13-15

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.

What To Do When the Church Fails You

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First and foremost, I want to say this is not a piece bashing the church. Did the church fail me? Were there consequences? Yes and yes. What am I doing now? But most importantly, what did God do?


 

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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.

Names for a Singles Ministry

Table for One Ministries - Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Names for a Singles Ministry

Names for a Singles Ministry

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.


 

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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!

  • Single Focus
  • Single Life
  • The Bridge
  • Solo
  • Single Adults Living Truth (S.A.L.T.)
  • Singularity
  • The Porch (https://www.theporch.live/)
  • F.O.C.A.S. (Fellowship of Christian Adult Singles)
  • Focus on One
  • Interfaze
  • One For the Lord
  • One is a Whole Number
  • Single and Soaring Singles Ministry
  • Single Life Ministries
  • Table for One
  • Single Purpose
  • Single Vision
  • Singled Out
  • Solo Flight
  • S.W.A.T. (Singles With A Testimony) Team
  • The Edge (Every Day Giving Everything)
  • Victorious Single Living Ministries
  • Flourish
  • “The Well” of ______ Community Church
  • “High Point” Singles Ministry (ages 35+)
  • The Bridge (ages 35-50)
  • The Peak (Ages 45+)
  • Positive Single Adults
  • City Wide Singles
  • Real Life Singles Ministry
  • Singles Alive in Christ
  • Single Life Ministries
  • Singles Source
  • SingleSource (ages 30+)

Ready to take your Singles Ministry to the Next Level?

Download a FREE Sample of our Singles Ministry Curriculum!

 

Names for a Singles Ministry | Table for One Ministries

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Separated or Single?

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He walked out on his marriage a month ago and comes to your church. He’s brand new and comes to the singles group. He seems nice and you greet him, talk to him, and connect him. Over lunch that week, he mentions that he is recently divorced. As the conversation progresses, you realize that when he says “divorced” he mean that he has left his wife and the “paperwork” is still “in process”. So then, is this person divorced? As a minister of the Gospel, how do you counsel him? Is he single or is he married?

A real world problem for singles ministries is dealing with a person who is separated but not divorced or, in our view, even single. Table for One Ministries defines divorced as “The papers are filed” for a reason. We believe that until a divorce is legally finalized that person is married. Marriage is a sacred commitment and by all means should be fought for until the end. Separated is nothing more than married but not together. It’s still marriage.

This is NOT to say singles ministries cannot help. The church can and must help in this situation, but singles ministry should be for singles not married adults. The problem is introducing a hurting, frustrated, married person to a group of happy, healthy single people does not encourage the married person to seek God’s strength to fight for their marriage. Instead, it encourages them to abandon their marriage and seek the “happy single life” they see in front of them.We can hear the criticism now:  “Every case is different and there should be exceptions,” “Divorces can take years,” and “Things are over, so why wait?”

We encourage the waiting to give God time to work. Emotions run high during separations, and they need to be given time to let God speak to BOTH people involved.

To those separated: marriage commitment is a big deal. Leaving it should not be a simple task. Allow God to move and even if that divorce takes months to sort out, take time to heal before looking to engage the single adult world. Leaders, protect your singles from getting involved with a married person, and encourage the separated adult looking to get involved in a married adult group first, giving God time to work in their life.

Will God Still Love Me After an Abortion?

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She’s in your ministry. She’s had an abortion. She wonders, will God love her again? As believers, we are passionate about saving the unborn, but that passion fails to communicate our love for the mothers. The good news is that in the last two decades there has been a substantial drop in abortions. The other news is people have had or still choose to have abortions, and the church needs to be ready to minister to these women.

According to the CDC, almost 50% of all abortions happen when women are in their 20’s. So while those who’ve done this could be older,  the chances are as a singles ministry you know women in their 20’s who’ve aborted a child. How will you minister to her?  Have you stopped to think what kind of language people use about abortions in your ministry? Would a girl who has had an abortion be welcomed in your group?

 “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”    1 John 4:12

To the singles ministry looking to reach those who have had abortions, remember the love, not judgement, you show should reflect God.

To the female reading this who has had an abortion: God is love. He loves you. No matter the sin, affliction, temptations, and horrible thoughts we do. He. Loves. You. If you want to have a relationship with Him, follow this link for more information.

Do I expose my old life to share with others?

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A single wrote into us asking “I really need to help another person thru their addiction… in order to provide inspiration, I have to expose my prior self… I am trying my best to let Christ rule my life, and I think I am surrendering to Him… my question to you is, do I expose my prior life as an example to the other person at a possible expense for me losing, in others eyes, or do I just go on with what my heart tells me to do? Please pray on this matter with me as it could affect not just his future life, but mine as well…”

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30

Dear friend, we can tell in your question that whatever the affliction you had in your past was a painful one and not an addiction you share with most people. It does seem, however, that you have connected with this person and the Lord is prompting you to share with them your pain so that God may be glorified. As Paul said above, if you are going to talk about anything, why not make it those things that expose us for what we truly are, weak and sinners.

The view of those around you should not be based on your perfection, but Christ’s perfection! While we cannot tell you what to do, we can only suggest that in sharing your past you are allowing God to use what Satan meant for destruction for His glory. Try not to hide behind the sins of your past as your future is built of those successes and missteps. We are praying for you!

Single for a Reason?

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Through my many years of singles ministry and working with pastors, one phrase is repeated often — “single for a reason”. It is the idea that singles are composed of misfits and odd ducks that are stranger than… married people. Next time you hear this phrase, here are some possible responses:

 

We’re all messed up

  • The false promise of this statement at its core is that it compares married and single adults and deems one group inferior or strange. Would someone not be “single for a reason” simply if his/her marital status changed? It is the same person but with a different marital status and still “odd” or “quirky” in nature. The point is categorizing people as more “together” or “not together” by their marital status should cease. A married adult ministry is filled with the same adults who were once single, and for that reason, we are all the same messed-up Christ followers, in need of the same church family and support.

 

Reject rejecting language

  • When you’re in the presence of this phrase being used, why just stand back, laugh, and lower your eyes in agreement? Ministry is full of people, each unique, and sometimes just plain odd. That doesn’t mean their relationship status is for any reason other than following God’s direction in their life. Let’s stop language that tears down other believers in Christ as inferior and, instead, see ministry opportunities where we are called to love God and love others.

 

Leadership matters

  • Is it really a group of people’s fault when a group declines with individuals who may need extra ministry attention? Pastors, we argue it is vital to have leadership that is following your church’s direction and God’s vision for your community. In singles ministry, nearly 50% of the adults in the group will be married at some point, so by nature, it requires more leadership recruitment and investment than other ministries. However, doing so will lead to a vibrant singles ministry and an adult ministry with leaders on fire for the Lord.

 

The reason you or a group of people are “… for a reason” is not due to a stereotype associated with a marriage status. It is due to a perception we allow to be pervasive in our churches regarding singles. Singles are a whole person. Jesus was single. Paul advocated for singles. We should start valuing our ministry opportunities rather than passing judgment on certain people groups in the family of God.

Let Your Yes be YES!

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Let’s be honest. Singles are horrible about waiting until the last minute to commit. After all, something better, more fun, cooler, even a date!– might actually come along. We wait to reply yes on Facebook in fear that if we say yes then a better offer might come along. Singles even often use the phrase “planning on it” as a way to say yes, but something could happen.

When the Sunday School list to sign up for breakfast next week comes around you pass it on because you have not even committed to coming next week to church. A mission event is posted to our Facebook group. It sounds fun but is it the best option? Maybe something else will come up before then and cause you to choose the other event over the missions outing.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought or done any of the above. We see you. We hear you. We’ve done it too.

We need to be seeking the Lord’s path. By not discerning the choice He wants us to make, we can chose incorrectly. It is only with HIS strength that we can choose and choose wisely. When we are called and respond with a yes, deciding at the last minute that you aren’t in the mood or you’d rather go hang with that other group, is the wrong choice. Foregoing God’s choice for our own choice should not be an option for a Christ Follower. God’s Word is clear. We need to be followers of Christ that commit to our actions

When you commit to anything, do so like you are committing to God. Learning to commit in the small things will result in being trusted to commit in the bigger things in Life.

Be like Abraham.

By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was  going to receive as an inheritance; he went out not knowing where he was going.

(Hebrews 11:8). (ESV)

Be a Person who commits to where they are at.

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.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

(James 4:13-17) (NIV)

Be a Disciple of Christ.

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

(Luke 14:27) (NIV)

Be a one word answer person

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

(Matthew 5:37) (NIV)

Say yes to the singles event. Say yes to the local mission. Say yes and commit, knowing full well that God has something big planned and you don’t want to miss it!