Limiting Guests at Holidays Limits God’s Kingdom

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Matthew 9:10-13 tells us that Jesus gives the perfect example of who He feels should be at our dining table. “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples (NASB).”

Jesus did not always dine with family and friends and didn’t block opportunities to eat with sinners, nor should we.

Jesus sometimes dined in the homes of brothers and sisters in Christ. Six days before Passover, Jesus ate with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in a house that was not His. But in Luke 14:12-14, Jesus instructs:

When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors; otherwise, they may also invite you in return, which will be your repayment (NIV).”

His instructions expressly point to inviting strangers to dine with us.

Although following these instructions is not the norm during the holidays, it may take us out of our comfort zones. The rewards we reap will be earthly, and, more importantly, Kingdom rewards may be found. Since the Believer’s mission is to share Jesus, a casual dining experience lends itself to getting to know a stranger, establishing trust, and allowing an opportunity to share Jesus. Sometimes the conversation is opened to the chance during the first dinner. Often it takes several meals where you may feel led to share Jesus. With consistent prayer and effort, God will open the door, and you will be able to discern the time to do so.

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Jesus even took the time to dine with those others considered His enemy. In Luke 7:36, we are told, “Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table (NASB).” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He didn’t consider the thoughts of others.

Jesus took action, knowing full well how others would perceive His actions. He led by example.

Even if the first meal with an acquaintance doesn’t seem like the opportunity to share your testimony, your actions and words, including prayer before the meal, can serve as an example and open conversation. Your new friend may ask, “Why do you pray?” or “Do you pray before every meal?” The most straightforward action may open the door for a stranger to become a brother and sister in Christ.

Single Pastors: Don’t Believe These 3 Lies

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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.

How to Start a Singles Ministry or Group

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  1. Pray. This may seem like an obvious step, but sometimes an idea is acted upon out of enthusiasm and not with a clear plan guided by His hand.

You are likely to know several singles in your church. Enlist their help as you pray towards God’s plan. And when asked, “does your church have a singles group,” don’t answer with a simple no. Ask the person to pray with you. Go to the church staff and ask them to pray about it. Talk to your Sunday class about your desire to see singles gathered and request they pray about it also.

  1. Gather single adult leaders. Establish a core group of mature Believers with a heart for reaching singles. Listen to their input.

Find others with enthusiasm and willingness for the long haul. Ask for a commitment. Ask for input. Delegate tasks as the core group steps into leadership roles.

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  1. Have an outreach plan. Use the core group to make a plan, set goals and deadlines.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. The core group not only needs a plan, they need clear goals and deadlines for the steps to form an active group of singles with a heart for Christ.

  1. Plan ahead with events, missions, etc. As you meet with the core group, it will become obvious who has the heart for playing host or hostess. Divide the duties so no one feels overwhelmed.

Start with a big bang but have events in place beyond the first call to singles. When there is momentum, you don’t want to lose individuals by saying, “we’ll let you know what’s next.” Instead have a second and perhaps third event already in the works from the core group. Then share those details at the initial singles group gathering. For every social event plan a missions event and weekday Bible Study opportunity. Keep in mind you will offer more than people will attend, but opportunities spur growth.

  1.  Keep the momentum going. Try new events. Invite others. Establish small groups for specific tasks.

Move forward, seek out new ideas, keep praying and make certain established members of the group welcome new members with an open heart. Remind the group how difficult it can be to enter a room and not know anyone. And, when someone shows up for a second time, make them part of the group by assigning even a small task.

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

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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!

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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!