A Profile of Singles: Divorced Singles

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A Deeper look at Divorced Singles

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand that type of single adult better or in a different light. We welcome feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry to [email protected]

Characteristics of this Group

Divorced singles come from many different places and backgrounds. Some have been married a few years, while others for decades. Divorce is one of the most emotionally traumatic experiences a person goes through and when they are done with the process, they are single. While over 40% of marriages end in divorce, those who remarry have an even higher chance of divorce. Divorced singles know what it is like to live with someone and share intimate moments. When that is taken away, it becomes hard to process. Men tend to remarry sooner than women but both divorced men and women seek to fill a hole in their emotional lives after divorce.

Ministry Needs in this Group

An emotional hole is left in the life of a recently divorced adult. It does not matter if the divorce was for “good” or “bad” reasons; it is a major life change to experience divorce. Single adults in this category need a support group to help them transition back into the single life. Many do not “know how to date” anymore but more importantly, they need to realize there is no need to date unless it is in God’s plan. Divorced singles may also be single parents and require activities that are friendly for children to participate.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Divorced singles need to be encouraged with the message of being Complete in Christ.  While trying to fill their emotional hole after a divorce, they often make irrational decisions that affect them for years. The mode of communication is not as important as just communicating with them. A bridge needs to be in place from any DivorceCare ministry to the singles ministry to connect them to the larger singles group. Many of them will need a one-on-one with the primary singles leader to determine where and when they will best fit into a group.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

All divorced singles are different. Each divorce is different, and the wounds carried from that divorce will vary. DivorceCare is a great way to reach divorced adults to talk about their pain and process emotions. Through the program at DivorceCare, a single adult can then enter fully into a singles ministry. Though divorced singles should not be isolated from singles during this challenging time, it is encouraged they go through this course to consider all the aspects of being single again. Isolating divorced singles, however,  is never a good long-term strategy. While it is good for a short time like DivorceCare, when they are isolated they tend to dwell on the past more than move forward and focus on Christ.

Resources

Instone, David. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Roberts, Barbara. Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery & Desertion. Ballarat, Victoria: Maschil Press, 2008.

Smoke, Jim. Growing Through Divorce. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1995.

A Profile of Singles: Engaged Singles

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A Deeper look at Engaged Singles

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand each type of single adult better or in a different light. We WELCOME feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry!

Characteristics of this Group

Engaged singles are single. Many times once a couple gets engaged, singles are quick to move on and let the married adult world deal with their needs. Statistics show most couples on their wedding day have known each other for more than three years and were engaged on average for 15 months. Eighty-eight percent of engaged couples end up married with an average attendance at their wedding of 155 people. For those who are engaged, it’s sometimes hard to find a place to fit in. Married adults are in their future, but some may live alone or separately leading up to the wedding, while other couples may live together through their engagement.

Ministry Needs in this Group

Often engaged singles feel as if they do not fit in anywhere. They are in this state of limbo until they are married. Single friends may have parted ways with them, but married adults are still waiting for it to be official to have the engaged couple participate in class events. Engaged singles need counselors available to do premarital sessions in preparation for their marriage. More importantly, a support network is needed for those who decide to break off an engagement and return back to the singles group. This event is always hard on both engaged persons, so the church needs to be ready to respond.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Engaged singles want to know where to find support. It could be support through counseling or support through social interaction. The challenge for Christian organizations is when couples are living together prior to marriage. Often the church will turn away people due to their sinful actions, but the church should not turn away couples in need of direction. Turning them away will only communicate to them that the State should fix their problem instead of the church. Communicating to this group that the Gospel will provide a foundation hopefully moves them to take action to draw closer to God.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

Each engaged couple is different, but they can decide together if moving to a newlywed class is right for them before the wedding day. Our ministry simply encourages them to not be so eager to start a new life together that they forget the people currently in their lives. Engaged singles should stay involved with their current peer groups through their engagement and after their marriage. Singles are very supportive of their engaged friends because most of them desire the same for themselves. To reach this group an organization must have a plan in place for singles to move into married adult groups. This could be a newly married class or a premarital counseling group that meets during the week. The focus is on connecting people to the church and realizing that they are single and some of them may not end up married. Singles ministry needs to be there for single adults through all their life stages, including being engaged.

Resources

Eggerichs, Emerson. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

Harvey, David. When sinners say “I Do”: Discovering the power of the Gospel for marriage. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2007.

Wright, H, Norman. 101 Questions to ask before you get engaged. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2004.

What do you think?

Do you agree with this profile of single adults who have never been married? What resources or information would you add?

The Emperor Has no Clothes: Bruce Jenner and Gender Dysphoria

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Something is wrong; horribly, disturbingly wrong. And it has to do with the way our culture celebrates a mental disorder. Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has brought to the forefront a condition that is growing in notoriety in our culture today, Gender Dysphoria.

This public spectacle reminds me of the old fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, the Emperor’s vanity has allowed him to be duped into believing that he is wearing magical clothing that can only be seen by those who are wise. He doesn’t see the clothes himself but is afraid to say so for fear of being labeled a fool. In fact, no one sees the clothes because they do not exist, but no one will speak up for the same fear. One day he parades through town with his new “clothes” until one little boy has the courage to speak up and tell him that he is in fact naked.

Back to Bruce Jenner. Those who suffer from Gender Dysphoria, also known as Gender Identity Disorder or G.I.D. for short, have strong feelings that they are the opposite gender of their biological reality. Often they choose to have their bodies altered to reflect what they feel to be their true identity. This is what Bruce has done and now his decision is celebrated and applauded by nearly every media outlet.

As a Christian I struggle with knowing how to react when the culture celebrates someone’s decision to chase their happiness through drugs, hormone therapy, and gender reassignment surgery. I want to know what I should do, what I should say. Should I just remain silent? Celebration and applause doesn’t feel right. If I speak about my misgivings will I be castigated in the court of public opinion? How do I speak words of hope and healing when I don’t understand what people like Bruce, or Caitlyn, if you prefer, are going through?

I begin with two truths from God’s Word. First, God created us male and female (Gen 1:27). Second, there was intention in how each of us was created (Psalm 139:13-16). We can, therefore, deduce that the gender we are born with is not a mistake. We are who we are because that is God’s will for us. If I decide not to follow God’s will for my life, God calls that rebellion. Now there is something I know a little something about (a lot, really).

G.I.D. is really just another symptom of the fall of man. I don’t mean to oversimplify such a complex issue as G.I.D. However, original sin makes us all want to be something different than what God wants for us. We are all prone to choose our own way. Sin has distorted our view of God, it has distorted our view of others, and it has distorted our view of ourselves.

So back to how I react when faced with the media storm surrounding Bruce Jenner. First, I react with love, love for a fellow human being who needs the love and mercy of a righteous and just God. Then I speak the truth in love. Bruce Jenner will not find peace in being someone other than who God has created him to be.

There is only one way to peace, hope, and joy in who you are created to be. It is found in Jesus. Placing my faith and trust in Him means that I trust that He created me just the way He wanted me. I am not too short, my skin is not too pale, and I am the gender He wants me to be. All feelings to the contrary are a rebellion of who God has created me to be and therefore sinful. All sin leads to death (Rom 3:23) and for anyone to encourage others to revel in their rebellion is not helpful; it is destructive and mean.

I just feel like someone has to speak the truth!

 

A Profile of Singles: Dating Singles

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A Deeper look at Dating Singles

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand that type of single adult better or in a different light. We welcome feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry to [email protected]

Characteristics of this Group

Singles looking to date can come from many backgrounds; divorced, single parent, widowed, or never married. Nearly 45% of adults in America are single. This means there is a large variety of singles looking to possibly date at any life stage. Often a church is in a difficult place to find someone to date as some singles may have grown up in the church or the church has a small single adult population. Many singles turn to social events, bars, and dating services because the church lacks a diverse single adult population.

Ministry Needs in this Group

Having a relationship with God is priority number one for dating singles. Before bringing someone into their life, single adults have the opportunity for an amazing relationship with the One who created them. Just like Adam in the garden, singles need to have a strong relationship with God first before seeking a relationship with another person. Who singles are in Christ before they marry will be who they are to their spouse when they are married. Since dating singles come from all backgrounds, never assume they are never married or do not have children. The primary need for this group is to have a loving intimate relationship. That need can be provided through a relationship with Christ and does not require a spouse to feel complete.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Communication to dating singles can be challenging as so many secular companies and social media groups target this demographic. Dating singles have TV, radio, social sites, websites, search engines, family and friends all pushing for the single to be complete with in a relationship with another person. Singles hear the phrase “you’ll be happier in a relationship.” But, it’s a disservice to promote this attitude.

 

Happiness does not come by any relationship except through Christ. So to communicate to this group effectively, the message needs to be focused on anything but dating and marriage. Singles hear enough from the secular world about the need to date. The Church needs to be the place where singles come and find the truth based in Scripture.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

To target the dating single adult, an organization must be willing to grow and reach out to new single adults. Doing so will diversify the adults looking to date within the group and offer a wider variety to those looking to date with potential options. It is not the role of the church to offer a dating service to those looking to date, but certainly reaching new adults for Christ and integrating them into the church is effective. Singles who are not dating do not want to hear about how great marriage will be for them one day, especially since many are wondering if they will ever find a person to wed. Rather, organizations need to focus on growing in community and discipleship to help further the relationship of dating single adults. Doing so will elevate their relationship with Christ as the most important one in their life, so that when they do date their priorities in the correct place.

 

Single Myths: Singles Have More Time

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We all have 24 hours in a day.

Now, let us be clear. Singles do not have more time than married folks, but our interests are not divided as much as those with a spouse or kids. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul said we all have the same amount of time every day and our priorities drive decisions on how we will use that time.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Singles are often glamorized by the married adult world as being “free” and able to go on missions “anywhere, anytime.” While this glamorization is extreme, there is truth in that married adults often have more obligations that single adults. Marriage is a big deal. Two people become one and no longer is your world “I” but “we” and, with kids, it is “us.” Paul is addressing that issue by stating what we all know to be true. It is a very real issue that faces every couple and family.

Divided interests in a man’s life can take away from their opportunities to be used by God.

One thing to point out is Paul is single as he write this. We think he loved being single! Being single allowed Paul to travel and spread the gospel with an All-In obedience to Him. He did not have to worry about family at home or traveling with him or the commitments of a marriage relationship as some of the apostles had.

So the myth that singles have more time is based not in measuring days, hours, and minutes, but rather in wholehearted devotion to God and not having divided interests of emotional, spiritual, and actual “time.”

Singles, use your life in undivided devotion to Christ. This is why we say “Be Complete In Christ” at Table for One Ministries. A person fully devoted for the Kingdom can do more than those whose attention is divided. Dedicate your each day to the Lord and live for Him.

3 Reasons Your Singles Ministry is Failing

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Years ago singles ministries were everywhere. Every church had one, and it was seemingly exciting and attractive to the community. Then something happened–they all started to disappear.

First there were no new people entering singles groups. Many married from within the group and simply by attrition the ministry dwindled in numbers as it failed to reach new singles. Secondly, others fell into the trap of not looking outward but inward finding that they struggled too much with themselves to even reach others. A third type of single ministry was a hybrid of the two, creating the ultimate singles ministry collapse resulting in only “single for a reason” folks remaining in the group. You all know what we mean by that! The group was left with unhealthy people and healthy people do not want to join unhealthy groups.

So, here are three things your singles ministry may be doing to set the group up for failure.

# 1 It is not about Christ

  • When social events become the base of any group, the focus is less about Christ. Groups like these focus more on providing environments for people to meet one another thus creating a “meat market” of sorts.
  • The Solution: Focus the group on the Word of God. Home groups, Sunday School, cell groups, whatever you call them–make them the center of all you do. Secondly, make missions fun and schedule them just as much, if not more, than social events. More about this in #3

# 2 Singles have no community

  • Gone are the days of throwing together a meal once a week and expecting community to happen. While that is a vital part of community, when you are targeting all the various backgrounds of singles added with their multi-generational nuances, you have to be intentional about building community through discipleship means like Bible Studies and Sunday School.
  • The Solution: Ensure your primary teaching times involve group interaction with both co-ed and gender specific groups. A mix of these groups often will help build community more broadly than just a master-teacher time that occurs at the same time, same place every week.

# 3 Singles do not serve, they are served

  • A singles group that lack missions will lack the ability to see outside of themselves. Mission based events direct the attention of people away from their struggles and “singleness” towards helping others. When singles are being served social events constantly they forget Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28.

The Solution: Have mission events often. Really. Often. Your singles group needs to be just as aware about the next mission event as they are aware about the fun retreat you have planned. Share pictures from the event and personally invite individuals to your upcoming mission event. Delegate an event to someone and watch your group take charge to reach the lost and show love to others in need.

How Does Your Church Preach on Same-Sex Attraction?

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Three Actions to Take Now to Reach Those Struggling with SSA

When was the last time your pastor preached on same-sex attraction? Did he even call it that or did he call it homosexuality, gay, and other terms? Singles ministry and this issue are biblically woven together. The majority who struggle with or engage in same-sex attraction are single. Often times, when pastors are so focused on condemning the sin, they neglect important points:

1. Call it what it is, Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)

Some words are so arming that the message of love and acceptance is never heard. Encourage your pastor to use the term Same-Sex Attraction when talking about the issue. Reason being, someone may hear “gay” and think they aren’t, but hear SSA and think “Yeah, I do struggle with that.” Words matter.

2. Singles Ministry can reach those who STRUGGLE with SSA

Many churches are not comfortable dealing with this issue, but singles ministry should be. Regardless whether your church has a singles minister or not, singles ministry is a place for those that struggle to find healing, hope, and love in a church environment. When the church can align biblically on this issue, they have the opportunity to provide love instead of condemnation.

Struggle is the key word of SSA. When someone is struggling, they are open to God’s love. If they are not fighting the battle with sin, the Holy Spirit cannot work in their lives. Encourage the struggle!

3. Define the “Win” for those who struggle with SSA

The “win” here is not for those that struggle to be married with three kids. Nope, the victory in this sin, like all others, is found in the power of Christ changing lives and Him becoming the most important relationship. Being complete in Christ and not an earthly relationship is the win, not acting out in a heterosexual lifestyle due to struggling with SSA. After all, with any sin, choosing to act on our worldly desires is the issue, not the fact we all struggle with sin.

Table for One Ministries is committed to reaching singles of all backgrounds and generations. We want to build community through discipleship for all single adults. If you need more information on this issue, contact us at [email protected]. We would love to help!

To Marry or Not: Living Together

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As a leader in your singles ministry you will have a dating couple in your group at some point that choose to live together or have a couple come into your group already living together. Sometimes these cohabiting/fornicating/living in sin adults will find their way to a married adult class trying to pass off as a “normal married or engaged” couple. Regardless of the entry point into the church these adults are singles until the wedding day. Then comes the dilemma for the church.

This cohabiting couple wants to marry, but your pastor will not marry a couple living together. While there are many angles to this situation, the product of the church’s position has communicated to this couple to “let the state fix our problem and not the church.” Sure the minister can say separate until the wedding day, but reality is they are living together most likely to save money or they can not make enough to live alone. So demanding a move often never happens. After all, if the church denies the request for this couple to marry, they can go to the courthouse and in a week be married. The church must meet people where they are, but hold the line on what Scripture clearly says is a sin.

So will the same church who said no to the union now say yes to the marriage? Affirming that the state government can fix a situation that the church could not?

Two Homosexuals Walk Into Your Church

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At Table for One Ministries we have written several blogs on our stance regarding same-sex attraction. In this blog, we are addressing leaders in the local church regarding how to deal with a homosexual couple that comes to visit your church. First, let’s be very clear. Those that are actively engaged in a homosexual lifestyle are single. That is how the Bible defines it and that is how we as ministry define it. That stated, here are some things to address.

1. You can not and should not assume someone is living a homosexual lifestyle. Assumptions lead to mistakes. When dealing with this issue, never ask a person if they struggle with same-sex attraction or ask a couple if they are in fact homosexuals. It is a private matter, they will address with you when they feel it appropriate.

2. The church should not and cannot resource the homosexual lifestyle. Resources come in the form of acknowledging the relationship in class, groups, or financial couple support. This comes to play when deciding which class to take a couple who has told you they are openly living the homosexual lifestyle. The response is not “nowhere”, the response is your singles ministry because those who struggle with this are single. This should be just as true for the church when heterosexual couples are living together and want to be involved in a married class.

3. Love as Christ Loves

1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Too often love is forgotten in the name of Biblical correctness. If you encounter this situation remember first to show the same love you have been given by Christ to the person you want to see the love of Christ.

Single and Considering an Abortion

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The world tells us you that as a single you cannot raise a child alone. Regardless of the life in you, your life and priorities come first. After all, how will you raise a child by yourself? This lie is spread by some who are pro-choice in an attempt for a mother-to-be to feel empowered to chose what God has already allowed. Ironically, once society gets past this decision, mothers, Christian or not, can find all kinds of support for raising a family with one parent.

Enter your church’s singles ministry. A place where a mother can find hope and family to help raise her new child. Singles’ groups are always fluctuating with people getting married, and hopefully, new guests coming into the group. But this environment is where single mothers need to find friends and community combined with preschool, children, and youth ministries for their child. Do not segment out these ladies or men. They need other singles to come alongside them and provide support for both parent and child.

When your church has a singles ministry, single parents should never have to raise their children alone regardless of how that child entered this world.

Single leaders, reach out to pregnancy centers and connect single mothers to your group and church to find a place to call home.