Single Adult POV Two Years into COVID

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“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.”

Singles POV.

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.

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Time with God

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There are some excellent reading plans available to read the entire Bible in a year or even 90 days. These plans are great, and we encourage you to try one at least once. As a follower of Christ, you need to build a relationship with Him and know Him better. This comes through many venues. You can worship the Lord in praise. You can read about Him in His Word. You can also spend time with Him in prayer. All these require one thing: time.

As a single adult you might have been told “you have more time than married adults, so it is easier for you to spend time with God.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Every human has 24 hours in a day and can use that time as they choose based on priorities. It is a priority to get to work on time, so you do. It is a priority to eat food a few times a day to stay healthy, so you do. But it is the things we don’t prioritize that get shuffled lower on the to-do list and not accomplished. Single adults may or may not have children to tend during the day, and married adults have responsibilities to their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:33-35), but everyone sets priorities.

If you value exercise, you wake up early to work out. If you value TV time, you stay up late to catch your favorite shows. If you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength, you will make time for Him and He will be a priority in your life (Luke 10:27). Time with God does not always have to be reading His Word, although that is how we grow in the knowledge of Him. It may be just meditating on Him for a few moments every day and giving praises to Him for the great things He has done (Psalm 111).

Make time with God a priority as a single adult. If your relationship status changes, this will serve as a successful foundation for your marriage. Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior is the first step. The next step is to follow and know Him better.

What do you do to make time with God every day?

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.

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.

Being a Church Where Same-Sex Attraction Singles are Welcomed

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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?

Another Closed Door

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When my marriage of 14 years ended against my wishes, I drove to and from work, often not remembering how I got there. When I arrived home at the end of the day, I found myself staring at the television without registering what was on. I was a zombie. All I could think was, “What now? I’m alone.”

That feeling eventually dissipated but not without the comfort of Christ. I grabbed onto the promise of God stated in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When relationships end, it’s easy to have a pity party. To relive everything said or done. To grow angry or depressed. To calculate how you need to change to guarantee you will not be alone again. Yet focusing and obsessing on all of these things can take the Believer’s focus off where it needs to be.

It may take some time to pull yourself out of the doldrums, but lingering in the darkness is not where God wants us to be. We are called to walk in His light, to be a light for His kingdom.

No matter what changes your relationship status goes through, one thing remains constant. Your relationship with Christ will never end! Be Complete in Christ! Hold fast to the promise. Your earthly relationships may change or end, but not His!

Is Sexting OK in My Relationship

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For those unaware, sexting is a form of provocative language between a couple using electronic communication. In a relationship, couples will often find creative ways to convey their love to one another. In years of old, this may have been letter writing or heaven forbid an actual conversation.

In any relationship communication is key, but what type of communication is profitable? For an unmarried couple sexting is crossing a line of respect for the boundaries of the relationship that honors God. If you have to ask ”Would God approve of this?” then you need to reconsider why you are doing it in the first place! At the core of these words you will find lust, and lust is sinful–not playful, and not loving.

Our response to dating singles is sexting crosses the line, it is lust and it is wrong. Even once you are engaged, it should be off-limits; you are not married and need to save something special to share after your big day. EVEN THEN, let us all not forget that the NSA is reading most anything we send and the high profile people caught sexting and the embarrassment it caused. So keep your text above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2) and have a happy, God honoring relationship.

A Single Budget: How Can I Have a Life When I Have No Money?

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What a great church service you had this morning. Now all your friends from the Singles Group are heading out to lunch. You know your money is tight and a constant headache, but you just can’t take going back to your apartment and having something frozen. Besides you deserve to go out to eat because (insert reason here).

The truth is, if you don’t have the money in your budget for this meal out, then you don’t deserve it. In fact, you don’t deserve the hurt you are causing yourself by spending money that you don’t have. We all have a 5-year old living inside of us. That 5-year old doesn’t care about a Spending Plan.  That 5-year old wants what it wants, and wants it NOW!

Sometimes we have to tell our inner 5-year old “no.” That is harder to do when we don’t have a spouse or parents helping us keep ourselves in-check. So, does that mean we should put on a sack cloth and go home to eat our frozen dinner alone, never to have any fun again? Absolutely not! It just means that you need to be creative with a little discipline thrown into the mix.

Knowing that the group typically goes out, come up with some good alternatives. For example, you could pack a sandwich or a snack to eat on the way and then just fellowship with them once at the restaurant. This doesn’t mean go and order water and then fill up on the free chips and salsa. You need to do what is right and don’t forget to tip the server.  They are still serving you even if you just order a drink. Another idea would be to offer alternatives such as suggesting the group brown-bag it to a park one week, invite everyone to your place for a potluck, or share 2 for 1 coupons in order to reduce the cost of your meal.

Keep in mind, this is temporary. You won’t have to do this forever, just while you are getting to a better place in your finances. Keep your eye on the prize which is winning with your finances.

A Single Budget: So What’s the Plan?

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So, you are single, carefree and are thinking a week at a beach house with your buddies sounds like a great vacation. Or maybe you are a single parent who wants to give your 7-year old and your 9-year old the magical vacation that every child dreams of…a trip to Disney World! So you just grab a soda and jump in the car and go, right? Of course not! With no plan or thought put into it, that would just be crazy. So why do we treat our money any differently?

Have you ever gone to pay for something with a $20 bill only to find it isn’t in your wallet anymore? Yeah, me too. What happened? You just got $80 out from the bank ATM a couple of days ago. So where is it now? If you don’t have a plan for that $80, it vanishes.

Whether you are a planner or not, when it comes to money you have to have a plan. Otherwise, your money just goes and you don’t have control. As Dave Ramsey says, tell every single dollar where to go on paper before even one of them leaves your hand. Having a spending plan sounds constraining, but if you can do it for 90-days, you suddenly find it very freeing.

“The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor.” Proverbs 21:5. Although having a spending plan is a little uncomfortable to start, it sets you up to have success with your money, to take care of you and your family, and to experience the joy of making others’ lives better.

So what is your plan?

Lady Porn

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Ladies, don’t think you are immune to the trap of pornography. According to XXXChurch.com, 49% of women found pornography an acceptable way of expressing sexuality. Thirteen percent of women admit to viewing pornography at work and one of every three visitors to porn websites are women. Even worse, 34% of church-going women admit to looking at pornography.

This is not a conversation about whether a novel you might have read is a version of porn. No, this is a reality that graphic erotica is gripping females just as it does males, and the stats show this issue is on the rise.

Porn is a Lie.

In Romans 7, Paul talks about the desire to do good but still falling into sin, until the power of the cross takes over your life. As a single adult, you may think that looking at pornography is okay since you are not in a relationship. We have even heard singles say it is acceptable because they may never find someone and that is an outlet for them. But, Matthew 5:28 tells us that even looking at someone in lust is committing sin in our hearts.

Hebrews 12:4 says, ”In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” It is a sin, and yes, the Lord expects you to live a life free of pornography. Have you truly resisted in your fight with pornogrphy? To the point of shedding your own blood?

As a single adult male or female, one day you may find someone and enter into a relationship. Your choices as a single regarding lust and pornography will be an issue. Marriage does not fix lust and addiction to pornography.

It is a heart issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. If you need help with breaking this addiction, please visit xxxchurch.com for resources and internet-accountability tools. But, remember, there is NO internet accountability tool that can keep someone from finding pornography. But there is the strength of Christ to avoid seeking it.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

Take a stand in your heart and before God, then find an accountability partner to make it “Not an Option.” Make porn “Not an Option” in your life and walk in a new light, free from the darkness of pornography.