We southerners are famous for the phrases we use. I still don’t know what half of them mean, but they’re a hoot to say. A few of my favorite ones are: “what in the WORLD?” (or as my true-southern Mamma likes to say: “what in this DEAR world?”), “what on EARTH?” and “what in the SAM HILL?”.
When I was researching singles ministry ideas before the one at church got off the ground, I ran across some excellent articles by a guy named John Gunter—living on the other side of the world at the time. It turns out that he has not only experienced the upsides and downsides of singles ministries, but I feel like I know him in a small way. John’s best friend, who is in Heaven now, was from the same young family who lived next door to my mom and her roommate after college in the late 1960’s in Atlanta, Georgia.
Talk about a small world.
But isn’t that how God works? Bringing just the right words, using just the right people when you really need to hear from Him?
After reading an exceptional article entitled “The Fallacy of a singles ministry & the beauty of Biblical obedience”, I was challenged to start praying about what God wanted the singles ministry at church to look like, if He wanted there to be one.
So with John’s permission, I wanted to share some of his thoughts with you:
The fallacy of “singles ministry” & the beauty of Biblical obedience
Dreams of What Could Be
What would it look like if churches became serious about not seeing singles as merely a ministry within the church, but instead started viewing us as a force to be mobilized within our cities and around the world?
What would it look like if, instead of investing countless hours, massive amounts of money and all of our best energies on “finding the right one,” we as singles simply viewed our lives as not our own?
What if, instead of asking “Where can I find a mate?”, we FIRST asked “Where is God working and how can I be a part?” This is my dream for single American Christians.
I can think of several benefits for singles like me first looking to Christ and the world at large instead of looking first to find a wife or husband.
- Glorious kingdom of God expansion –Some of the best missions and ministry efforts in church history have been accomplished by single adults committed to our Savior. Think about what a city like Atlanta (my hometown) would look like if the thousands of singles who gather each week to meet each other were instead equipped and deployed for the work of the Gospel in their city and the world. Many fatherless children could have role models. Widows would be cared for. It would be amazing! Think of the places in the Middle East and East Asia, which are deprived of the Gospel, having a massive new number of committed believers laying down their lives for the sake of kingdom expansion in these areas. It would literally change the world!
- Personal growth and discipleship –When I meet single people committed to first looking to Christ and the world’s needs, I am blown away by their character and Godliness. When we look first to God’s calling over and above our personal desire to find mates, I believe we will experience personal growth and fulfillment in ways about which we can only dream.
- Meet like-minded SINGLES with REAL potential –This is what baffles me most when it comes to the common American Christian perspective on singleness. How can you better judge someone’s fitness and desirability as a mate: “chatting” over the Internet, or serving alongside other singles to meet the needs of the impoverished in your own cities? Consistently, I have seen the best marriages start by people meeting while jointly serving in missions overseas or in ministries within their own cities. If we look first to Biblical callings in the world and not to our own pursuit of a mate, then we are actually more likely to find someone who is ideally suited for us!
When I look to who I am in the eyes of God, I don’t see Him differentiating between singles and marrieds. Yes, there are teachings specific to marrieds, but nowhere will you find the Bible elevating marriage over singleness.
Rather, what I do find are callings for ALL of us to be about the work of redemption through the Gospel!
We are ALL called to the work of kingdom expansion, whether in our neighborhoods or around the world. We are ALL called to take care of the widows and orphans around us.
We are ALL called to care about the Gospel message being proclaimed among unreached peoples around the globe.
I am, first and foremost, a child of the living God; a servant of my Savior, Christ Jesus. My desire is to live my life through this grid in all things.
~by John Gunter
Well said, John. These thoughts and “dreams of what could be” echo mine for our newly-formed singles group. I pray that we will be such world-changers for Jesus Christ that when people see us, they’ll ask “what in the WORLD?”. Then we can tell them all about the One who not only holds the world, but also holds our hearts, our souls and our very lives in His strong and mighty hands.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him”. (I Corinthians 2:9)