What in the WORLD?

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!

Biblical Singleness

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)


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Smiles, Howls, and a Boy named Nehemiah

1FullSizeRWhen I was a Kindergarten Teacher Assistant, I had a student named Nehemiah.  I remember walking down the long hallway of Oakdale Elementary to Room C-1 every morning.  When I finally reached my classroom where my students were sitting lined up against the wall waiting for the bell to ring, they would wave wildly and whisper-shout: “Hey Miss Hope!” like they hadn’t seen me for a month.  And every morning, Nehemiah would jump up and wrap his little arms tightly around my waist, then lean back and give me the biggest smile, white teeth shining bright against chocolate skin.  I would hug him back and whisper for him to go sit back down until the bell rang.  Sometimes he would.  Other times he would howl like a hound dog: “Noooo, Ms. Hooope!”, and I would have to gently guide him back to his spot on the floor while trying hard not to laugh.

I thought about Nehemiah not too long ago when my pastor began his series on the book of Nehemiah.  One particular Sunday, Pastor Jeff said something that really resonated with me.  After describing how the Israelites began rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he challenged the congregation with this question:  “What about you?  Where do you see a place on the wall that needs to be filled, and what is God asking you to do about it?”

For a while I had thought off and on about getting a single adult ministry started at my church.  I knew there had been a ministry at one time, but as life and seasons go it had disbanded.  When Pastor Jeff asked us to think about filling a place on the wall, the singles at church immediately came to mind.  I will confess that my first thought, like my student Nehemiah, was to howl “noooo!”.   I wanted someone else to step up and I would happily assist, just not lead.

Time went on, but the idea of a singles ministry stayed with me.  I decided I’d better start praying about “what God put on my heart to do” (Nehemiah 2:12).  And wouldn’t you know, He started swinging doors wide open.  He brought just the right people at just the right time, and a singles ministry began to form.

I recently looked up the meaning of Nehemiah and read:  “comforted by Yahweh [I AM]” or “comforted by the Lord who always has been and always will be with you”.  I love that.   God comforted me that summer Sunday with the words of Nehemiah, reminding me once again what a personal God He is and that He continues to work and move in our lives.  My prayer is that the singles ministry will be a comfort and encouragement to other singles in the body of Christ and to know that as long as we have breath, our God is for us and has good plans for us.

And I think that’s something to howl about.

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