As a fifteen-year old, I remember riding with my dad to the DMV to take my driver’s permit test. After taking the twenty-question exam, I waited anxiously for the instructor to give me a grade. To my excitement, I passed! (By one point, but I passed nonetheless.) I was officially a legal driver in the state of Alabama . . . as long as I was with one of my parents, and it was a weekday, and it was before 7pm. Not exactly the moment of freedom I had dreamed about.
It wasn’t until another year later that I would take my actual driving test and become a real driver with all the benefits and responsibilities that came along with it. As a minister to young single adults, I sometimes hear from single men and women who feel as though they have only received their “permit” when it comes to their role in the church.
Partial Church Members
Many single adults sense an implied attitude in other Christians that being married or having kids demonstrates a higher level of spiritual maturity or qualification for ministry. But this is where singles, and all Christians, need to be reminded that the family of God consists of people who are single and married (with or without children).
Ultimately, all Christians—singles and marrieds—have been saved by God’s grace and for his glory, and we have been commanded to make disciples of all nations. That’s true regardless of marital status, career status, financial status, or any other status. Being single does not delay you from the benefits and responsibilities of your role in the local church. With that in mind, here are four ways single adults can fully enjoy and embrace the benefits and responsibilities of being part of the family of God:
1. Commit to your local church
If you haven’t already joined the church you’re attending, do it. Committing to a church is not only for your benefit but also for the benefit of those who are part of that body of believers. Some of these brothers and sisters in Christ will benefit greatly by your being there and being committed to their spiritual growth. Also, by joining a church you commit to be under the ministry, care, and authority of those God has called to be shepherds of his flock. (Hebrews 13:17)
2. Gather with Your Local Church
One of the things I love the most is gathering with our church every Sunday to sing, pray, study the Bible, take communion, and celebrate baptism together. I admit that it is not always convenient to gather, but it is always worth it. If you are part of a local church, then follow the instruction of Hebrews 10:24 and make gathering with your church a priority in your life. Fight the temptation to make corporate worship a game-time decision every week; prepare in advance, adjust schedules, and do whatever it takes to gather with other believers for worship, celebration, and mutual care.
3. Invest in Community with Your Church
Being a thriving member of the church is not just about attending worship gatherings but also about knowing the people of your church and being known by the people of your church. In Acts 2:42-47 we see that the local church was much more than a one-hour-a- week obligation, but rather it was a joy-filled community of people who worshipped, ate, and worked together. You can well imagine them laughing and playing together as well.
I realize there are obstacles to finding and connecting with Biblical community, but I would encourage you to persevere for your benefit and for the benefit of your church. Often the hardest part is taking the first step. To that end, consider the following suggestions:
- Find a small group (or your church’s version of a small group of believers who gather regularly)
- Find an area of need in your church and serve there
- Find an older member of your church and ask them talk over coffee
- Find a family in your church and ask them if there are some specific ways you can serve them
4. Live on Mission with Your Church
Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28:18–20 is given to every believer, including single adults. That means you are to live on mission with your church. God has given each of us unique passions, skill sets, abilities, and even life-stages for his purposes, and you are no different.
There are ways you can advance the gospel that others cannot, just as there are ways that married couples can advance the gospel that you cannot. That’s the beauty of the church as it functions in God’s economy of redemption. Consider a few simple ways to live on mission with your church:
- Be a good neighbor, which means getting to know your neighbors
- Make plans to go on a mission trip with your church in the next year
- Consider what reaching the unreached will look like for you in this life stage
- Steward your resources, time, and energy for the sake of the gospel
The Church is a Gift
The local church is gift from God, and it’s one that our persecuted brothers and sisters don’t always have the joy of experiencing. Single Christian, you are a full-fledged member of the family of God and a recipient of all of the rights and responsibilities that come with it. Embrace this gift! And remember, there will be plenty of days where committing, worshipping, investing, and living in the context of the local church will be inconvenient or difficult. That’s because the family of God is filled with people like you and me, people who are not perfect and who are still becoming more like Christ. So offer the same patience, grace, forgiveness, and encouragement that you hope to receive. In the end, whether single or married, make it your aim to persevere together with your church for the sake of the gospel and for the glory of our God!