Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm Single, out of college, now what?

Being Single at church is awkward. In the traditional evangelical church, you graduate college, get married then have kids. It is not that hard to understand. That is what you do. Any deviation from this might as well be sin.

Church Growth models show that if you target the young family demographic you can successfully grow your church. So, churches, that want to grow, naturally focus on young families. However, the marrying age grows older every year, creating a growing demographic of 20 somethings and 30 somethings that the church can't ignore forever.

As a single person you often wonder if church really plays a role in your life at all. Most single ministries are full of people you would rarely hang out with let alone date. Most church activities, functions, classes and resources are for families. You are simply, left out. You really can't be put in any position of leadership because of you have no way to relate to people who do have families. Not only do you feel out of place, people at church feel out of place for you. So they try and "help" you the best way they know how; they help by setting you up with someone. Out of respect and appreciation, sometimes you are duped into a blind date. These scenarios are rarely successful.

What is funny to me is that the most influential Christian in the New Testament was most influential during the time he was single. I Cor 7. Paul is all over the world planting churches and ministering because of his singlehood. Paul actually has to argue for the legitimacy of marriage (I Cor 7) because everyone wanted to be single like him. Paul states that if you’re single, don't worry about marriage, serve God. If you’re married, your first responsibility is to your family. This young single demographic is best equipped to "kick butt for Jesus." This is also the very demographic the church has no idea on how to handle. Being a 20 to 30 something puts you in contact with very passionate, very driven and very influential people. They are also the most progressive, creative, zealous and moldable. However, the church is really has few to no resources designed to teach you how to handle the parties, the clubs, bars, and essentially the 'single scene' in any effective way. These places are written off as 'places of sin,' and the church will go as far as guilt tripping you for engaging people's lives in these venues. Rather than realizing that on any given Friday or Saturday night this young person will be in contact with boat loads of hurting people, we see them as the enemy ready to consume and devourer.

The Bible says, "Be in the World, not of the world." So in an effort not to be 'of' the world, we take people completely out of being ‘in’ the world. Some of the best life education takes place in the world. Some of the best opportunities to share the gospel, to minister to someone, to represent Christ where darkness abounds takes place in the world. The problem, I think, is that the Church has a tendency to be too domesticated. We are sort of like Hobbits, we create cozy little communities where we are safe and we can grow bored and complacent as a result. We do need to be more balanced.

I believe the church should embrace this demographic of young people, equip our young adults to engage the world around them. Provide the support they need. They are on the front lines. In this generation Satan targeted the family. He redefined the role of a parent, the meaning of marriage and love. This generation is rejecting marriage, has a flawed idea of God, a flawed idea of love, and is desperate for something authentic. Satan left them with nothing. Why turn your back to them? You have what they cry for.

Don't keep it from them.

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