Often times, when we talk about church growth or planting a common marker of health is when families, especially young families start to attend and make the church their own. This is a good thing and pastoring a small church with some amazing families, I get the inclination. But what of those single, both by choice or by circumstance? If the church is meant to be their family as well, how are we endeavoring to give them space for flourishing?
Part of the problem is expectation. In the church, there is an assumption that human completion is in pairing off. While this is a wonderful and biblical thing, it is not the only thing. So as a church maybe we stop assuming a single person needs to be married. Instead, we should be taking steps to integrate everyone into the life of the church regardless of relational status.
Next, do single people have a voice in the decisions of the church, in the progress of the life of the church? Give them a place and hear them. Let single people communicate what support they need and how you can best encourage them in the faith.
Then in our preaching, and discipleship, the ideal presented is following after Jesus, surrender all of our lives, married, single, whatever, to our Savior for his glory and our good. Are we up for this?
I know that at Reservoir we have a way to go before we are seen as a church for the flourishing of single people. But let’s lean into it and see what the Lord will do.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB)
This week I had a change in schedule that took the biggest item of work off the task list. The thing that each week looms as the necessity to be accomplished and product to produce. It is my routine deadline and as the week progresses, if the task is not done I increasingly wrestle with anxiety and stress toward the goal of accomplishing it.
This week, however, someone else has taken on the weight of what usually drives my schedule and because of it I can’t help but think of rest.
I have had more freedom, without the deadline and the pressure, to look into other things and catch up on items that usually don’t get much attention. And if nothing was accomplished there was no burden, no weight to lift because the major task had been taken care of.
This has been for me a small glimpse into the rest we have in Christ. Here we have his key invitation, and it still stands for everyone everywhere. Weary and burdened, in need of rest, come. The work has been done, sin has been atoned for and there are no more spiritual or cosmic deadlines to pressure you. Relief. Security. Salvation.
Oh what joy we are given, what a gift it is to rest in Jesus. To know that his way is easy. Because of his humility we can find rest for our souls. More of this, please!
What are the things that are your glimpses of rest? The embrace of a comfortable bed? The licks of a pup? The refreshing cold water when you are parched? Laughter with friends around a fire? Enjoy it. And let it remind you of the rest you have in Christ. Let it give you a taste for what is still to come in him. Rest.
This call from Thomas Watson is so rich, we are invited into repentance and what joy it is.
“Have you repented? God looks upon you as if you had not offended. He becomes a friend, a father. He will now bring forth the best robe and put it on you. God is pacified towards you and will, with the father of the prodigal, fall upon your neck and kiss you… Have you been penitentially humbled? The Lord will never scold you with your former sins. After Peter wept, we never read that Christ scolded him with his denial of him. God has cast your sins into the depth of the sea. How? Not as a cork, but as lead… The repenting sinner can go to God with boldness in prayer and look upon him not as a judge but as a Father. He is born of God and is heir to a kingdom. He is encircled with promises. He no sooner shakes the tree of the promise but some fruit falls.”
How powerful is the gospel that you cling to? Because the gospel I see in Scripture, the gospel that awakened my dead and hateful soul, is the power of God for salvation. The power of God to transform the lost cause. The power of God to lead the murderer to repentance. The power of God to restore relationships… to heal the scars of abuse… to bring the abuser to repentance… to bring peace to the battlefield…. To reconcile racial disparity… to free the oppressed, to make demons flee, to strengthen a believer that has lost his family because he believes in Jesus… to make ordinary people so bold that they would rather die than stop preaching Jesus to a world in need.