Sunday, February 1st, 2015
Part 4 - Flying Solo: Singleness and the Church
This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Kick off the Conversation:
- Reflect & share whether singleness was part of the dialogue in your experience as you grew up. If it was…why was it? If it wasn’t, why not?
- Reflect on your ethnic background. Are there any cultural expectations around marriage or singleness?
- How have these things shaped your understanding today?
Before we start to talk about singleness and marriage, it is helpful to frame HOW we are going to talk about it. We need to create the space to be free of judgement of ourselves or each other or any bitterness from our experience as we talk about this. We all have assumptions that we operate from but we often don’t realize that we have them. It is my hope that this discussion will bring awareness to those assumptions, and change them where we feel convicted. So as we talk about this PRAY TOGETHER that you have the posture to listen to each other and understand one another’s experience.
There are many mixed messages in the church today around singleness. A few are mentioned below:
1. They want to be married and so they are discontent with being single.
2. They want to be married so they must idolize marriage.
3. They aren't married because they are too picky.
4. They aren't married because they have things they need to work on.
5. They aren't married because they are called to be single.
Are there any other assumptions that either you have made or you have experienced? Share these with the group.
Look at some examples of men and women who were single for different reasons and different seasons. We mentioned Adam. We have Joseph, who though pursued by the wife of Potiphar…fled temptation and ended up wrongfully in prison. And we have Moses, who the Lord drew to Himself in the years of tending sheep and eventually in the meeting at the Burning Bush. We also have two widows, Ruth & Naomi. Then we have John the Baptist – whose life and call was to prepare the way for the Lord! Then we have the prophetess Anna, who was married for seven years, and then spent the rest of her days waiting in the temple. Jesus, and of course, Paul. Are there individuals in this list that teach you something specific about what it means to be single well? Share this with your group.
Turn to Genesis 2:15-19 – read together.
Did you catch that? God states that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone – but he gives him the task of naming the animals while he was alone! In other words: there is a task that Adam has to do alone. A task that the Lord has specifically given him – a lofty task to name the animals. One other note: do you think that as those animals came to him, they weren’t male & female? Adam, engaging in the task that the Lord has for him as a single man, actually exposes his need for a companion! Isn’t that fascinating! There the Lord left Adam to “fly solo”, as it were, in the task that He had for him. There was a specific job, pursuit, or hobby that needed to be done as a single person.
Read Psalm 119: 9–16.
We are all called to pursue the LORD as first in our heart. We are not called to marriage, to marriage or singleness, we are called to Christ.
- What would a single-hearted pursuit of the LORD mean for your life today? Would something have to change? Be practical and real here.
- If you are married, share how this can be difficult when you have the “anxieties” that Paul talks about.
Read 1 Corinthians 7.
Look at verse 6 of chapter 7: “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” There is no other way to interpret this: each state is a gift. Marriage is a gift and singleness is a gift. But I realize that a large portion of us who are single don’t feel that it is a gift…and there are those who are married who also don’t feel like it is a gift. But do not buy into this cultural assumption that our feelings establish our truth. No: the Bible is where we find our truth. And the truth is stated here: each state (marriage or singleness) is a gift... whether we feel it is or not.
- How would seeing your current state (married or single) as a gift change how you experience it?
We also need to guard and care for the gift God has given us. A large part of this involves purity.
- How does purity fit into your present state? Physical purity is a more obvious one. What about emotional or spiritual purity? How can we encourage each other and guard each other’s hearts in the area of purity?
- Honest reflection: who are the singles (“never-been-marrieds”, divorced or widows) in your life? Picture the faces of those you know. Now…how integrated is your life when it comes to your community? Your campus groups? Your small group? Your work colleagues? Is there a mix of married and single people as part of those who you do life with?
- What are some practical, small ways that you could reach out to these individuals? An idea would be to send an encouraging card. Or invite them over for a meal. Brainstorm other ideas together. Commit to doing something DIFFERENT this week and follow up with your group next week.
- ASK!!!! We have learned that assumptions can really be hurtful. Ask those in your life how they can be supported and helped.
Amanda Van Halteren
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org