SCSFR (Single Christian Seeking Family Relationships)

“Family Ministry” is a hard concept to swallow for those who are single, and by single I refer to varieties of singleness. True, some are single and praying for a spouse. Others are single because of divorce. Some are widows or widowers and finding themselves single again. Many find themselves “functionally single” due to the incarceration of a spouse. Still others feel that they have been called to a life of singleness. In any case, using the term “family” can conjure thoughts of hope or despair, comedy or tragedy. That is, unless “family” is something more than a husband, wife, and 2.2 children.

As the nation of Israel experienced great victories in battle under the reign of King David, we can see and feel the joy of the nation as they establish an earthly kingdom for their families. In Psalm 68, David proclaims, “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.” Go, God, go! David encourages the people to “sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds.” Yet, what of those families of Israel who found themselves fatherless? In the running of the enemy, what of those foreign families who also found themselves without their primary leaders who died in battle? In the establishment of the kingdom, does God care for singles? David  explains part of God’s greatness and worthiness of praise is how He cares for the lonely.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,

is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,

he leads forth the prisoners with singing;

but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

Psalm 68:5-6

God is the “father” of the fatherless. In repenting of our rebellion, we “received the Spirit of sonship,” and “by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom. 8:15). He is also the “defender of widows” who moved James to write “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). God “leads forth the prisoners with singing” by redeeming those enslaved in sin through Jesus Christ that “we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal. 4:5). Even on the cross, Jesus cared for His single mother by saying of John, “’Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’” (John 19:26-27). John and Mary may not have been thinking that way, but Jesus wanted them to see a greater connection within the faith community in that we care for one another.

God still does this today. He does not leave us or abandon us; rather, He places us in a community of faith within which we should care for one another as family. John further elaborates on this when he writes, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!” (1 John 3:1). “We” in reference to His Church – not the building; but the people. God adopted us into His family, and we should no longer walk a lonely road. If we are, then something is not functioning properly in the family of faith.

Perhaps the reason “family ministry” is so hard for singles to swallow is because the Church is far from behaving as a family. Would a parent allow their child to live and function in isolation from the rest of the family? If the answer is “yes,” we’ve got work to do at home. If the answer is “no,” we’ve got work to do in the local church because we have disconnected singles among us, and this does not reflect the heart and greatness of our God who “sets the lonely in families.” As sons and daughters, we ought to echo the heart of our father. We need to care for singles. We need to set “the lonely in families.” In other words, “family ministry” is not only about the nuclear families in the home, but about bridging relationships within the greater family of God.

In determining a first step, why not make the most of the coming holiday? If you’re single, please know that God’s heart is for you to be in community. Those in the family of faith should be those you can go to as a brother or sister in Christ. Begin praying about someone with whom you might begin to share your heart and life. Couples, I know singles who, quite frankly, hate Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday permeated by a spirit of “family” and “thanks.” Without a “family,” they find little for which to be thankful. Don’t allow a single to be alone for Thanksgiving. Invite them to be part of your celebration. Consider ways throughout the year to care for orphans and widows. Spend time with singles who are seeking a spouse and model for them a healthy marriage and family life. In a local church devoted to “family ministry,” having singles into your home should be completely natural because, after all, we’re family.

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