As a single female Christian, I don’t often hear how I can contribute to my church. There’s a lot my former denomination did not allow me to do – teach about Church History, teach about Church Fathers or the Reformers, or write up study booklets with said information. So imagine my surprise when Complementarians begin talking about singles in the church as if they could do something at church that didn’t have anything to do with having them marry right away. Statistically, there are slightly more single individuals in church than married couples. So it’s about time some teaching was made for them other than: “Today, we’re preaching about marriage. You single people should pay attention, it’ll be useful when you’re married in the very near future.”
Essentially the lesson is on Paul and his contributions, but focuses on his mentor-ship of his disciples, Titus and Timothy, calling them his ‘true sons’ in the faith. Yep, single people get to be spiritual parents of spiritual children. I suppose the tendency to put everything in the framework of parents and children relationships goes back to the persons of the Trinity being Father and Son as the most easily understood and Holy Ghost/Spirit the most difficult to grasp.
Of course, it’s one thing to teach something as if it were so, it’s much another to put in place the necessary people to make it a reality. I seem to recall at my former church a discipleship program that was started called ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’ (Proverbs 27:17) It ended in short order due to lack of volunteers. My former denomination had an unspoken rule – to qualify as a leader for any given ministry, one must be married. Exceptions were on occasion given out to men of good standing – an old friend of the pastor who happened to be divorced, for example.
Almost no training, encouragement, or support is given to single individuals in anything, so even if there is Biblical precedent to be spiritual mentors it doesn’t matter because of the lack of preparation for their service generally dooms any attempt at ministry on their own to fail. Ministry is defined as “an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith.” I sincerely doubt that Jesus wanted his followers to set up a system where only qualified believers can have approved ministries with the full support of the Church thereby dooming to failure all unapproved ministries and unqualified believers for lack of support. Sadly, that’s how ministry has been operating for far too long.
Some ministries are age specific: children, teenagers, young adult, adult, and elderly adults.
Some ministries are life-stage specific: college, career, single, couples, and married people.
Some ministries are interest specific: music, arts, sports, and choir.
Some ministries are community oriented: food banks, clothing banks, educational assistance
And too many ministries are non-existent.
Which is why it bothers me that so little support is given to the one group of people that have the time, energy, interest, and above all, God’s blessing to engage in ministries of all sorts: single people. Paul was one of them. He recognized how much single people could contribute. Why doesn’t the church?