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The Key to Companionship for Singles

Most of the advice I’ve received as a single man has been about finding a spouse. Whether it’s exhortations to grow or encouragements to persevere, conversations are anchored to the anticipation of future marriage.

Marriage is a beautiful, God-glorifying gift that should be encouraged and pursued by anyone who desires it. But future hopes of marriage don’t encapsulate the Christian single life.

For one, marriage isn’t promised to everyone, and more than half of those who marry will be single again. But more importantly, marriage-centered singleness focuses on the single as an individual. When we concentrate on the spouse a single Christian lacks, loneliness is inevitable. Hyperfixating on marriage may distract us from the real key to Christian companionship.

A single Christian life doesn’t have to be a lonely life. Jesus promises in Mark 10:29–31,

There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Jesus doesn’t view singles in reference to what we lack in marriage but what we have in Christ. And this isn’t a future hope; this gift of a hundredfold family is given in this life.

A Family, Not a Mere Hobby

Where can this family be found? In the local church. Joining a church is more than signing up for a hobby; it’s being adopted into a spiritual family. Church membership is a clear commitment of mutual responsibility that provides real spiritual connections to God’s family.

Jesus doesn’t view singles in reference to what we lack in marriage but what we have in Christ.

While the benefits of church membership exist for every Christian, they can especially apply to Christian singles. Specifically, meaningful membership provides at least three blessings.

1. A Place to Be Seen

A friend once described losing his spouse as feeling invisible. More than losing someone to live with, he lamented the loss of someone who knew him intimately, who recognized his value independent of his usefulness. His wife saw him.

Sometimes we fall short of this standard when talking about singleness. We may overemphasize a single Christian’s usefulness over her value as a fellow member of Christ’s body. The reason why a single should be valued isn’t because of her effectiveness but because of her inherent worth as a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:12–27).

Church membership validates singles for who they are, not just for what they do. Membership sees. Each member is part of the family of God’s family, worthy of love and respect. When we baptize a person into the church, we publicly see and celebrate what the Spirit has done through Christ. When we take the Lord’s Supper together, we recognize the body for whom Christ died (11:27–29). Every time we admit people into membership, we acknowledge their value and equal personhood in Christ’s body.

There should never be an overlooked church member. Membership publicly sees each Christian as one for whom the Lord Jesus died.

2. A Place to Be Loved

I hate being a burden. But recently, I woke up sick and every normal task became more difficult. It’s especially hard when you don’t have people in your household who can care for you. One common fear I’ve heard from older single brothers and sisters is how they’ll continue to do menial tasks as their bodies weaken. Who takes care of the single Christian when she’s in need?

Here’s an excerpt from my church’s covenant: “We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress.” Thankfully, I have church members who don’t just recite these words but also live them. I’ve had enough food brought to last through a zombie apocalypse, and people have checked in on me in ways that didn’t make me feel like a burden.

Being a church member means I don’t need to keep up the charade of having it all together. I can be honest about my deficiencies, my frustrations, and my sins. My church family, in turn, lovingly administers grace and love. They’re a web of divine grace that envelops me when I’m in need.

3. A Place to Love

That love and care works both ways. Church membership doesn’t only provide people who care for me—it provides opportunities for me to care for others.

There’s no such thing as selfish singleness in the mature Christian life. Every Christian is called to sacrifice his or her preferences for the good of others, especially for those within the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). Membership makes clear the commitment I’ve made to my spiritual family.

There’s no such thing as selfish singleness in the mature Christian life.

Singleness provides unique opportunities that married members don’t have. A few months ago, someone in our church was hospitalized due to cancer. She needed someone to stay home with her husband, who had his own health complications. I was able to pack my bags and move in for several weeks. The hospital staff and patients were shocked when they found out the one providing care for her husband back home was her pastor.

Acts of service from single church members are the norm, not the exception. I could tell you example after example of faithful single members who joyfully leverage their freedom, focus, and flexibility to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. Our church would be worse off if it weren’t for their loving care. Church membership provides familial lines where singles can focus their sacrificial love.

Imperfect Place

While Jesus promises a family, in this fallen world our spiritual family is also a sinful one. Just like any other family, the living room can be full of joy—but also difficulty. Tactless comments, sincere but overbearing advice, and awkward glances can make God’s community feel isolating.

But healthy families don’t pull away in the sight of difficulty; they press in. Sometimes that may mean working through conflict and applying Christ’s grace to our sin. Other times it may mean patiently bearing with others’ shortcomings. But our commitment to one another, through both the good and the bad, reflects the tenacious commitment of our Savior.

I’m grateful for the pastors and members who’ve taken the time to consider how to love singles in the church. I’m even more grateful for the single brothers and sisters who’ve pressed into their communities despite the heartache and difficulty. And yet, the real challenges are coupled with real joy. Church membership may not be perfect or easy, but it’s real.

Jesus doesn’t promise an earthly spouse, but he does promise an eternal family. And you don’t need a wedding ring to obtain it. You just need a local church. Joining this family strengthens our bond as we know one another, love one another, and point one another to our loving Savior who will “never leave [us] nor forsake [us]” (Heb. 13:5).

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