THE SINGLE ADULT AND THE LOCAL CHURCH
The local church is a God initiated entity with specific functions that are vital for healthy spiritual growth and development. The word for church is ekklesia, an ancient Greek term meaning the people of a kingdom who are called to take their role as responsible citizens. Ninety-two times in the New Testament the word refers to a local congregation. The other references are to the whole church, or to all believers. The early church in the book of Acts met in the temple and synagogues, as well as private homes of believers. (Acts 5:42) Sunday became the principal time for assembled worship to recognize the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week. (1 Corinthians 16:2). Through worship and fellowship gatherings, believers were taught successful Christian living in the church.
Single adults who live the most fulfilled lives are known for two things. They have cultivated intimacy with the Lord and they are intimately involved in their local church. Today, as in the book of Acts the local church is the place where single adults are nurtured and discipled so that they grow and develop spiritually. Effective spiritual development impacts every aspect of a person's life - physical, mental, emotional, financial and social.
A good local church offers the single adult an environment to participate in a family structure. Although a single adult may live alone, away from family and close friends or a single parent may have an absent parent to help in child-rearing, if they are apart of a local church that is operating according to God's will for the local church - the single adult should be able to find a family structure that enhances their life. For the last twelve years I have lived alone without any close family members nearby. The members of my local church have been my family. My Pastor, Carlton Arthurs of Wheaton Christian Center has been a father to me, giving me wisdom, guidance and insight as well as prayer support. Most of all however it is the example of a Godly man that he has consistently lived out before me that has been the most beneficial to me. I have benefited from his wisdom and the quality of life I currently experience is in many ways directly tied to how he has fathered me. The impact he has had on my life is even more significant than my own biological father. He has taught and exemplified for me the characteristics of a Godly man. Before his example I had no idea what made a Godly man and therefore I could not execute wise judgment when it came to relationship building with men.
I also have seasoned women of God who have lives marked by prayer, tame tongues, and Word of God influenced judgment that offer me Godly advice. I refer to them as my spiritual mothers. These women are very important to me because my own mother has gone to be with the Lord. I have peers - other men and women of God with whom I fellowship and grow. They are my sisters and brothers. Involvement in my local church has also afforded me the opportunity to help others grow and develop. These are my spiritual children.
Other benefits I have received as a result of intimate involvement in my local church as a single adult include:
· Discovery of Purpose, Call and Gifts It is while I was making myself available to meet the needs of my local church that God revealed to me my gifts and callings which He had ordained for me to function in-within the kingdom of God. Had my local church not created opportunities such as teaching Sunday School, visiting the nursing home, watching over other church members, directing the building fund and leading intercessory prayer I would not have discovered my kingdom purpose.
· Development of A Foundation for Financial Success My local church taught me principles of kingdom financial management including tithing and sowing seeds. These principles enable me to live debt free and be a significant giver into the Work of the Lord.
· Character Development While interacting with the various members of my local church I was able to cultivate Christ-like character. I learned meekness (strength under control). I learned to love ( not paying attention to a suffered wrong). I learned faithfulness (showing up every Sunday even when I didn't feel like it) to teach Sunday School. I learned self-control (not purchasing all my desires) so I would be able to bring my tithes and offering every Sunday. I learned joy - praising God even when the guy I wanted to marry brought another girl to church and married her.
· Identification of Key Relationships Involvement in your local church can be the place where God chooses you to discover your mate, your business partner, your next employer, your best friend. One of my closet friends I met in my local church. There are people that hold key positions in the ministry of Singles Pleasing The Lord that are currently filled by members of my local church.
Now that I have shared some of the benefits of involvement in the local church I would like to provide you with a way to assess whether a local church is a good local church and how you can tell if the local church you attend is the place God wants you to be.
Good local churches are marked by:
· Love and unity- members who avoid gossip, strife, murmuring and complaining and talking against leadership.
· Biblically based teaching that is taught in the pulpit, lived out in the pew especially by those in leadership positions.
· Regular prayer meetings marked by unity, purity and power.
· Teaching about successful financial living - tithing, giving offerings, increasing your net worth.
· A ministry of helps program that affords you an opportunity to discover your gift and calling.
· A singles or small group ministry that enhances your single life and creates a forum for you to fellowship and cultivate relationships.
These characteristics are not meant to imply that there are perfect churches because that simply is not the case, but there are good churches that God will lead you to that enhance your single life.
Lastly, membership in a local church should be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You should be able to sense God's accurate and intimate involvement in your selection of a local church. If you ask Him and obey Him, God will lead you to the church that will fulfill and enhance your life as a single adult.