Why It’s Important to Welcome Singles In Your Church

If you’re familiar with my work, you know the importance I place on reaching young people in the church. And when you think about the unmarried believers in your church, I bet you’re likely to think of them as the younger Christians in your midst. But that’s no longer necessarily the case. Did you know that there are now more single adults than married adults in the United States? If your congregation is like many in the country, you may have missed this reality, because the evangelical church often continues to focus primarily on serving couples and families. That’s why I’m so grateful that Gina Dalfonzo, editor of BreakPoint.org and blogger at Dickensblog, has written One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. Gina has taken the time to explore common misconceptions and stereotypes about singles, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways they are often devalued. This is an incredibly important topic, so I asked Gina to allow me to interview her about her new book:

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A New Word for an Old Idea

Words change.

They become archaic. They change meaning. They lose the power to describe what they originally were used for.

Words evolve.

At one time the highest form of love was called “charity” (Check out a 1611 version of 1 Corinthians 13)

In genuine acts, people showing this kind of love, often gave money, time and energy to those who could not pay them back. So much so that eventually the meaning of charity morphed into a synonym for aid assistance and compassionate giving and not the sweeping all-inclusive God-type love which it was originally used to mean.

Words can be high jacked.

Saying a person is “young and gay” does not carry the same meaning it did a hundred years ago. Nobody I know of uses that word to describe being carefree or joyous. The word is dead to its original use.

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She's Got A Way About Her

Today I’ve been married to my girlfriend for 21 years. Sometime around 1 p.m., we’ll starting working on our 22nd year together. Last year, I made a Sergeant Pepper’s reference. But that was last year. So in the interest of something different, I’ve opted to list 21 ways she’s still “got a way about her” (that’s a Billy Joel reference, for those of you keeping score).

She’s Got A Way About Her

1.       Melissa loves the Lord.

2.       She makes me smile.

3.       She’s surprising.

4.       She loves gardens and the outdoors…and has spent 21 years trying to get me to do the same. I love that she hasn’t stopped.

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Whatever Happened to Marriage

What ever happened to marriage?

I’ve been thinking a little lately about marriage. Maybe its because my son is engaged to a wonderful young woman. Maybe its because I work with a bunch of smart twenty-somethings. But lately, I’ve noticed a trend.

I’m the black sheep. Or worse: a dying breed.

Most of the people I know are divorced. Most of the singles I know have a view of marriage that is one part fear and one part abhorrence that they might have to give up anything – last names, finances, property, nights out, whatever. Marriage is that thing someone does when they want to be miserable. Love is that thing that you hope happens but you’re really suspicious of. Commitment is that thing that if you formalize becomes the beginning of the end.

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Hope Springs film review

“Hope Springs” is the real life sequel to every romantic film ever.  That’s because romantic films focus on the meeting of the couple, a conflict that threatens to separate them, followed by a rapturous reunion filled with sweeping music and the end credits.  But what happens to the couple 32 years later?  “Hope Springs” is a movie that everyone who is seriously considering marriage, or is currently married, should see.  It’s great for many reasons, but above all, it’s simply a great movie.

“Hope Springs” is about Kay (Meryl Streep) a woman who is fed up with her lifeless marriage of 32 years with her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).  She is confronted with a dilemma – Keep a passionless, yet barely functional marriage, or see if it can change.  That change comes in the form of an intensive couple’s therapy with Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in Maine that lasts a week and costs $4000.00.  For Kay, the huge cost of therapy is worth every penny if it means it could breathe life into something that once was great.  Naturally, Arnold is none enthused with the idea and protests all the way.  Yet, it’s Kay’s curiosity and hope of change that drives her to see if maybe it is possible to have a great marriage again.  One gets the sense that she may be happy with just a good marriage.  Enter Dr. Feld and his matter of fact questions about the lack of intimacy their marriage has grown lazily accustomed to.  The question the film leaves us with is simple: Can marriages change?

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It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Seargent Pepper Told the Band to Play

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary.

I married at a beautiful 21 year old girl when I was just 19 and we are still married today. In Hollywood years, we're the equivalent of Methuselah. I've spent more than half my life hitched.

As I look back and reflect, I realize how incredibly blessed I am. I dated a lot of girls and had a completely different version of the "girl I'm going to marry" in my imagination at that time. I think I was aiming for combination of Julie Andrews and the girl from that "Cherry Pie" video...but in a Christian version.

What I wound up with was surprising and beyond my wildest imagination.

I married a girl who twenty years later still surprises and interests me. I married someone with whom we don't need kids or context to talk.  (We know everything there is to know about the other person, and still enjoy each other's company). I married a beautiful girl who loves me. She's gives me unparalleled support, encouragement, and patience.

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The time of my life

Time is something we all have in common. We spend it constantly - more than money, emotions, or fuel.  Some use it more wisely, while others throw caution to the wind, throwing it around like it is an inexhaustible resource.

My new year's resolution for 2011 was to let time be time -- to not arrive at the beginning of every month with a worried greeting of, "How in the heck did you get here?" The visitor of next month is one whose impending arrival I always anticipate, but it seems to become a more anxiety-filled journey as the year wanes on.  It feels like sand just slipping through my tightened grip.

This resolution has probably been the only one I have every kept.  As I was slightly caught off guard each month when March 28, July 30 or today rolled around, a gentle nudge caused me to pause and think, "Well, what did you expect? This is time; it's the same time amount you have been given every year and here we are on the precipice of November 2011.  It's happened before; it will happen again."  Okay. And I'm okay, I remind myself as I move through the hours before me.

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Can God Use an Internet Dating Website to Find You a Spouse?

Dumb question.

If the God of creation--the great Hebrew Yahweh who transcends time and eternity--can redeem my immortal soul from sin, I’m sure he can arrange for you to find a mate from the privacy of your own bedroom while you’re dressed in your 1996 sweat pants. 

Surely he can. 

But does He? 

In order to find out, I might need to examine the issue a bit more. If I were to follow the injudicious punctuation of actual Christian dating sites (It’s fast, fun, and FREE! . . . God’s will is waiting!!! . . . At Christian Date we believe in love before money!), I would surely discover that the ratio of members to actual hook-ups corresponds to the number of exclamation marks in their marketing campaigns. But I don’t think God cares much about punctuation.

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Golden Anniversaries, Tarnished Divorces, and the Stuff In Between: Is God in All of It?

Some families function like a slick ad campaign for successful Christian marriages: their histories boast the blessings of longevity and faithfulness. Other families are so speckled with dirt and dysfunction that God is nowhere to be found. But if you’re like me, you might find yourself surrounded by both.

I wish my family could have stuck with one story; it would make my theology so much simpler. If my Christian ancestors were twenty couples deep in 50+ years of happiness, then I could claim God’s promises to be true: that godly people are always blessed with strong, impenetrable marriages. Likewise, if my family boasted nothing but broken, banged-up fairytales, then I could claim without much opposition that the Bible’s mandates were nothing but an idealistic dream. 

But here I am this summer with multiple narratives in my head, none of them showing the kind of cause-and-effect I had expected as a child. 

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I've Got Mono: The Challenges and Beauty of Monogamy

The New Times published an article recently positing that infidelity was, for some marriages, just the right ingredient needed to keep a marriage strong.  The advocate for this lifestyle is none other than Seattle's own Dan Savage, of "Savage Love",  Stranger fame.  At first blush (pun intended), the article appears not to be worth the time to read.  Who cares about some guy's theory that married couples would be happier in some cases if infidelity was an accepted part of the marriage package?  But a real reading revealed both the thoughtfulness behind his argument, and the subtleties of deception that run terribly deep in waters of our culture.

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