The following article is from a recent issue of Every Thought Captive magazine. Subscribe Today!
I am single, I attend worship regularly and want to be involved in my church, but I don’t fit in. Ministries are focused on parents, children, husbands and wives. It is difficult to connect with other church members. What should I do?
You Are Not Alone
Be assured that you are not the only one who feels out of place in church. When your life has taken a different turn than many of your peers, it is easy to get discouraged. You want to be vital to the life of the body, like the lungs. Without the lungs the body dies. Then there are the tonsils, no one wants to be like the tonsils, a dangly bit which has little discernible function and may be lopped off at the first sign of infection.
Finding points of connection with people who may not understand your specific set of difficulties can be a struggle. Whether you are single, divorced, parenting a rebellious teenager, or in a transient college phase, there are things you can do that will make you more vital and less dangly.
Asking the Right Questions
Considering your motive for asking the question is a good place to start. If the question you are really asking is, why doesn’t the church cater more to my needs? You are asking the wrong question. The church doesn’t exist to cater to any of us, but to bring glory to God and do His work. Our needs are met in many ways by participating in the life of the church, and we receive many blessings from biblical teaching and the fellowship of believers, but the end goal is not personal satisfaction.
When trying to find our place in the church we should remember the words of Christ, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We must let our thinking be transformed, subdue our selfishness, and place the needs of others above our own. The blessing is in the giving more than the receiving. “Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” That was Jesus too and He should know, He was the ultimate Giver. He had a habit of saying things that turn our common sense upside down.
Your Role in the Church
Romans 12 shows us what this upside down life looks like. Returning to these pages often will do us much good as we read, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (12:1). If you see your role in your church as one of humble service toward God and the needs of others, it changes everything for you and for them. You don’t have to be a poster child for the perfect American family to practice Romans 12 style love for others. As we read we get the distinct idea that Christian living is about contributing rather than consuming: Give preference to one another (12:10), serve the Lord (12:11), persevere in tribulation (12:12), be devoted to prayer (12:12), contribute to the needs of the saints (12:13), practice hospitality (12:13), rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (12:15), do not repay evil for evil (12:17).
Life in the body of Christ is marked by energetic giving without concern for what is received in return. God’s people give of their time and their talents, their homes and their hearts, placing the needs of others above their own. There are no caveats in this list. It doesn’t say weep with those whose problems you’ve experienced. It says weep with those who weep. You can share a sister’s sorrow without knowing the precise dimensions of her grief. It doesn’t say practice hospitality by throwing elaborate parties. It says practice hospitality. You can do that even if you don’t love to cook or have a lot of space.
Sharing life in these ways diminishes our differences. When you enter into the joy or grief of another, the dividing wall starts to crumble. When you devote yourself to prayer it gives strength to the body and helps others to persevere through trials. When you learn to view church life in this way, it becomes natural to notice the many ways you can enter into the life of another with help, encouragement, empathy, or admonishment. You may also find that you can trust these same people to bear your burdens, share in your specific sorrows, and delight in your personal joys.
The diversity of the body of Christ is a strength for us, not a weakness. When the hands and the feet, the tonsils and the lungs, labor together they strengthen each part. Giving yourself to others in a million little ways may show you that the part you play is smaller and much much bigger than you think.
Do you have ideas of how you can practice this type of love in your church? Share them with us in the comments below!