What became apparent through the research and interviews for this book, was that we need to rethink the way we do community. If we want to encourage people that there’s nothing wrong with staying single and it’s an equal state to being married, then we need to put a framework in place whereby someone can be on their own but still have companionship.
Bella said: ‘I think Western culture at large must change so as to be more community-focused and welcoming towards single people of all ages, in both philosophical and practical terms. This could be by comprehending better what we lack emotionally and socially in our lives, assisting unwell singles and making housing more affordable.’
There are ways the Church – as a body of people rather than just an individual – can step in here and make a real difference to people’s lives.
God sets the solitary in families;Psalm 68:6 (ESV)
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
Maybe the ‘solution’ to the issue we have been discussing is not everyone getting married but building a community so that single people are not lonely.
How can we do this? Firstly we need to make space to allow others to come in. As a church can we make space for people who need unconditional family love without actually being part of your family? With this consistency is so important. Just being there for someone for a month or six week will not fill the void of feeling lonely. This is where the Church an be different – we need to stick around even when it’s not convenient or we feel like it.
Secondly, maybe if you are in leadership, could single people be represented from the front, running small groups and prayer meetings etc. Can sermons have anecdotes that might refer to single people as well and your partner and children? Could as a Church we commit to getting our friends together for a social both single and in relationships? Just don’t leave out your single friends!
Finally, everyone should feel part of a family home. being part of the family rather than a guest is like the difference between entertainment and hospitality…..
‘There’s a guy in our church who says we’ve started to confuse entertainment with hospitality. Entertainment is nice: you clean the house, you cook something special, you offer someone a drink when they come in. But hospitality is leaving the door on the latch; having someone come and crash on the sofa or stay for dinner but it’s only a pasta with what’s left in the cupboard. It’s leaving them to put their own dish in the dishwasher. Entertainment is inviting someone in to watch a performance. Hospitality is inviting someone into your family.’
If you’re single
Do you have a ‘family home’ where you can just sink in?
If you’re dating
What can you do to invest in your community in the midst of your new and exciting relationship?
If you’re married
Do you invite others into your family home environment? Is your house a safe space for unexpected visitors?
What sacrifices could we make to our home environment to make it more welcoming to others?