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The Single Life
Scripture: Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Corinthians 12:12-1...
Track 1 of 7 in the Transforming Families series
Running time: 57 minutes

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The family; for some, the traditional family unit is a dying breed. There are those out there who are working with intent to make the traditional family unit something of the past. I think the reason for this is to make the abnormal family unit look normal in society. If there isn't something that is considered basic, then any family model can be introduced and accepted.

Unfortunately, the church family looks a lot like the world. The changes talking place in the world can be seen also in the church. In some ways this should be expected because the problems of the world don't just go away when someone accepts Christ. There was still some baggage we all carried with us when we joined the MPCC family. The problem that arises is when the mature church doesn't model the example set up by God. How does a new Christian learn the correct family values if the church itself isn't modeling the correct example? How will the church be able to give help to the world in family related issues if the church looks and acts like the world?

For the next seven weeks, we will be looking at the issue of Transforming Individual Families, but at the same time we must understand that the church is a family also, it is "one body", and together we are the bride of Christ; and so we will also be looking at Transforming the Church Family.

Someone define for me what your definition is of "family" Is home and family two different things? How are they different?

Home is the place where,
When you have to go there,
They have to take you in. Robert Frost

Everyone Loves a Mystery

Television mysteries: What are some of your favorite oldies, and why did you like them? Examples: The oldies-Columbo(Peter Falk), Matlock(Andy Griffith), or Murder She Wrote(Angela Landsberry). What about today? Examples: CSI Miami, CSI New York, etc. What about Movie mysteries? Any stick out as a favorite in recent years? What made that movie so good?

Paul talks to us about another mystery:

Ephesians 5: 22-32 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

We are going to spend more time with this topic when we get to marriage but what I want to focus on is the mystery Paul stated. The mystery is the relationship between God and the church. The best example can be explained in the husband-wife relationship. The husband-wife relationship is only a shadow of the one we have with Christ. We can use our everyday experiences from marriage to help understand ours with Jesus.

Usually when this passage of scriptures is read, the husbands usually puff their chest out while their wives see only red. But that is our humanness coming out. This passage is not about our relationships with our wives, but with Christ. But it is this first relationship that leads to all the others that make up a family. The same is true with the church family. The church family is made up of all kinds of relationships. Each one is significant and important and all combined make up our church family at MPCC. We will look at all the different ones and how each fit in and contribute to the family.

"Singleness": Defined and Described

It is important to understand what is meant when talking about being single. I love it when a church talks about starting a singles ministry. Who are you talking about when singles are mentioned?There are three basic groups: A) Never been married, B) Divorced and C) Widowed

Thinking about single adults and treating single adults the same in ministry doesn't work. Each group has it own issues and needs. Did you know that 6 out of 10 singles have never been married and men slightly outnumber the women? It can be very dangerous to "generalize when talking about singles.

Who are these people? A study was done by a Christian researcher, George Barna to help describe who singles are today. This study was done on all singles, both inside and outside the body of Christ. Now before I show this data, this does not necessarily describe the singles at MPCC. The purpose of the data was to find the trends and then look to find ways to attract singles to the church understand their situation and look for ways to better serve this group. In no way is the data taken from MPCC's membership. However, this does give us a glimpse in what is going on in general terms with the single community today.

"Fewer singles volunteer at a church, attend a Sunday school class, or participate in a small group during an average week" …of the three subsets of singles, "the never been married individuals ranked lowest" in terms of being active in religious pursuits
What could be the reasons for this?

Never-been-married adults are the least likely to have accepted Christ into their life of the three subsets, and single adults in general are less likely to be "born again" than married adults

Any thoughts on why this might be? What in their lives might cause this? How do we as a church reach out to this group to attract them to Christ?

Never-been-marrieds are the youngest, most active, and most optimistic of the three singles groups"
Does this surprise you? How might this trait affect the first two we just discussed?

Single adults are skeptical of many biblical teachings
Single adults who have never been married are also particularly likely to push moral boundaries, particularly sexually. Nearly half had consumed sexually explicit content in magazines or movies; one-fifth had done so online. And two out of five never-married adults say they had an intimate sexual encounter in the last month. Singles also were among the most likely groups to abuse drugs and alcohol, to use profanity, to take something that doesn't belong to them, to illegally download music, and to get payback on someone.
Considering this information that was just shared, as the church what are some obvious conclusions that we be drawn to from all of this? Where do we start in attracting them to our church? Does our church convey an "openness", and "attractiveness" to this segment of our society? In what ways do we do a good job, and in what ways can we do a better job?

The Single Adult in the Body of Christ

Together, as a collective group, "singles" are often forgotten and neglected when it comes to the church; this can be especially true for the never-been-married group in particular. One from our congregation shared this:

"I have always felt like the square peg, or the piece from some other puzzle that just had to be jammed into the picture somewhere…Young singles always get lumped into a 'catch-all' program like a "college" class or "young adult" class. Twenty-something singles are definitely a minority in the church, completely different form everyone else in our age range, somewhere between the college kids and the young families but not quite a fit in either group."

Why does this happen? True or False…the church is more guilty of being judgmental and discriminatory towards singles than with any other subpopulation group in their midst?

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

The Challenges of the Single Life

Today our focus is on the single adult who is either not yet married, or has chosen the single life and is very comfortable with that decision. In Chuck's sermon this morning, Paul was a person who chose to stay single. He decided to do this so he could concentrate his life in the ministry of the church. It was his personal decision to do so.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions, stereotypes, etc., that we have of the never-been-married adult? Immature, restless and unsettled, too judgmental and unaccepting of others (too "picky"), selfish (struggle with personal relationships), etc….and as they get older-could they be gay

Observation from Dr. Evan Horner: "Singles are sometimes seen as having nothing to do since they do not have a family. I have heard singles say that they are often perceived as having more time and that it is thought that they should always available to do a variety of tasks and jobs in the church. They admit that there may be some truth to this perception, but they are not without a life and they often as involved with other activities as much as other people are."

One person from our own congregation had this to say,

"In general, I find non-Christians to be more accepting of my status as a single person than Christians. They don't comment on it nearly as often as Christians do."

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges singles today face from outside the church? From inside the church?

Being single definitely makes it easier to relate to other singles, regardless of their faith, however it's a huge struggle to relate to couples and families, even those younger than I am simply because we are in completely different stages of life with completely different commitments, priorities and responsibilities. Another huge struggle is all the people (Christian and not) who see "singleness" as something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible, both for others and themselves… A HUGE aggravation is the rumors that you must constantly defend yourself from... living 'above reproach' is difficult as a single, especially within the church.

Sexual purity is one such challenge that is clearly identified as a major challenge for the never-been-married; it is no doubt often an issue for those married as well, but singles are even more vulnerable. This was also a problem in the Corinthian church. 1 Corinth 6: 12-20

Concerning these challenges and struggles, how can we better support, encourage, and value the worth of the person who has never been married?

Those who have never been married have a unique and special position inside the body of Christ. It was a position Paul found worked best for him and it served him well considering the ministry he was involved in. The same is true for those in our church who have never been married. They also hold a special and unique position in MPCC. They have several opportunities to serve that are unique to them.

Being single I find that I am far more available to be involved in ministry, given my time and attention aren't occupied by the needs of a family. Being single also allows me more opportunities to meet people that I otherwise would never come in contact with simply because my time isn't spent at home.

I don't know that my singleness makes a difference in how I related to Christians or non-Christians. I try to relate, build relationships and support all people in the same ways. I do not define myself by my singleness and I try not to define others by their marital status - or any other status. We are all just people.