Recently, my husband and I had some awesome young women over for dinner. What incredible fun we had! We talked, laughed, and shared our hearts. We explored the challenges of being “single” and being the “new girl.”
Stepping Into a New Situation
How does it feel taking your first steps into a new church alone? How hard is it to faithfully sustain the personal faith walk if you don’t have anyone to share, encourage, and uplift you? How do you meet people? How do you explore the highlights of the area in which you live—and do that by yourself? Are you valued as a single person without a family? Who can be your advocate when you are new, single, and are not steeped in the “system”? What if you are a single parent with children? Who wants to invite you and your children for dinner?
Greeting the Folks in the Pew
I once worked with a man who had six children, two with autism. He mentioned,“People don’t invite our family over for dinner.” I’ve also talked with singles who have shared the same sentiments, “I’m rarely invited out after a worship service.” It seems the message we are displaying is that we have nothing in common, or that their children may mess up our home, or that we think single adults wouldn’t feel comfortable being with us because we are a couple.
Recently, I sat behind a mother with her three children in church. Her husband was out of town and she was trying her best to keep her children involved in the service and quiet. Afterwards, she turned to my husband and I and apologized, “I’m sorry, my husband is out of town and I was trying my best by myself.” I was a little stunned by her remark as during the worship service I had silently cheered for her, “Yea for this mom! She has her children in church, they are paging through their children’s Bibles, and they are engaging in worship.” It was obvious by her statement that, at some point in her parenting years, this mother had been judged critically by someone for the behavior of her children. Isn’t church a practice ground for taking the hymns, prayers, and liturgy back home? If that is so, and we want our children to grow in their faith, then church WILL be a little messy. That is just part of what church is all about!
In most of our churches, there are greeters at the entrance doors. Have we come to depend on them to relieve us of introducing ourselves to those we do not know, especially those who may be different from us?
A Challenge to You
Here is a worthy challenge: the next time you have the opportunity, step out of your comfort zone and approach someone who you do not know, someone who is alone, maybe even a single parent with children. Take a moment to get to know them better. Befriend them. Embrace them. If we all do this, we may just find ourselves taking those necessary intentional steps towards fostering a warm, family friendly culture in our congregations that provides the environment of truly being the Body of Christ to all.