4 Ways Singles Can Make a Difference
- Tim Laitinen Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 5 May
Making a difference.
How often do we slip into a regular pattern of life, and then find ourselves convicted about not making enough of a difference in our world?
We’re good at loading ourselves with guilt, assuming our “ordinary” lives are inferior to bold, exciting adventures full of flashy ministry and impact. We evaluate ourselves by looking at what other people are doing, instead of what God has given us to do.
But if all of us were living “extraordinary” lives, wouldn’t the extraordinary then be ordinary?
Meanwhile, what kind of impact does God want us to have, if not a life of honest worship in all that we do and say? Whether we find such a routine exciting or not.
I think I can prove this through four subtle ways single Christians in North America impact our churches, and our world. These are ordinary, unexceptional things, but through them, might we be making more of a difference than we realize?
Guys With Trucks Make the Move
Take moving, for instance. Every singles group I’ve been in – even when I lived in New York City – had people needing help with moving their household furniture. It’s like part of the DNA of singles groups. And how many singles ministries don’t (coincidentally) have guys with pickup trucks who can’t avoid being obliged to help!
Fortunately, pickup owners usually love hauling things, and raving about how much stuff they can fit into the bed of their truck. After all, have you ever met a pickup owner whose truck bed is spotless, without a scrape or dent? The scars your furniture may put in their vehicle will be like badges of honor to them. Even if that damage doesn’t look so great on your furniture.
Still, getting dirty and sweaty moving somebody else’s stuff isn’t exactly thrilling, is it? Especially since singles tend to move a lot. But think about it: have you ever helped on one of these moves and found your group had less camaraderie afterwards?
How about this? I used to work in the accounting office for a large church, and let me tell you: one learns an awful lot about a church by working with its money!
Usually, pastors preach about tithing with an eye towards traditional families in their congregation. However, if the church where I worked is representative of most, we can overlook the impact singles are making biweekly or monthly on Kingdom business.
I didn’t intend to spy on my friends, but I was one of the people who posted weekly contributions into our church’s database for IRS purposes. And I can testify that my fellow singles were generously participating before God and honoring him in the financial ministry of our congregation. From high-dollar checks to the widow’s mite, it may be a perfunctory obligation at the time, but bringing our first fruits to God’s storehouse is a basic way all of us can participate in something extraordinary.
Unfortunately, only a fraction of any church’s membership tithe, and I sometimes wonder how much more God may have in store for us if more singles were obedient in this area. We can debate the ways God’s money is spent, but we can’t debate tithing because of our marital status.
After all, if we’re hoarding our money until something more exceptional comes along, will the wait really be worth it?
Tipping the Hat to Single Tippers
Speaking of money, I’ve come to suspect that we singles make better tippers in restaurants.
Okay, so maybe this is more assumption than observation, but I’ve had a bit of practical experience here, too. One of the assorted jobs I’ve held in my life was at a local Mexican restaurant that’s popular with groups, because its tables can be easily maneuvered to accommodate large parties of diners.
Fortunately for me, I never worked on Sundays, but it’s no secret in the restaurant industry that Sunday lunch customers are the week’s worst tippers. At least here in Texas, part of the Bible Belt, where many Sunday morning churchgoers dine out after services. It’s a tradition I enjoy as much as anybody. But do you tip well?
I suspect you do. Why? Because at the restaurant where I worked, groups of singles aren’t dreaded like groups of families are. Hey – the people serving you on Sundays can tell where you’ve just been, and can usually deduce how customers they’re serving are related. Especially if you’re talking about churchy things, or asking for separate checks.
Inevitably, come Monday, I’d hear about how a group of families in their Sunday best left a couple of bucks and a stack of religious tracts on their table. Meanwhile, how often have you gone out with your singles group after church and had your server cheerfully encourage you to linger while they refilled your coffee or iced tea for the umpteenth time?
Not that we’re more spiritual than married folks. Or even wealthier! But maybe it’s because most waiters and waitresses are single themselves, and we know what that's like?
Talk about putting your money where your mouth is! People see us, and are watching. Especially other singles who may not yet be walking with our Lord.
Singled Out for Nursery Duty
If there was one universal request churches disproportionately make of their singles groups, what would it be? That we would serve more in the nursery, right?
We’re exhorted that taking care of babies during church helps prepare us for marriage and having kids of our own. Which may be traditionally and technically true, except that many singles today are parents already.
While I suspect single parents can make a convincing case for their church time being better spent in the fellowship of their peers, I’ve yet to be in a church where married parents are as reliable a resource for nursery staffing as they could be. Nevertheless, all things being equal, if we single adults want legitimacy in our congregations, our sharing in all of its needs and functions extends – for brave diaper warriors – to those pastel-colored rooms with the funny smells.
I confess I’ve never volunteered for nursery duty, but I’ve heard war stories from the front, and I applaud my fellow singles who’ve answered the call. Besides, it’s one of the ordinary things singles can do that might hold a hidden reward: I have two now-married friends who actually met while volunteering in our church’s nursery.
Okay, so maybe church childcare can have an unexpectedly huge impact on any of us singles!
Meanwhile, it’s been said that life is what happens while we’re waiting for life’s big events to happen. In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul admits wanting his mortal burdens to be “swallowed up” by eternal life, but that we’re to find our purpose in pleasing God, not ourselves. And obviously, helping our fellow singles move, being a Christ-honoring tither and tipper, or pulling extra duty in the church nursery are hardly extraordinary, compelling activities. But they’re part of the life God has given us, aren’t they?
For his glory, and our good.
One ordinary day at a time.
From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.
Publication date: May 13, 2014