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Weekly SNAC 7 October 2018: Single-Minded Conference 2018

It may surprise you, but statistics show that one in three people in our churches are single. Our minds often jump to think of those who have never been married, but in reality, singleness comes in many shades. Even those of us who were once married can find ourselves single after the death of a spouse or after a divorce. With the number of single people in our churches growing, it’s important that we think hard about how we love and care for our brothers and sisters, and it was this need that gave birth to the first Single-Minded Conference. It may surprise you, but statistics show that one in three people in our churches are single. Our minds often jump to think of those who have never been married, but in reality, singleness comes in many shades. Even those of us who were once married can find ourselves single after the death of a spouse or after a divorce. With the number of single people in our churches growing, it’s important that we think hard about how we love and care for our brothers and sisters, and it was this need that gave birth to the first Single-Minded Conference. 

Marketed as a conference ‘about singleness but for everyone’, Single-Minded aimed to equip both single and married Christians to think Biblically about singleness and dispel common myths that our world (and churches) believe. The conference sold out in under a month, but for those who attended (including some of us from SNAC) it was a refreshing reminder of what God’s word has to say on the topic. 

1. If marriage shows us the shape of the Gospel, singleness shows us the sufficiency of the Gospel. 
We need to remind ourselves that our marriages, while a wonderful gift from God, are merely signs that point us to a deeper reality. They remind us of our union with Christ Jesus, who is the perfect husband to his bride, the church. Marriage itself is not meant to fulfil us and we are not to live as if it will (1 Cor 7:29), but rather, it points us all to the thing that does – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, in the new creation marriage will be no more because we will finally have the real thing – a perfect relationship with our Lord and Saviour (Matt 22:30). This means that a full and complete life is not dependant on marriage. Jesus himself was single and he experienced life to the full, demonstrating that a complete life is found in whole-heartedly serving God. We can experience everything that makes us human without being married – the gospel is sufficient. 

2. Take advantage of the blessings 
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul explains the great advantage of being single – you are free from the anxieties that come from marriage (v. 32). In God’s kindness, He offers us a way to be spared the unique hardships that come from being married and this in turn leads to many freedoms and blessings. The way we can use our money and our time, the ministries we can be involved in and also our capacity to care for others (to name a few) are all impacted. Those of us who are single need to take hold of these blessings, rejoice in God’s provision of them and use them for His glory. 

3. Remember that grief and contentment are different  
True contentment is a trust in God and obedience to His word through the ups and downs of life (Philippians 4:12–13). It’s important to recognise though that singleness can be a hard thing, and that people will feel it differently. Contentment doesn’t always mean happiness. There is often grief surrounding what we no longer have or may never have. These emotions don’t mean we are discontent, they’re just an expression of our emotional reality. Contentment does mean however that we give these feelings to God and hold onto the hope of the Gospel, finding satisfaction in that alone, despite our circumstances.

Ultimately, all Christians are called to contentment in our circumstances and the conference reminded us to love each other deeply and spur one another on to fix our eyes on Jesus. Whether we are single or married we are to live single-minded lives for Jesus, finding fulfilment in him alone. 

Avril Lonsdale (with Esther Griffiths and Lucy Wu)