Church Hospitality: A Short Guide
Church hospitality isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s essential. Here are 4 practical ways to prepare for the 2 types of guests you should expect.
November 18, 2020
Among singles in your church, love is probably a pain point.
These compose merely a fraction of the issues that are top-of-mind for many singles on Valentine’s Day.
Commercialized love—and the expectation of our culture to measure love in terms of having a partner—can feel crushing for many singles in the church.
Here, we’re going to unpack seven relevant topics for singles in your church that translate into the myriad of issues they are faced with on a holiday that celebrates something they don’t have.
Jesus himself was single. He sets an example for married and single Christians alike to live a life of devotion to God. Jesus was a perfect human being: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peer 2:22). And yet, he remained celibate his entire life.
This proves that it is possible to live a fulfilling life that pleases the Lord and never take a spouse. A life without marriage is not a “lesser” life. There are unfulfilled longings and the loneliness of walking a different path than the social norm, but God can do special work through those who don’t have the responsibility of a family: “it is good for them to remain single, as I am” (1 Cor. 7:8).
David Prays in the Psalms: “The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9). God has his eye on those who are making their way through life alone. He cares about the needs of singles just as he cares for the needs of families. God does not favor the married over the single—even though the single life can feel a little more isolating.
The Apostle Paul is so sensitive to God’s heart for those who are alone that he has a special command for Timothy, who is planting churches: “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Tim 5:3). Paul understands that the church ought to reflect the heart of God. Whether it does this well or not, the single Christian can take comfort in the fact that God desires to provide with them according to their every need (Phil. 4:19).
Broken relationships are more and more common in the context of Christian dating. The heart-wrenching process of finding a compatible spouse can take a toll on one’s spiritual life. It’s natural for singles to wonder: “Is God working overtime to keep my single?”
Far from it. It may be God’s plan for you to be single—but if it is, and you desire to marry, there’s no way for you to know firmly what his plan is for you. Past failure is not indicative of future results. Every marriage story goes something like this: “It didn’t work, it didn’t work, it didn’t work—and then one day, it worked!” We can never tell when the time will come when we meet the person who we will spend the rest of our lives with, but in the meantime, we can trust that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
We must also trust God that he is using a present season of singleness for a bigger purpose. The beauty of being a Christian is that we don’t have to live in an aimless and chaotic world where tragedy doesn’t mean anything. God always has line-of-sight on the return he wants to yield from your current season of loneliness.
Proverbs 16:4 says: “The LORD works out everything to its proper end.” Keep this in mind. We wouldn’t need this proverb if we were all-seeing and all-knowing. But we’re not. And God chose to tell us that he has a plan for everything. As we walk through times of waiting, that reality can be a comfort to us.
It’s sometimes easy to think, through all the loneliness and heartbreak that can come with a season of singleness, marriage may not be worth the fight after all. But the Apostle Paul celebrates marriage when writing to the church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
Marriage is a picture of what Christ does for the church in the gospel. Marriage, being a picture of this beautiful reality, is worth pursuing because it provides us a special lens into the grace, patience, commitment, and love of God for us in Christ.
Marriage is something you should be preparing for even before you know who you’ll marry. There are many habits that are easy to cultivate in the single life that don’t translate well into marriage. Some key critical habits to cultivate are: patience, charitable listening, tidiness, communication, and compromise.
Above all—it is important to determine what is the nature of Christian love and romance, and what best enables you to serve someone else for a lifetime. For the Apostle Paul, those basic skills are genuineness in love and moral self-control: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
One of the best ways to do this is to get to know healthy families in the church and add value to their lives. Babysit for them. Ask them about how they met and got married. Married couples in the church can be a great source of wisdom and encouragement as you prepare yourself to be in a marriage relationship.
Everything in life happens in seasons. The older you get, the clearer this becomes. Singleness, like all seasons, ends when it ends. There is simply no way to predict when and how the season will end. But it’s important to do two things with a season: (1) make the most of it while you’re in it, and (2) recognize that it, like all seasons, will most likely come to an end, bringing relief to what can for some be a painful season.
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Singleness is simply one of those unavoidable seasons of great potential for transformation and the sting of loneliness that permeates this pocket of time.
As a preacher, you are able to use any of these 7 angles to address any issue in the single life I listed at the beginning of this article. You don’t need to preach exclusively to singles on Valentine’s Day Sunday, but these strategies supply ways of making tangential points in your sermon that tie in organically to almost any other holiday-appropriate sermon topic.