Church Membership: A Single Woman’s Perspective
When I moved to Washington D.C. over three years ago, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t be able to find a good church. Little did I know what the Lord had in store. It’s been over three years since I first entered the doors of my church, and I wanted to share some reflections on my experience as a church member in a local church, particularly as a single women.
When I first joined, many of the things I experienced were brand new. I grew up in a Christian home and have attended church my entire life, but joining my current church was the first time in my adult life I’ve ever sought out a church, gone through membership classes, and been intentional about being a part of a local church community. Being part of this community has come with an even longer list of “firsts”: my first church membership interview, my first intentional conversation with an elder, my first time truly praying for the church where I’ve chosen to invest myself, and my first time being discipled by older women.
At this point, I should probably confess: when I first began attending my church, I’d never given much thought to church membership. And if I’m honest, it all sounded a bit dull to me. I didn’t seek to understand why the Bible placed so much emphasis on the church. However, as I attended my church week after week I learned—yet another first—why it was important to be a member of a local church. The Lord had a lot to teach me and my prideful heart needed to stop asking, “What can I get from my church?” Instead, I needed to ask, “What can I give?” I’ve learned how to serve my brothers and sisters, instead of expecting to constantly be on the receiving end.
The local church is one of the primary tools the Lord uses to help believers walk together toward heaven. It’s in the church where we’re able to allow people to truly know us. When I first joined, I was shocked at the amount of people who asked how I was doing, and stuck around long enough to hear an answer and even follow up in the following weeks and months.
One thing our church regularly prays for is for church members to ask one another vulnerable and awkward questions. I’ve seen this modeled for me and begun to put it into practice.
You can’t properly care for someone you don’t seek to know.
Being a single woman can feel lonely. Even if you’re attending a solid church, simply attending once a week isn’t enough to truly get to know the community. That’s where discipling relationships have made a world of difference. There are several ladies with whom I regularly meet who pour into me, guide me, ask me difficult questions, and rebuke me when the situation requires.
To my fellow sisters, especially those who are single: Don’t be afraid to seek out those relationships. Ask women if they’ll regularly meet with you. Wives and moms are incredibly busy, so be willing to be extra-flexible with their schedules. Hang out in their kitchen while they cook dinner, go for a walk with their little ones and have a conversation, offer to bring over dessert. You might have to get creative with discipleship—it doesn’t have to be once a week at a coffee shop—but the important thing is that you’re actively investing in others,and being discipled.
Before my time at my current church, I’d never had a conversation with an elder. Over the past three years, the elders at my church have shepherded my heart through some incredibly difficult seasons of suffering. In fact, my church’s elders have been one God’s greatest kindnesses to me. These men are trusted, wise, tender, and above all else, godly. Without a doubt, being able to seek counsel from an elder has been one of the biggest surprises and delights of being a member at my local church.
A few notes to pastors, elders and congregations as they seek to care well for single women.
Many single women in your congregations are away from their families. Because of this, one way to care for us is to invite us into your homes and allow us to be a part of your lives. It’s truly a sweet gift to be able to get to know you and your families. In fact, by going into the homes of fellow church members, I’ve gotten to see Christian marriages, Christian parenting, and even Christian conflict resolution—all on full display.
Would you also ask us how we’re doing in our singleness? There are seasons where I’m struggling quite a lot with it. Maybe I haven’t been asked out in a long time. Maybe I’m being tempted to covet someone else’s relationship or marriage. Maybe I’m frustrated at the Lord by my singleness, and need to be reminded of God’s promises. Not every woman faces the same struggles in their singleness, so get to know different single women and ask what their specific struggles are with singleness.
And then pray with and for us. I’ve been greatly encouraged by the fact that our pastors regularly pray for the single sisters on Sunday evenings. It’s encouraging to know we’re being intentionally lifted up in prayer before our Father.
While there are specific ways to care for different groups of people at the church, it often boils down to putting the “one anothers” into practice with every church member:
- “Be at peace with one another.” (Mk. 9:50)
- “Bear with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
- “Love one another.” (1 Pet. 1:22)
- “Serve one another”. (Gal. 5:13)
- “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2)
- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32)
I’m called to singleness in this particular season, because I’m not married. My relational status might change one day and it might not—the Lord doesn’t guarantee me a husband. All this means I need the church to remind me my true identity isn’t in how desirable men might find me or if I’m pursued for marriage, but that I’ve already been ultimately pursued and my greatest needs are met in God.