Church Planting Survival Guide for the Single Christian (And for the married people around them)
By Alex Lomangino
Singleness and church planting has become a bit of a quagmire in the modern approach to missions. Unfortunately, depending on your theological tradition, the western church has functionally exchanged the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:25-35 for the idea that one cannot be effective in Great Commission work until they are married. I am intimately acquainted with this idea. I have been the brunt of jokes and other unhelpful comments related to how effective I can be as a single Christian seeking to multiply disciples and plant churches. I want to share a few lessons I have learned for surviving Church planting as a single Christian. I hope this serves as an encouragement to the single radicals and to the married couples labouring alongside them.
1. Prioritize time with God
This should be a given but we are prone to forget the basics and often make things more complicated than they are in reality. The key to surviving Church planting as a single Christian is to invest in your relationship with God. How can you share with others about the benefits of a relationship with God; if you yourself don’t invest in a relationship with Him? I think this is what Paul was encouraging Timothy with when he told him to “watch your life and doctrine closely… you will save both yourself and others.” (1 Tim 4:16) Pray, study the Bible, fast, kill sin, and fight for your character. I am only effective when I am spending time with God and walking in the Spirit.
2. Fight for community
Church planting is isolating for whoever invests their time in it. It can feel even more isolating for those of us who are single. We are communal beings and we need to be in community with others. (Gen 2:18) If you can, join planting teams and do not try to be a lone wolf. Find people who are not looking for you to “lead them,” invest in those relationships, and learn to be a good friend. Spend time with married couples and their families. I have found it to be beneficial for me to see godly family dynamics modelled.
3. Maximize singleness
Take full advantage of being “without concerns…” as Paul writes to the singles at Corinth (1 Cor. 7:32a). I have not taken a vow of celibacy and I would like to be married one day. God has simply not allowed marriage to be a reality at this point. In the meantime, I am taking full advantage of my freedom and maximizing my singleness. In doing so, I have trained hundreds in how to share the gospel while also engaging in more Spiritual conversations than I can count. I have also been able to assist other church plants in crisis moments and stay up late counselling a dude through his painful past. In summary, I have a lot of time to leverage for the Kingdom of God and I love it.
Singleness is not a curse. It can be a blessing. Will you maximize your singleness for kingdom impact? Will you help your single teammates and the singles in your church to maximize this “gift” for however long they have it?