February 21, 2014
God—I prayed—you have called me to ministry. And everyone knows that I cannot be in ministry without a husband. And God, you know this already, but it’s the end of the first year of this three-year master’s program. If it is best to date for one whole year before engagement, and I am going to need a year to plan (and save for) my graduation-time wedding…then, in faith, I know I can trust you to bring me a boyfriend…well, right now. Amen.
I seriously prayed this. Last summer. And when I was finished, I smiled. And then I thought: God is faithful. His plans for my future marriage/ministry cannot be thwarted. I can have confidence that He will provide me a husband!
And no boyfriend came.
A few months later, after a this-is-so-out-of-the-blue-this-can-only-be-God set of circumstances, I was signing an offer letter for a dream job as the Student Ministries Director of my church’s newest campus. The job would entail not only shaping a new student ministry but helping shepherd a congregation—just as God has given me the passion to do.
I was so excited about the job [read: blindsided by all the work I needed to do to help launch the campus] that it took me a couple weeks to look down and realize that…eh…there was still no ring on my finger and no man on the horizon.
And it was God’s turn to smile. He had been faithful. His plans for my ministry had not been thwarted. But a husband was not a part of the deal.
And I began my ministry as young, single woman.
I am a child of the I-kissed-dating-goodbye-true-love-waits-boundaries-in-dating era, and a proud and adamant complementarian. I believe, strongly, in the power of male and female partnership in ministry. But I am ministering, by “no fault of my own” (I guess, besides signing the offer letter) as a young, single woman.
So my first I-kissed-dating-goodbye-true-love-waits-boundaries-in-dating question is: Is that even allowed (even though I followed the rules and I am still single)?
My second is: If the Pew Research is correct, and people in America are waiting longer to get married and there are likely to be more single people sitting in our pews (no pun intended) and outside our church doors than ever before, what does this mean for how we steward our churches?
I am not proposing that we should change everything or anything really—but I am proposing that we have a conversation, amongst church leaders, about singleness, dating, homosexuality, marriage and healthy church dynamics.
More crudely put, are the chaste (and not so chaste), in our pews a waste?
I think not, and I hope that you would agree. But, if this is the case, then what does that mean for our churches?
I invite you to add your voice to the conversation this Thursday, February 27 at Gordon-Conwell in South Hamilton. Learn more.
Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.