Over the next few weeks we’ll be producing a blog series titled “Building Bridges Across the Generational Divide.” As you read a variety of perspectives from women from different walks of life and different generations, we hope that you’ll feel encouraged and challenged to reach out with grace, understanding, and empathy to connect with those in a different generation.
By Dr. Stephanie Averill
“Well, really, our mission is to reach out to young families,” said the pastor of the church I had recently joined. “That’s our demographic. And if people feel left out, well, that’s too bad but they can find another church.” That hurt. As a 30-ish professional woman with no prospects of a romantic relationship, I didn’t fit the mold. And having just moved across the country entirely alone, far from any support system, the church was the only “family” I had. Eventually I did form some close relationships there, but within certain limits and largely driven by my own initiative. It would have been easier to walk away. I’m sure some did.
Not everyone is quite as blunt as this minister was, but the sentiments are all too common throughout the church as singles are often relegated to the fringes, either through purposeful segregation or simple neglect. This isolation is a tourniquet, depriving the Body of the use of its limb, and choking off that limb in the process. The Apostle Paul was single, and recognized singleness as a unique gift (1 Cor. 7:7). All God-given functions are essential to the life of the Body. We are “individually members of one another.” Each of us bears the responsibility to maintain that connection. You are a vital part of the Body of Christ. Use your gifts. Take the initiative and reach out to others, encouraging them to exercise their God-given purpose.
Ponder: How has God used your own experiences of isolation to give you a tender heart for those who are outcast and neglected among us (2 Cor. 1:3-4)? What steps can you take in your own church to ensure that each member of the Body is cherished?
Prayer: Father, you have given the Church all the people and gifts that it needs to fulfill Your purposes. But we confess that we have not always used those gifts properly. Isolation should have no place in our midst. Help us to reach out to one another. Give us the power of Your Holy Spirit to shed patterns forged by tradition and culture and to be transformed in Your image as the true Body of Christ. Amen.
Further Resource: “Why We Need Single Women Leaders,” by Amy Jackson, http://www.christianitytoday.com/women-leaders/2017/september/why-we-need-single-women-leaders.html
Stephanie Averill is a stay-at-home mom and history professor in Fort Polk, Louisiana. She lives the nomadic Army life with her husband Jonathan, a chaplain, and two little girls. When she’s not kissing boo boos for the kiddos or grading masters theses (and hopefully not getting the two mixed up), she volunteers in the military community, plays her guitar, and chips away at the three or four writing projects she always seems to have going at once.