Three Steps for Singles to Build Their Own Family Part II: Being a Part of a Community


Side note: my book Getting Naked Later is now being published by a major publisher, Harvest House, under the new title Cupid is a Procrastinator: Making Sense of the Unexpected Single Life. The new book has a book study in it that would be a great way to build community with other single friends.  Buy the book as a gift for yourself or a friend for Valentine’s Day!

Click here to read reviews (under the self published title.)

Click here to buy the new book.

In my last post, we looked at how singles can build our own family by giving ourselves to others. Today we are going to look at another way to build our own family: being a part of a community.

To illustrate how powerful community is, I want to look at the life of St. Patrick. This famous saint understood that the Gospel is beautifully communicated through family, whether a traditional family or a body of believers.

According to the book The Celtic Way of Evangelism, Patrick was an Englishman in the fifth century who was sold into slavery to Ireland when he was sixteen. He escaped after six years and returned to Ireland. Many years later, he came back to Ireland to bring the good news to the people who once held him captive.

Patrick decided to try something different than the Roman model, which looked like people who already believe come to church and listen to a priest. Patrick would travel with a small group of believers and ask the leaders of a an Irish community if they could set up camp near the town center.

Patrick’s small group of people, which would include singles, marrieds, religious leaders, normal citizens, and artists, would live in a shared space together. They would eat together on a regular basis and worship together. They would attempt to learn a lot about the culture and befriend people, praying for them, and being  part of the greater community.

They would invite their new friends into the missional community for meals and, if they were ready, worship times. The people were not told that they had to believe before they belonged. Patrick and his community brought about a message that said “you belong even before you believe.”

If you were part of Patrick’s core community, you were paired up with an anamchara which is translated as “soul friend.” These pairs would listen to, counsel, and challenge each other.

What were the results of this new way of doing things? Patrick and his peopled planted at about 700 churches. Within Patrick’s lifetime, thirty to forty of Ireland’s 150 tribes considered themselves Christians. Quite impressive numbers considering there were almost no Christians in Ireland before Patrick came.

Community is powerful. It allows you to feel like you are a part of a family, something singles desperately need. But even more importantly, it shows the world the love of Jesus. As the old song says they will know we are Christians by our love.

Here are some steps to take towards community…

Step 1: Ask yourself if your “independent” life is worth it.

This is the world most Americans have created to keep ourselves as comfortable as possible: we wake up and turn on the radio so we don’t have to think. We eat our cereal alone so we don’t have to cook. We drive to our jobs so we don’t have to interact. We nod to our roommates when we get home and hole ourselves in our rooms so we don’t have to invest. We put fences up so we don’t have to connect. We participate in social networking so we don’t have to communicate anything deep. We check our iphones as often as possible to saturate our minds with information so we don’t have to contemplate. We watch our televisions so we don’t have to feel. And in these days that blur into months that blur into lifetimes, we are incredibly comfortable. But we are also incredibly unhappy and lonely.

Ask yourself, is my independence and comfortability worth living a life without community?

Step 2: Look for a healthy place to be in community.

If the answer to step one is no, it’s time to start looking for community. In my own search, I have ended up living on two farms that were intentional communities, and other organizations that are built around missional community. (Jacob’s Springs in Boulder, CO,  Beta Communities where I now live in San Diego who actually pattern themselves after Patrick’s way of evangelism,  Innerchange in San Francisco, and YWAM all over the place.) These were situations in which I actually lived in the same house or farm with other people who have committed to live life, eat meals, and worship together.

If that is a little too much for you, look for churches where there are very strong cell groups put in place. If you go to a big church but never go to a small group you run the risk of thinking you have authentic community when all you really have is a place that you go to listen to a sermon and have surfacey conversations about how cute your new shoes are. God’s desire for family runs much deeper than that.

Step 3: Figure out ways for you and your friends to foster community, especially if there is nothing yet in place where you live.

Start a book study  that will bond you with a group of people. Start a small group with your church, either incorporating other singles or a mix of people of different family backgrounds and age groups. In those groups, go consider going beyond bible studies by asking good questions about each other’s lives and dreams and frustrations. Create a space where people can be vulnerable.

Something as simple as people talking about the high and low points of their weeks or letting one person tell 15 minutes of their life story each week fosters a feeling of community.

Other ideas that go beyond church are to start a community garden so you can meet your neighbors. Or you can start a weekly potluck, even one with no bible study attached to it, where you can invite friends and people who don’t yet know Jesus so you can build good relationships with them.

Personally, I would rather have covenant than independence. I’d rather make meals that take time and effort with my friends than eat a bowl of cereal, go to my room, and watch YouTube videos alone. I’d rather have a house that is full of love and companionship with a few dirty dishes in the sink than a perfectly ordered, spotless house with no one in it.

I’d rather have family.

It’s not good for us to be alone. No matter how much freedom we have when we are alone, it is not good. God himself said that.

It is good for us to be in a family, even if we have to build our own.

6 thoughts on “Three Steps for Singles to Build Their Own Family Part II: Being a Part of a Community

  1. Great blog! I think I’ll try to set up a cell group here. I was also interested that you mentioned St. Patrick’s life because my home church in Colorado is based on his ministry. I can’t remember if you’re familiar with it or not:
    They have some great articles and blogs about how we are doing ministry by his example.

  2. Kate, this post as well as the past one really resonated with me. I’m thinking, praying, and planning toward moving just across the border from you to Tijuana, Mexico, to work with the Salvation Army there. I’ve lived a comfortable but very lonely and sterile life alone in my apartment in comfortable Canada for far too long. I’m sure living in Mexico will offer its challenges but it will offer community and purpose, two things my life severely lacks right now. Blessings to you in this new stage of your life.

  3. Creating a family of whatever group you belong to is a good idea. Having a family to turn to i think, can be the most growing experience too. I left home at 30…my brothers were gone, I had half a house, space, company, and enjoyed learning about my parents as friends and equals, and many friends came to share the warm welcome.
    Mind you, I was so busy with camping and such during holidays..I teach..that I was away a lot, and those groups were a mixture of marrieds, singles etc.
    My home church was awful after I turned about 18, I was the only single, and the best company was my parents loving friends who treated me as an equal, but the young marrieds! What a selfish group they were, no contact, once I’d been to their wedding and given them a nice gift.
    Finding groups to mix with is vital, being single doesn’t mean you can’t have warm friendships with the opposite sex, go out on friend nights as a pair, partner a friend to a formal do, as a friend from an invitation etc.
    I was a very happy single after finding a church where a family with 3 sons and a daughter took me under their wing. I was close friend with the sons, the daughter, and the family looked on me as a second daughter, and a hug and kiss hello and goodbye was enough to make me feel wanted, in a feminine friend way. I made a very close male friend, and everyone expected wedding bells, except us, we were so close, sat together, talked all the time, taught Sunday School together, went places, kiss and hug on meeting and parting, but there was nothing more between us than this warmth and connection, it does happen, and very good if it does come about.
    Our group was mixed ages, some married young, others late and later again, other remained single, I think the relaxed closeness of the group took the married or else out of the picture, we relaxed more, and that gave us freedom to share no matter our status.
    Yes, I eventually married, now facing this situation with my 26 year old son who is going through tough times, but learning how to make close female friends before looking for ‘the wife’, and not feeling so desparate.
    He has made some good friends, and some mistakes on line, but Christian friends can be found in any walk of life. Two girls like him a lot, but he sees them as friends only, so now he sees it’s not about his value, but about if and when he meets some one he feels led to. He won’t entertain just any relationship as he doesn’t think he could cope with a close relationship falling apart, he is waiting, fairly well now, on God, amd leading a busy, full, sharing and giving life just like I had.
    Wisest advise from an older male friend who was single, don’t look like you are needy or hunting, relax, have confidence in yourself as a daughter of the King, approach people cheerfully, no matter how you feel inside, and slowly you grow as a whole person, and you are treated better.if you want friends, to belong to be accepted, then don’t wait for the others to come to you, go to them, advise from a wise friend of my mum, actually to a married lady in our church whoop felt very insecure, best thing out. It’s not easy walking the single time, or the married time, check out some of those sites about dreadful ‘complementarian’ marriages…hell on earth for some, making the most of what ever you have is the thing. 🙂

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