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Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Out of Ur ^ | January 31, 2011 | Mark Almlie

Posted on 03/20/2011 7:03:47 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby

Is being a Protestant single pastor like being a married Catholic priest? Is it an oxymoron?

I never would have thought so until the economic crisis hit, and I had to find a new pastoral position. For the first time in my career my future was in the hands of a search committee, rather than a personal connection.

I’m ordained, 37, single (never married), with experience pastoring in large churches. Given my credentials, I had zero anxiety initially. Then I started reading “job requirement” phrases like these in pastoral job applications:

-“We are looking for a married man” -“Preferably married” -“Is married (preferably with children)”

These churches explicitly were not looking to hire someone single--like Jesus or Paul. I then was surprised to discover that even though the majority of adult Americans are single (52 percent), that only 2 percent of senior pastors in my denomination are single! Something was clearly amiss.

Why were so many churches “requiring” a pastor to be married? Jesus wasn’t. Paul wasn’t. Almost all pastors were single until the time of the Reformation. Is it wise to “require” that our Evangelical pastors be married? Is it biblical?

Some Perspective from Church History

For the first 1,500 years of church history singleness, not marriage, was lauded as next to godliness. Let me say that again—for the first fifteen hundred years.

St. Jerome’s 4th century holiness codes (which were widely embraced), taught that celibate singleness was 100 percent holy, widowhood 60 percent, and marriage a paltry 30 percent. One reason for this pervasive way of thinking was an overly physiological interpretation of Psalm 51:5. “In sin my mother conceived me” was taken to mean that the act of having sex was sinful because it passed on the sin nature.

Thus married couples who kept having sex were considered only 30 percent holy. Widows were no longer having sex so they moved up the perceived holiness ladder to 60 percent. Celibate singles never had sex. Ergo, in the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, singles were the moral high class of society.

Sound ridiculous? It was. It still is. It made an idol out of singleness.

One of the biggest scandals of the Reformation was Martin Luther preaching that it was okay to renounce your vow of celibacy. Against Jerome and the church fathers, whom he criticized as “never having written anything good about marriage,” he had the audacity to preach that marriage was a good thing. Then the former monk did the most “unholy” thing imaginable: he got married. It’s quite possible that no one in the history of the church has done more to elevate the status of marriage than Luther.

The Middle Ages undervalued marriage and over emphasized singleness. Today Evangelicals do just the opposite: we undervalue singleness and over emphasize marriage. History reveals that it’s hard for us Christians to think of marriage and singleness as equally good. But scripture beckons us to do just that.

Singleness is “Good”

Paul opens his chapter on singleness and marriage by saying, “It is good for a man not to marry” (1 Corinthians 7:1). It’s good? Have you ever heard singleness taught as “good” from the pulpit? Paul would be happy if “all men” (vs. 7) were single, celibate, and serving Christ undivided by the concerns of a spouse and children. “Now to the unmarried and widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (vs. 8). Are you crazy Paul? Do you really think someone can stay unmarried and be an effective senior pastor? You seem just a bit out of touch with our Evangelical culture.

Paul wasn’t crazy. There is nothing more holy, righteous, or godly about marriage than there is about singleness. Nothing. They are both equally good before God. That’s Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 7. If you’re married, that’s wonderful. If you’re single, that’s wonderful too. You can effectively pastor the church single or married.

We need to move from a church culture that says “Many of my best friends are single” to one that can say “Many of our best pastors are single.” I don’t want to lose heart; I want to believe that it’s possible for 650 million Evangelicals to finally embrace the equal dignity the Scriptures bestow upon both singleness and marriage.

The bottom line is that it is not about being single or married. It’s about being called and gifted by the Spirit to minister to people both like and unlike us (race, gender, marital status, etc). I plead with search committees everywhere to reflect on the implications of 1 Corinthians 7 before overlooking your next single pastoral candidate. They deserve to be evaluated on their excellence, not their marital status.

—Mark Almlie is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Miscellaneous; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: christianity; pastor; religion; singles; unmarried
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1 posted on 03/20/2011 7:04:00 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

As long as your celebate and not gay, I don’t see the problem.


2 posted on 03/20/2011 7:06:46 PM PDT by Fido969
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
Most people want a pastor who can help them with life. They want the pastor to be able to relate to them and being in a romantic relationship is a big part of most people's life.
3 posted on 03/20/2011 7:07:29 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer (biblein90days.org))
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To: Fido969

Or a pedophile but maybe thats covered under the gay thing


4 posted on 03/20/2011 7:08:12 PM PDT by al baby (Hi Mom!!! <sarc>)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

In my experience, never-married men are very underrepresented in churches.


5 posted on 03/20/2011 7:08:39 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: thackney
Most people want a pastor who can help them with life. They want the pastor to be able to relate to them.

My mother's pastor is single, and I believe my mother would agree with you.

6 posted on 03/20/2011 7:11:13 PM PDT by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: thackney

People who are single into their 30s and 40s also want someone who can relate to them, too.


7 posted on 03/20/2011 7:11:54 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

You know, a lot of people are hung up the “husband of one wife thing” but it never seems to apply to never married only divorced men. It seems to me everyone is hung up on something but Jesus was the only one “Hung Up” on a cross.


8 posted on 03/20/2011 7:12:20 PM PDT by WKB (We have Bachmann all we need to do is "Turner" on the "Over Drive")
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

I was told by a Pastor friend of mine that years ago Pentecostal churches strongly suggested marriage to their ordained Pastors, because the feeling was that if you were married, you wouldn’t fall into a sinful relationship with any female members of the congregation.


9 posted on 03/20/2011 7:13:03 PM PDT by richmwill
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To: richmwill
because the feeling was that if you were married, you wouldn’t fall into a sinful relationship with any female members of the congregation.

Looks like they're overlooking the "if you're married sometimes you will fall into a sinful relationship with a female member of the congregation or the church secretary" side of things, or the "if you're unmarried sometimes you'll fall into a sinful relationship with a female member of the congregation."
10 posted on 03/20/2011 7:17:58 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Just tell them that your a widow by choice.


11 posted on 03/20/2011 7:19:37 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

I think the single girls like the idea.

I personally know of one who landed the handsome single pastor. They now have three kids and I firmly believe are very much in love. She had been the director of music but I don’t think she has done that anymore. She does sing specials sometimes and has a pro voice.


12 posted on 03/20/2011 7:19:57 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: Fido969

**As long as your [sic] celebate [sic] and not gay, I don’t see the problem.**

Would you say the same about a Catholic priest who is celibate?


13 posted on 03/20/2011 7:19:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: richmwill

Ted Haggard, Eddie Long, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and that’s just what I can remember in my lifetime. It’s silly to think that marriage prevents immorality.


14 posted on 03/20/2011 7:20:46 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Being Catholic, I don’t care if a Pastor of a Protestant church is single or not. And I don’t think being single means you can’t relate to certain people or situations, and I don’t believe being single makes you more likely to be a child molester as many perverts marry just to cover up their true self.

But I do have an Aunt that says her church prefers their Pastors to be married because usually the spouse takes a big role in the church and organizes church groups, teaches Sunday school, etc. She even says years ago their Pastor wasn’t so great but his wife was wonderful and held bake sales for the church where she baked everything herself and she was a professional pastry chef. Hey, whatever fills the pews!!


15 posted on 03/20/2011 7:26:12 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Ditto, that.


16 posted on 03/20/2011 7:28:43 PM PDT by rabidralph (http://www.conservativedna.com/)
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To: thackney
Most people want a pastor who can help them with life. They want the pastor to be able to relate to them and being in a romantic relationship is a big part of most people's life.

Bingo.

And that is not in any way a minor detail, nor is it something that can be fully understood without experiencing life as a couple.

Some congregations have other preferences for similar reasons. A church focused on outreach to a large population of addicts may specifically search for someone who was an addict, or grew up in a home with substance abusing parents.

There is a place in the body of Christ for every one, but not every place may be best filled by just any willing applicant. The elders who make a call for a congregation are tasked with finding a proper fit. They may make mistakes, but these sorts of requirements for different congregations are necessary.

17 posted on 03/20/2011 7:30:59 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

The true issue is not if your status is single or married, it’s all about HOW you live it.


18 posted on 03/20/2011 7:31:28 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: rabidralph

I see almost a schizophrenia in churches where they tell the singles to be content in their lot in life, yet they center most or all of their programming around marriage, children and family ministries. Single young women will attend a family-oriented church, but I don’t think as many single men will.


19 posted on 03/20/2011 7:33:54 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

We have a single pastor (associate pastor albeit) that is adored and revered. I am however, in a large metropolitan area, so the needs of many need to be served, and he has found a comfortable niche with our youth. Is your focus perhaps too limited in population size?


20 posted on 03/20/2011 7:36:36 PM PDT by sybilll
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
Almost all pastors were single until the time of the Reformation.

1Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
21 posted on 03/20/2011 7:37:04 PM PDT by arderkrag (Georgia is God's Country.----------In the same way Rush is balance, I am consensus.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

The true issue is not if your status is single or married, it’s all about HOW you live it.

And sometimes when the New Testament is speaking about the concern for someone of a particular status, and where they might be “tempted” in that status, the problem is not what they may do TO SOMEONE ELSE if so tempted, it’s about the danger to their own soul for accepting an erroneous behavior out of that temptation.

In terms of single or married, the risk of being tempted to err lies within the person, not their status; for clearly some may come to be more tempted to err if single and others if married.

G-d KNOWS everyone is unique in their own person-hood.

So again I repeat: The true issue is not if your status is single or married, it’s all about HOW you live it.


22 posted on 03/20/2011 7:40:16 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: sybilll

I’m not sure what area of the country the author is located.


23 posted on 03/20/2011 7:42:31 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

One of the qualifications for a pastor is that he rules his own house well, and has his children in hand (I Timothy 3:4).

Only way this *should* happen is if he is married or widowered. Otherwise, he’s a fornicator of some type, and not qualified for the ministry any more.

Really, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. It really doesn’t *matter* what “1500 years of church history” says about it - that is completely irrelevant. The Bible is what matters, not the erroneous practice of a lot of people who weren’t spiritually discerning.


24 posted on 03/20/2011 7:43:26 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: Wuli
So again I repeat: The true issue is not if your status is single or married, it’s all about HOW you live it.

Nonsense. For a man to fill the role of a pastor, one of the most basic, baseline requirements is that he leads his own family well. That requires him to have a family. If he doesn't, then there's no reason to think he can lead a church (I Tim. 3:5). There are a lot of single men who perhaps have exemplary personal lives - but that does not make them qualified for the pastorate. Seriously, the Scripture is pretty clear on this matter - I don't see what is so hard to figure out about it.

25 posted on 03/20/2011 7:47:05 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Oh, believe me- I agree with you. I’m 36 years old, Christian, and single.


26 posted on 03/20/2011 7:47:20 PM PDT by richmwill
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To: richmwill
I was told by a Pastor friend of mine that years ago Pentecostal churches strongly suggested marriage to their ordained Pastors, because the feeling was that if you were married, you wouldn’t fall into a sinful relationship with any female members of the congregation.

...not that being married has been a deterrent to wandering eyes, although it helps somewhat.

Single pastors, youth pastors more so, have to put up with imaginative/dramatic young women (maybe young men, too) who create problems for the pastor. Finding an assistant postion shouldn't be as difficult, maybe in a university town. IMO, it just depends on the congregation.

27 posted on 03/20/2011 7:49:13 PM PDT by madison10
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

A friend of mine was a Baptist minister and when his wife died they let him go. It was very sad. Imagine losing your wife and your pastorate.


28 posted on 03/20/2011 7:53:05 PM PDT by AUsome Joy
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
I see almost a schizophrenia in churches where they tell the singles to be content in their lot in life, yet they center most or all of their programming around marriage, children and family ministries. Single young women will attend a family-oriented church, but I don’t think as many single men will.

Frankly, I think the fundamental problem here is that so many people have this attitude that the church (which is local, btw) exists to service their particular needs, as if it were a smorgasbord where they get to take what they like and leave the rest.

That's not the way it should be. The church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is HIS church. It exists to honour and exalt HIM, not entertain and meet the "niche needs" of this group, that group, or the other group. Indeed, if taken too far, the demand for "niche groups" within a church is simply division and heresy (the true meaning of that word) since it is dividing the body of Christ into a bunch of different sets of people who each think that the church exists just to cater to their particular station in life. It doesn't. The church exists to fulfill the work of holding up Christ before the world and fulfilling the great commission. People serve the Lord in the church - together AS a church.

29 posted on 03/20/2011 7:53:57 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

So Catholics want you to not be married and Protestants want you to be married?

I am a single 50 year old male and have been divorced for 20 years. My ex had an affair and it ended in divorce. Unfortunately, I feel very uncomfortable going to church as a single man my age. I am a Christian and, unfortunately, I am not attending church right now. I sort of feel dysfunctional not being married and having the average 2.2 kids.

The marriage thing is sort of funny. Peter is considered by Catholics to be their first pope. Peter was married but they don’t allow their priest to be married. If it was okay with Jesus, I believe it should be okay with the Catholic church. Unfortunately, doctrine created by men and what is Biblical is oftened blurred.

I can understand concerns some folks would have about a single pastor. Every church has families that have marital issues. A lot of the married men may feel uncomfortable with their wives meeting a single man. That’s not me but just a reality. I know the Rev. Billy Graham went to great lengths not to be put in uncomfortable predicaments with women.

I feel the need for a good church too and I don’t think I’d have any issues with you being my pastor.

I really do hope you find a church that is great for you.


30 posted on 03/20/2011 7:55:42 PM PDT by boycott (CAL)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
Is it biblical?

Well, his analysis was pretty weak on Biblical texts for his presupposition. Christ was God. Paul was the revelator and (even he says) specially gifted although I am given to understand that being a Pharisee actually deemed marriage a requirement and Paul's assumed spouse probably left or died before/during his conversion. Actually, Paul, in the NT does list marriage as a requirement for several positions in the church including Pastor. Of course, since the author cites tradition and history as the spine of his case, well, what the heck, why does he even ask about Biblical standards?
31 posted on 03/20/2011 7:56:46 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

I want a pastor who is humble before God, and desires to be true to the word of God with all his heart.

I do not want a pastor who has it in his head to do something, and so reworks the word of God to justify his desires. It’s an attitude problem that will lead to big trouble at some point.


32 posted on 03/20/2011 7:58:08 PM PDT by WestwardHo (Whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

So is singleness a gift?


33 posted on 03/20/2011 8:01:26 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
So is singleness a gift?

In some cases, it can be. But it's not a gift that qualifies someone for the pastorate.

34 posted on 03/20/2011 8:02:43 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: yarddog

Our church extended a call to a young single pastor. Within two years, he had married a single young lady in the congregation.


35 posted on 03/20/2011 8:03:33 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: boycott

There are Biblically sound churches with successful singles ministries of long standing. Off the top of my head, the Vineyard Church. They may or may not be your theological cup of tea, they lean somewhat Pentecostal. But, they’re out there. Give it a look. No need to soldier on without fellowship because you’re single.


36 posted on 03/20/2011 8:04:26 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

I Tim. 3:5 — For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?


I don’t believe a man has to be married to know how to rule his own house. Ruling your own house can relate to many things other than just marriage.

Additionally, some of the disciples Jesus chose were single. Therefore, I am okay with it.


37 posted on 03/20/2011 8:04:56 PM PDT by boycott (CAL)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Those comments appear to be speaking as to the qualities of an overseer, or deacon who is married and do not make an injunction against being single; if they did, then Paul himself, as well as many others could NOT have been leaders in the early church.


38 posted on 03/20/2011 8:08:27 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: boycott
I don’t believe a man has to be married to know how to rule his own house. Ruling your own house can relate to many things other than just marriage.

Sorry, but that's ridiculous. Your house is your family, and further v. 5 SPECIFICALLY links this to the raising of children. Given what the Scripture actually says, what exactly is that you imagine these "other things" might be?

Additionally, some of the disciples Jesus chose were single. Therefore, I am okay with it.

Which ones, and how do you know they were single? The only disciple for whose marital status we're actually told is Peter - and he was married. Anything beyond that is just unsubstantiated speculation - a flimsy basis on which to build any doctrine.

39 posted on 03/20/2011 8:09:05 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

If you are a good preacher and communicator, any church that hears you will forget their preference for a married preacher. Paul told Timothy not to let people tell him he was too young to preach. Well, we can’t control what others think or say, but we have the option of keeping our eyes on Christ, doing what he leads us to do, and doing it with all our might. So, ask for the opportunity to deliver a sermon, and to be chosen based on your preaching abilities, not marital status.


40 posted on 03/20/2011 8:09:23 PM PDT by Joyell
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To: Fido969

yes, queers are not leaders nor truly christians...until they repent.


41 posted on 03/20/2011 8:10:01 PM PDT by fabian (" And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo in laughter")
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To: Ciexyz

That sounds pretty much like what happened at our church. The two met and it was like it had been preordained. They appear to be very happy with three happy children and he is a pastor on the rise.

He very well may one day be president of the SBC.


42 posted on 03/20/2011 8:10:52 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: boycott

“A lot of the married men may feel uncomfortable with their wives meeting a single man.”

That could be avoided by having a female staff member present when the pastor counsels women, or only having women counseling other women.


43 posted on 03/20/2011 8:14:22 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: RegulatorCountry

There are Biblically sound churches with successful singles ministries of long standing. Off the top of my head, the Vineyard Church. They may or may not be your theological cup of tea, they lean somewhat Pentecostal. But, they’re out there. Give it a look. No need to soldier on without fellowship because you’re single.


Thanks. I read Christian books and other material all the time but I also know I need to find a church.

I haven’t been in a long time. I used to go regularly. If someone were to invite me, I’d likely go. People used to invite all the time but that doesn’t seem to be the case much anymore. People run half way around the world to preach the gospel but don’t seem to do it so much in their own communities. Maybe it’s just me.

I know I should attend. Hopefully I’ll find a good church home in the not too distant future.


44 posted on 03/20/2011 8:14:38 PM PDT by boycott (CAL)
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To: Wuli
Those comments appear to be speaking as to the qualities of an overseer, or deacon who is married and do not make an injunction against being single;

Uh, no. If a man is single (unless he's widowed, which is a different matter altogether), then he shouldn't have children. The qualifications in I Timothy 3 say what you have to be to even be a pastor or deacon. Sorry, but that seems pretty obvious when you read the Scripture simply for what it is, rather than what you want it to be.

if they did, then Paul himself, as well as many others could NOT have been leaders in the early church.

Paul was an apostle - that's another matter entirely, and doesn't bear on the qualification for someone who is a non-apostolic bishop. Further, you're argument is one in which we should ignore what Scripture actually says, and judge doctrine and practice on the basis of what some people somewhere have done or do. Frankly, it doesn't really matter what "the early church" did. They were just as prone to being wrong when they departed from Scripture as people are today.

45 posted on 03/20/2011 8:14:47 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will believe in abject nonsense.)
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To: WKB

Great point.


46 posted on 03/20/2011 8:15:32 PM PDT by savagesusie
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

That could be avoided by having a female staff member present when the pastor counsels women, or only having women counseling other women.


Very true.

As I mentioned, a single pastor would be fine with me. I am a single man and I believe they would be less judgemental of someone like me.


47 posted on 03/20/2011 8:20:59 PM PDT by boycott (CAL)
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To: WKB

“It seems to me everyone is hung up on something but Jesus was the only one ‘Hung Up’ on a cross.”

Oh, I like that! I’m stealing it. That’s most likely a sin, but I’ll risk it, LOL! :)


48 posted on 03/20/2011 8:24:34 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: boycott

Give one of these a try, I assume you’re in Alabama from your state flag.

http://www.singlesoffaith.com/christian-singles-alabama-groups.htm

Consider it an invitation, lol


49 posted on 03/20/2011 8:31:40 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Why are you ‘looking for a job’?

You are experienced; you are ordained.

If you feed them, the flock will come.

Or is pastoring now ‘just a job’?

Jesus was a carpenter, so I can imagine his advice would be (assuming you do have a call from the Lord), “if you can’t find a pulpit to fill, BUILD one! I will supply the wood and nails; you supply the labor.”


50 posted on 03/20/2011 8:35:54 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (Islam: A Satanically Transmitted Disease spread by unprotected intimate contact with the Koranus)
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