Take a Risk and Extend an Invitation!

Guest blog by:

Jennifer Freudenburg, Project Manager

Concordia Center for the Family, Ann Arbor, MI

                                         

Recently, my husband and I had some awesome young women over for dinner to our home.  What incredible fun we had!  We talked and laughed and shared.  We explored some of the things that were difficult being “single” and being “new” to a place.  If you are not in the state of singleness right now, you may have forgotten what it was like.  How does it feel walking into a new church alone?  How hard is it to faithfully sustain the personal faith walk if you don’t have anyone to share, encourage and uplift you?  How do you meet people?  How do you explore the highlights of the area in which you live – and by yourself?  Are you valued as a single person without a family?  Who can be your advocate when you are new, single and not steeped in the “system?” And what if you are a single parent with children?  Who wants to invite you and your children for dinner? 

One of the Concordia Center for the Family’s Prayer Partners sent me a prayer request this past month, and she asked that we pray for two specific women.  One was a single mother of three children.  Her request was that the Holy Spirit creates a desire in her heart to worship.  The other was a prayer of thanksgiving for leading a woman to their new member’s class.  Then she asked, “Could we please pray for those single moms and dads who do not yet know Jesus?”  Then I received a prayer request from another Prayer Partner who is single and going through tests for multiple sclerosis (MS). 

My single mother will NEVER go out to a restaurant to eat by herself.  I find it intimidating to do that also, so I have identified a few restaurants where I feel reasonably comfortable being alone when my husband is out of town.  When I’m alone and I don’t have anyone to converse with, I feel that I should hurry up and eat because I may be taking a table where they could seat more people.  Crazy, huh?

I once worked with a man who had six children, and two of them had autism.  His comment to me was, “People don’t invite our family over for dinner.”  I’ve also talked with singles who have said pretty much the same thing, “I don’t get invited over to people’s houses for dinner.”  What is the message?  Could it be: I wouldn’t know what to say; what if the children messed up my house: would the single person feel uncomfortable being with us as a couple? 

We sat behind a mother with her three children in church recently.  Her husband was out of town and she was trying her best to keep her children engaged and quiet.  After the service, she turned to my husband and me and said, “I’m sorry, my husband is out of town and I was trying my best by myself.”  I was a little stunned that she said this, because we were behind them thinking, “Yay for this mom – she has her children in church, and they have their children’s Bibles they are paging through, and they are engaging in worship.”  Isn’t church a practice ground for taking the hymns and prayers and liturgy back home?  If that is so, then church WILL be a little messy.  That is just part of what church is all about! 

So, as a church family, why don’t we step out of our comfort zone a little and approach someone who we don’t know, someone who is alone, or a single parent with children and befriend and embrace them, and accept that we all make up God’s church.  I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone!

In most churches today, there are greeters at the entrance doors, so I wonder if it doesn’t “relieve” us of introducing ourselves to people – because they got welcomed at the door.  A Family Friendly Church embraces and includes people in all steps and stages of life.   

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