Do you and your boyfriend/girlfriend belong to a local church? If so, how involved are you in your church? How important is it to you that you and your future spouse attend church? How important is it to you that your future children are raised in church? Why all these questions?
All too often, young people dream of going to church with their families some day, but they don’t think it is important to become involved in their local churches while they are single and carefree. Perhaps school, work, or late nights out with their boyfriend/girlfriend dissuades a lot of people from getting up on Sundays to go to church, but I’m willing to bet that the majority of people who don’t attend church regularly as singles will not attend church once they are married.
Marriage is often viewed as a primary goal in a single person’s life. You may think, “Once I’m married, I will… <insert phrase here>.” But, I have found from personal experience that you are the same person with the same habits before and after marriage. What marriage does is tend to bring out those character traits you would rather keep hidden (e.g., selfishness, pride, stubbornness, etc.). In other words, if you are not in the practice of attending church regularly now, don’t expect to wake up on Sunday morning when you are newly married dying to go to church. You may go for the first few Sundays as an excited new married couple, but if your heart is not right with God, you won’t keep it up for long. Wanting to be in God’s house to worship Him and fellowship with His people is a sign of your desire to serve Him and has nothing to do with whether or not you are married.
If you are single and not interested in worshipping in a local church, it’s time to do some soul searching. Have you confessed your sins to God? Have you received Him as your Lord and Savior? (If you have, then you are committing to follow His commands – Him as your Lord, you as one of His subjects in His kingdom). One of the signs that someone is God’s child is his or her desire to worship Him and fellowship with His people.
Church, like anywhere else on Earth, is full of imperfect people. Although God sent His Son to die so that we could be saved from His wrath, those of us who have received His gift of eternal life are still imperfect.
Maybe you have been hurt in church before by some of His imperfect children (or perhaps by someone who simply claims to be a believer, but is not according to the Bible’s tests of what marks a true believer). If you have been turned off to God’s house because of the hurtful comments or actions of others, I would encourage you to return.
First, get your heart right with God – because, in the end that is all that matters. Then, ask Him to help you forgive those people and take a step of faith back to His house. You may have to visit several churches before you find the one you are supposed to attend. Ask God to lead and guide you.
Second, and sadly, there are churches out there that are not faithfully preaching the Word of God. Eric and I don’t have any personal quarrels with any particular Christian denomination; however, we just want you to be careful that what the pastor is saying truly lines up with the Word of God – in context. To know this, you yourself will have to saturate your mind in the Word of God – to know if what the minister is saying – again, in context – is truth. It is popular for preachers to take a verse here and there and jump around, but if your pastor is not preaching expositionally (that is, going through the Bible verse by verse), I encourage you to read the surrounding passages to see if the application the pastor made really does apply in that context. If you find that it does not several times, set up a meeting with your pastor to discuss the issue. And if he is defensive or unwilling to listen, it may be a good time to find another church – if you’re placing yourself under the pastor’s spiritual leadership, you want to make sure he is leading you well and into truth.
One of the para-church ministries that we like is 9 Marks Ministries. They have established nine marks, or standards, that biblical, healthy churches will keep. If they claim to do so, then they can add their church name to their nationwide church listing. The listing is not denominationally oriented – it is only based on the affirmation of the nine marks. 9 Marks Ministries, nor Eric and I at PreEngaged, endorse all of the churches on the 9 Marks list since we can’t possibly know the quality of each one; but if you are searching for a good church and do not know where to go, this resource may be a very good place to start in looking for a church (the church we go to is also on the list). Also, not all of the churches on that list have the same style, so check out the website of the church you are considering and/or visit on a Sunday to see what that specific church is really like. If you find a match, great. If not, keep looking! It is very important that you attend a church that faithfully preaches the Word of God and shows love to each other and the community. Your choice of church will impact your social circles, friendships, activities, and other life-impacting decisions – so choose wisely.
If you go through the seasons of singleness, dating, and engagement assembling with other believers, you can expect to continue the journey once you are married (assuming you marry someone who has also been faithfully attending church through all the different seasons in his or her life). It is such a blessing to have a church body that supports, encourages, teaches, and admonishes you during your journey from singleness to marriage.
First and foremost, prioritize your relationship with Jesus at the top of your list. Then, spend time worshipping and fellowshipping with a group of like-minded people in a Biblically-centered local church. Though there are good sermons that can be found online from some amazing pastors (live or on replay), nothing replaces the benefits of physical, local community when you gather together and faithfully assemble yourselves.
Do you and your boyfriend/girlfriend faithfully attend church? Are you excited to go? If not, why?