Sabbath and Single Folks

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Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Preface: I want this thread to be general advice direct to single Christians, especially at the college/grad school stage who have sabbatarian convictions. This especially applies to folks living in apartments and even more dorms.

What are some ways singles best use the Lord's Day without breaking the Sabbath? Keep in mind that many people don't have a Sabbatarian church of any stripe in their area.

Roommates - Many young folks lack these resources and have to have roommates who are not Sabbatarian. What would be some advice for those interactions, especially in dorm settings?

Meals - this has less to do with actual nutrition than it does with fellowship.

College/grad students often have tiny apartments that families or even other singles won't go to for a home-cooked meal. This is especially bad in a place like Dallas with an extremely dominant eat-out all the time culture, but applies elsewhere in the country.

Also, if you do go over to someone's house, or even attend church lunch gathering meeting at the church, but where pizza got caterered, should you eat it?

Outside of a church building or rented facility, would there be any public facilities where Christians may gather outside of each other's homes? Coffee shops especially come to mind here.

Fellowship - How much fellowship should we have with other Christians at their homes/apartments, especially those not of Sabbatarian stripes, on the Lord's day where sports (as an example) might be on for the first part but eventually will be turned off and conversation begin?

Most of all, how should we frame and handle this particularly charged conviction with Christian brothers and sisters for whom the very idea of Sabbatarianism is alien?

Of course I'm sure I've missed some things, but I'm trying to get some ideas, especially for those who don't have any strongly-Sabbath following church option in their areas.
 
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Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Great thread idea, Scott. It's easy to say, "spend time in fellowship with each other," but in some of our situations that can be pretty hard. And it just doesn't feel right to go to church, but spend the rest of the day alone, no matter how much private worship it involves. I'm looking forward to reading some of the responses here.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Also, when we don't have a good hospitality option at home/apartment, or where it would be inappropriate (for example - single man and single woman alone in an apt.), how should we address people asking us to grab some coffee after an evening worship service? Just defer to a different day with or without explanation?

This is especially the case when the person in question is a visitor who's not darkened the door of a church in some time that's started going on your or someone else's initiative.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
First, this is an excellent reminder to those of us with families to reach out to the single folks among us. As a single person, Sundays were often my hardest day of the week (outside of worship).

Secondly, we can almost always offer hospitality, if we are creative about it. I had people over to my dorm kitchen and to tiny apartments etc. In nice weather, I also remember getting picnic foods together and going to the park with believing friends -- not for Frisbee-type outings but for food and fellowship.

I'm not sure what to say about non-Sabbatarian room-mates. If they're partying all day Sunday, you may have to find another room-mate. In a college setting, I sometimes hid in the library -- not the best option since people had to be employed to keep it running, but it did give me a quiet place to go.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
I came to Reformed convictions when I was in my fourth year in college. But before this time came, I treated Sunday as if it were another day. So I didn't care whether what I did on any Lord's Day violated God's command. I didn't live in an apartment or a dorm though since my school was just several kilometers away from home.

My observance of the Lord's Day upon coming to Reformed convictions however was not without difficulty. Everyone in my home watched TV and did everything that he or she is supposed to be doing on other days. There is also that possibility of classmates calling me up to talk about lessons, papers and projects. What I did was to stay in my room the entire evening, read Scripture or Christian literature, or have physical rest and sleep.

I am graduate now. But the problem still remains. Everyone in our home is not Reformed. My parents have shown so much discomfort for what I believe. In fact, my mother once asked me several months ago to help my sister (who goes to college) with her homework on the Lord's Day. I refused. My mother knew the reason why I did that, but still managed to say that I was quite "extreme" in my views. So instead of entering into a heated discussion, I just entered my room and slept.

I've been thinking of a question similar to that of the OP for the last few days. And I had thought of several suggestions of dealing with the situation of Christian singles.

If a Christian single (whether a student or not, or whether he lives at home or in an apartment or dorm) is attending a good Reformed church and the Reformed church does not have an afternoon or an evening service, he should speak with the session and suggest that the church start to have services other than the one it has in the morning. That will spare him from a lot of the problems associated with dealing with those who differ with him on the Sabbath-keeping issue. If there is a Lord's Day evening service, the Christian single would arrive home or in his apartment when everyone else is either sleeping or is already preparing for sleep.

But since this is not always the case, the Christian single who lives in an area that has no good Reformed church would do well to find a place nearby where he could stay either with Reformed brethren, or a place where he could start Bible studies with non-Reformed brethren. What that place is will depend on the Christian's discretion. As much as possible, it should not be a place where he would be easily tempted to do activities violating the command to keep the Lord's Day (e.g., a restaurant in a mall, or a computer shop). If he is with non-Reformed brethren, he might take the initiative to start Bible studies and consequently have the opportunity to share the Reformed Faith.

If he is the only Reformed believer (or the only believer) around and there is no good Reformed church near where he resides, staying in a place where he could be alone (until such time that he is now ready to sleep) is in my opinion the best thing he could do. This is not necessarily isolating oneself. It is simply a way of separating oneself from occasions to sin. Again, what that place is will depend on the Christian's discretion. What is he supposed to do while alone? Well, he could bring his Bible or perhaps some Christian books he could read. He might as well bring any gadget with him that would enable him to listen to online or recorded sermons. In that way, he is not only not wasting time. He is also making the best out of the time God has given him by letting his thought be taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Christian singles who are in situations like these should also think of opportunities to share the gospel of grace during the Lord's Day to their unbelieving friends. In other words, they should think of ways in which they could transform otherwise unlwaful conversations on the Lord's Day into ones that would open up ways to that would cause unbelievers to seriously think about their standing before God, and start examining the claims of Christianity in general or the Reformed Faith in particular.
 
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Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
This thread strikes such a chord with me.

This is my honest report of a usual Lord's Day:

Get up, eat breakfast, go to church. After church, say hi to a few folks (rarely getting into any deep and meaningful conversations). Go home to my little place. Eat. Listen to a sermon or read the Bible, or some other Christian work. Nap. Repeat for the evening service.

Last Lord's Day, I was invited to have coffee at the home of one of the younger adults. But never was God, Christ, Bible, theology, etc. mentioned in conversation. My only meaningful conversation was with the 'Youth Pastor' as I walked to the car. And of course, this was cut short because it was getting late and it was time to go home.

One time I was at a home where, after lunch, some of the siblings watched a DVD. I didn't take part and fortunately, one of the folks stayed to talk with me the whole time. It would have been pretty uncomfortable had she not done so.

Contrast this to my previous churches. Spending the whole day with the some or all of the congregation. Dinners with one family or another EVERY Lord's Day. Conversation ALWAYS drifts to spiritual matters (you don't even have to try). You go home on Sunday night because it is getting late and you have to, but would really like to stay longer!

Here are my thoughts regarding some things Scott has asked in the original post:

Picnics with food prepared the night before are good - lots of suitable public places too.
I wouldn't eat pizza bought on the Lord's Day.
I wouldn't go to a coffee shop.

The only other thing I can suggest is that one model appropriate activities (particularly steering conversation to things of the Lord). Invite people to these activities before they invite you to their activities that are not appropriate. One idea I have had is to begin a sermon-discussion group. This might spill over into a regular congregational meal, etc.

This is definitely a challenge for me. It's good to know that there are others who feel the same way. If any of you ever come to Cape Town...
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Christian duty and love toward our brethren requires that we lighten the load on the Sabbath day according to our stations. A Church session ought to be sensitive to this duty and provide venues for folks to gather (for group reading or the singing of Psalms, prayer, etc.) on the Lord's Day apart from commercial enterprise or recreations that are lawful on other days, or other distractions. I would speak with your session about keeping the Church open all day, perhaps members of the session or even the deacons could rotate in this duty. Sure, it is a bit of a hardship for them if they're used to going home and spending time with their families, but it is a mercy to those who have nowhere else to go, and who crave the fellowship of the saints on the Lord's Day.

As was mentioned above, families ought to be the more forward to assist in this duty as well, as it is a merciful work to invite folks over after Church, or in between services for fellowship, group reading, singing Psalms etc.

Spending the day alone on the Sabbath, while circumstances may necessitate such a procedure, is not the most desirable. Keep looking for like-minded folks, ask your session for help, and if you must, bring a sack lunch!
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thanks for asking these questions. Responses below.

What are some ways singles best use the Lord's Day without breaking the Sabbath?
Set a pattern, by God's grace, for yourself whether others seem to follow or not. An example:

Saturday night- pray for God's grace and wisdom to keep the sabbath and prepare for it in advance. Get routine matters that would distract out of the way, and begin to calm your mind.

8a read and meditate on Scripture
830a eat a simple breakfast
930a Sunday School at Church
11a worship at Church
1230n meal

1) eat with other Christians,
2) invite over another single person for a meal with you,
3) take meal and eat with a shut-in or person in distress or person you are witnessing to (try to focus conversation on God and His Word)
4) if you eat by yourself, try to get food you really enjoy Saturday night and have it ready so all you have to do is heat it up

130p nap or quiet time

4p read Bible sequentially through about one hour either alone, invite roommate or a shut-in (be available to perform a work of mercy if you need to pick them up or go to them)
close in prayer
sing a psalm or hymn
5p simple evening meal
6p evening Church worship or Bible class
830p prayer time as you prepare for sleep




Keep in mind that many people don't have a Sabbatarian church of any stripe in their area.

Roommates - Many young folks lack these resources and have to have roommates who are not Sabbatarian. What would be some advice for those interactions, especially in dorm settings?

Share with them in advance your ordinary Lord's Day pattern. Explain you understand not everyone does this, but they are invited to join you (for Sunday School, church, afternoon Bible reading, etc.) Also, I would not hesitate to express desire to have a quiet time so you can nap or meditate. Explain it is your only opportunity to rest during the busy week.

(What I have found is that those who have no interest simply are gone or avoid me during the quiet time). I also want to be a "good neighbor" so, look for an opportunity to "give them some space" on a non sabbath day, if their pattern desires it.



Meals - this has less to do with actual nutrition than it does with fellowship.

College/grad students often have tiny apartments that families or even other singles won't go to for a home-cooked meal. This is especially bad in a place like Dallas with an extremely dominant eat-out all the time culture, but applies elsewhere in the country.

Also, if you do go over to someone's house, or even attend church lunch gathering meeting at the church, but where pizza got caterered, should you eat it?
If you have conviction about this, don't go. (cf Romans 14:1-7)

However, I would encourage you to go and pray hard that you have the grace to set your thoughts, words and action on God and His Word and that you will try to steer conversation that way, e.g. "I've been thinking about the sermon this morning... or about amillennialism... or how God saves us..."



Outside of a church building or rented facility, would there be any public facilities where Christians may gather outside of each other's homes? Coffee shops especially come to mind here.

If you pray and steel your mind toward God and try to focus on talk about Him, His ways, and His Word, I think you can go about anywhere (this is only my opinion, take that for what it is worth).

Fellowship - How much fellowship should we have with other Christians at their homes/apartments, especially those not of Sabbatarian stripes, on the Lord's day where sports (as an example) might be on for the first part but eventually will be turned off and conversation begin?

It's not necessary to only fellowship with those who, by God's grace try to obey the fourth commandment (far less understand it). But I would not ordinarily intentionally place myself in an atmosphere that is dominated or focused on sports, entertainment, worldly conversation, etc. If you find yourself in such a situation through no fault of your own, don't waste time feeling guilty, pray for mercy. God many give you some amazing entrees to people.

Most of all, how should we frame and handle this particularly charged conviction with Christian brothers and sisters for whom the very idea of Sabbatarianism is alien?

Gently engage them in the ordinary course of things. Remember, they have the same God who will work repentance and mercy in their lives, too. Consider it a badge of honor if you are the only one trying to keep the sabbath. You will be blessed here, and receive reward in Heaven. If you suffer a little inconvenience for obedience, rejoice!

Of course I'm sure I've missed some things, but I'm trying to get some ideas, especially for those who don't have any strongly-Sabbath following church option in their areas.

Always be ready to do works or mercy and don't burden yourself with guilt if a work of "necessity" comes up. Sometimes circumstances will require you do things on the sabbath that you would not ordinarily do that day. Remember, God graciously provided us mercy in the fourth commandment too, so if something comes up, pray quickly for an alternative if there is time, but then do it without hesitation or guilt- and rejoice in the mercy of our God!
 
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Timothy William

Puritan Board Junior
Unfortunately, there are some churches which don't really have much of an idea about single people, and how they should fit into the church as a whole. Especially once one is no longer at University, or living with parents or other young people, it can be hard to fit in when all the others in your average and married, usually with children. For some, the Sabbath has changed from being a Holy Day, some of which is spent with one's family, into Family Day, an hour of which is spent with one's family at church.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Unfortunately, there are some churches which don't really have much of an idea about single people, and how they should fit into the church as a whole. Especially once one is no longer at University, or living with parents or other young people, it can be hard to fit in when all the others in your average and married, usually with children. For some, the Sabbath has changed from being a Holy Day, some of which is spent with one's family, into Family Day, an hour of which is spent with one's family at church.

I remember having these thoughts myself (e.g. "People don't understand what a big deal it is for a single person to have someone invite them over to have a meal, or participate with them as a family.") But when I did find myself thinking that, I tried, by God's grace, to catch myself and ask God to help me serve the way I was right then.

God made you and gives you a station in life at different times of life for His purposes. We need to cultivate a way of being grateful to God for that, and look for ways to glorify Him in that, not lament His provision.

One time, in what turned out to be a church transition time, God sent me an 80 year old lady who loved the Lord and wanted Christian fellowship. She was fed up with the empty liberalism of the church but we both continued attending and serving. We got together for prayer, "religious talk" and Bible discussion. An 80 year old and a 19 year old. It was such a blessing.

Find a needy person, someone in distress and serve them on the Lord's Day. Give them a ride to church, make a meal for them, do an hour Bible study with them. This will ameliorate loneliness, and you will be blessed for it.
 

Timothy William

Puritan Board Junior
Scott - wise words.
One change in perspective which I have recently found helpful is to stop seeing myself as temporarily single, as though I was in a situation which I was struggling to get out of, and view it as a circumstance which I have deliberately chosen and which has certain advantages and opportunities. This increases the motivation to seek out more current opportunities. However it doesn't always make lack of understanding from others much easier - especially when others assume that we must desire to join the ranks of the happily married.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott - wise words.
One change in perspective which I have recently found helpful is to stop seeing myself as temporarily single, as though I was in a situation which I was struggling to get out of, and view it as a circumstance which I have deliberately chosen and which has certain advantages and opportunities. This increases the motivation to seek out more current opportunities. However it doesn't always make lack of understanding from others much easier - especially when others assume that we must desire to join the ranks of the happily married.

Tim, I have actually heard married people complain about their state, lamenting that they did not have the freedom they had when they were single. Marriage while a great blessing and the ordinary, most common route is not the only one- some are called to remain single and we can think of many faithful examples (perhaps even the Apostle Paul).

It's easy to say, hard to do, but as ungrateful, disobedient, sinners we have a built-in tendency to be discontent with God's provision at every stage and in every circumstances. This is something, by God's grace, we must at every stage, ask for faith and repentance of. I sense you are understanding that.

Philippians 4

4Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

5Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Someone, despite the insensitivity and self-focus of others, ask God for grace to go out and serve other people similarly situated- for His Honor and His Glory!

Blessings.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Someone mentioned public parks as a good public meeting place that doesn't require others to work on the Lord's Day.

Would there be any indoor equivalent for cold months or bad weather?
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
One thing I've enjoyed greatly, and concerning which you might talk to the elders, is sometimes just having a few people stay at the church building between services. If there are several of you who live alone, and you're not capable of hosting at your place (or are not invited to another's), a few of us have frequently just stayed at the church, passed the time in conversation and fellowship, and often prepared a small, light meal in the kitchen. Those have been some of my most edifying sabbaths.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
One thing I've enjoyed greatly, and concerning which you might talk to the elders, is sometimes just having a few people stay at the church building between services. If there are several of you who live alone, and you're not capable of hosting at your place (or are not invited to another's), a few of us have frequently just stayed at the church, passed the time in conversation and fellowship, and often prepared a small, light meal in the kitchen. Those have been some of my most edifying sabbaths.
Now that's a great idea!

Any thoughts/recommendations when churches lack their own properties?
 
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