We are joined again by guest Matt Chandler. He’s the lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and the author of the new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption.
Question #4: Matt, what can members of local churches practically do to help godly marriages happen, instead of just telling men to “man up and get your life together” and telling women to “stop waiting around and be active in their singleness?” What role should community play in deciding whom and when to marry? Any advice for inviting others into a relationship to that end?
I just love this question because I am just such a big believer in what God has called the covenant community of his people to be in a local context.
I think the way that local churches can practically help godly marriages happen, outside of telling men to man up, because I do think there is a space for that and for telling single women in particular to stop waiting around to be active in your single life. So I don’t want to say that there aren’t places for that, because there most definitely is.
But instead of just doing that, I think what we want to do is work really hard in our churches to create a culture of discipleship, a culture in which the norm is, the air we breathe is, that older men are serious about seeking out younger men to train them — not just train them in the Bible, but really train them in what it looks like to apply the Scriptures to their lives. What does it look like to serve, love, and encourage your wife? What does it look like to romance her? What does it look like to be a man of God in relation to your wife?
And so we try to do this personally by having single men into our home. And so when I have them over Lauren will almost always cook the meal. I will help set the table and then afterward that young man gets to help me do the dishes. And that is just my way of showing one way that I serve my wife. And then while we do dishes, I tend to just talk about the ways that I try to make space for Lauren’s own gifts. So this is an intentional, organic kind of culture of discipleship that I hope is woven into the life of the Village.
On top of that my hope would be that young men would seek out older men. And I have told them before to hound older men. It is not just asking to go through a book together. It is more like: Can I get in your space? Whatever you normally do, can I just come and join you in that? Can I come have dinner at your house and just let me sit there, watch you interact with your family, and let me ask questions? We need to build those types of friendships.
The appeal of youthfulness in churches is just so heavy and so celebrated, and yet I have found that really without a good mix of generations, you are going to get lopsided and silly. And the worst possible thing imaginable in my mind is a bunch of 24-year-olds sitting around talking about life. So if I can get that 24-year-old single with a 38-year-old married man, then I have got real high hopes for how that 24-year-old will see marriage, understand marriage, and desire marriage. So that is the kind of training, discipleship culture.
Celebrate Redeemed Singleness
But then on top of that, I think what you celebrate and how you celebrate is important, and so we want to celebrate marriages at the Village Church, and I want to celebrate women and men who have given themselves over to make disciples, whether they are married or not. And so in the “Beautiful Design” series that I finished this fall, I wanted to constantly come back to single women and single men who have given themselves over to make disciples, and celebrate the fact that they had done that.
And so more than me saying, “Hey, get over your singleness,” it is me celebrating the fact that there are those not sitting around on Valentine’s Day wanting to be taken out for a movie, but rather there are those who are having their lives wrung out in the making of disciples for their own joy and own fulfillment of heart, while simultaneously probably still desiring marriage, desiring a spouse, but not just kind of sitting on their hands until they get one.