Download a PDF from the city here: First Love SG Guide.
First Love – Week 1:
Leaders, get the videos for the series at your campus as well. Here is the video for week 1:
As a companion to the sermon series and small group study from Summit Church entitled “First Love,” TSI provides some additional study materials. These will be helpful to small groups or individuals looking to drill down on a few of the topics that will undoubtedly arise as we take a hard look at our relationships.Week one of the First Love study covers an important topic that churches need to address publicly: The values of singleness and the value of marriage in the church
The Role of Singleness in the Church
1 Corinthians 7 shows that both stages of life are gifts to an individual Christian, especially when lived in light of the Gospel. This is one of the more famous passages on singleness in marriage, but it is by no means the only place in Scripture that affirms the single life. For a great study on the biblical theology of singleness, check out this gem by Barry Danylak: Redeeming Singleness
Barry was a friend of mine as we studied Biblical Exegesis together at Wheaton. He went on to get a PhD and spent some time researching this topic at Tyndale House in Cambridge England. I … well, I moved to Durham, North Carolina. Barry was successful in the corporate world before sensing that God was leading him into ministry. He draws from a wealth of knowledge and life experience as a single man to bolster this study. The book review (by Justin Taylor) and forward (by John Piper) linked above share quotes that show off Barry’s expertise:
Therefore, the presence of single people in the church not only “attests the sufficiency of Christ for the reception of God’s covenantal blessings in the new covenant,” but also reminds us “that the spiritual age has already been inaugurated in Christ and awaits imminent consummation.”
Barry elevates but does not absolutize the calling of the single life. It’s greatness lies in this: “It is a visible reminder that the kingdom of God points to a reality which stands beyond worldly preoccupations of marriage, family and career.” Indeed.
The visibility of Singles
Church growth strategies stress the need for children’s ministry and family-oriented programs in order to ensure the numerical advancement of a church. This emphasis can lead to an unfortunate by-product in the culture of the North American church – the lack of visibility of singles. However, 47% of American adults (over the age of 18) are single. Church, that is much more than just your college waiting-to-be-married population. In order to reflect the demographics of the culture, a church should be reaching a fair number of single adults. Click below for the reflections of a head pastor who was single for the first decade plus of his ministry. He busts some unhelpful myths in church culture today: The Bachelor Pastor
The Rich Single Life
Gary Thomas, as only he can, has written a complement to his famous “Sacred Marriage” entitled “The Sacred Search.” The value of Gary’s book is that he allows a biblically sound and experienced understanding of marriage inform your approach to dating. Far from kissing dating goodbye, “The Sacred Search” refocuses a single person on what is important in dating and searching for a life-partner.
On a similar note, Summit’s Counseling Pastor, Brad Hambrick, also recommends “The Rich Single Life” by Andrew Farmer, and “Single and Lonely” by Jayne Clark. Both are short resources that would be ideal for a small group to study together.
But these resources aren’t just for singles. If the church is going be a diverse body that reflects the demographics of its neighborhoods, then church leadership will need to be increasingly attentive to the life-stage of single adults. Still looking for more on the topic? As always, The Gospel Coalition has some sound theology: Singleness with Purpose
For those of you actively seeking marriage, Summit’s Counseling Pastor Brad Hambrick, busts the myth of compatibility in this article.
Weekly Challenges for week 1
1. For singles- take a few minutes to dream, pray, and think. What are 5 things that you are uniquely able to accomplish in your current stage of life.
2. For married couples- plan a date night to go out to dinner. Prepare beforehand to each talk about this topic: What are 5 things about your spouse that have made your life better in marriage? This should lend meaning and depth to your date this week.
First Love – Week 2:
The sermon this weekend will cover one of the keys to success in relationships that you don’t hear much about outside of church: submission. Pastor Greear will reveal a profound question that will help you unlock power and joy in your relationships. The study guide focuses on God’s design for men and women and how they are suitable companions for one another. Here is a PDF of the small group guide.
And here is the video for week 2 (do not miss this one, it is a powerful story!):
Look no further than to Summit’s Pastor of Counseling, Brad Hambrick, for the very best content and resources on “creating a gospel-centered marriage.” There is a much larger body of work that you can find at bradhambrick.com, but below are the resources on that page that are particularly relevant to “Learning to Love.”
Video 3 of Brad Hambrick’s marriage series will hone in on the covenantal aspect of marriage. Nothing allows love to sustain and grow better than commitment. If you have life-long commitment as your baseline, then you can begin to enjoy things about your spouse or friend that make you different (but maybe made you crazy along the way). Here is an exercise that can help. Brad also deconstructs the myth of compatibility that can hinder joy in marriages and frustrate a single person’s search for a spouse.
Three book recommendations that the Preparing for Marriage ministry at our church recommends to couples include: Marriage Matters by Winston Smith, Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey, and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. These books will be helpful to anyone thinking about marriage, whether you are recently engaged or you’ve been married for decades. To learn more about Summit’s Preparing for Marriage ministry, click here.
1. For married couples, do the fresh eyes exercise described in Brad’s blog. It will be worth it!
2. For singles, consider the “one big question” that Pastor J.D. asks during the sermon: “What can I do to serve you.” Pray about who in your life you want to ask that question to, and then do it for the better part of the week this week.