Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Membership community - a place of belonging!

“It’s the only place open that time of night,” my friend said, imploring I understood his dilemma. And in fact, I did. Though not in his exact shoes, I knew that loneliness and the need to connect with others is no respecter of time, whether day or night.

“The doors of churches are closed and locked then, and no one is there,” he went on. “But the bar is open and people are there I can talk to or just be with.”

I truly did understand. But I also worried about his tendency to drink too much, and wished he could find  friends who would encourage him in his newly rediscovered walk with Christ.

Cheers - where everyone knows your nameIt was the early 1990s, and the television show Cheers with its opening theme song, Where Everyone Knows Your Name, was still in its heydey. Its setting in a friendly bar where staff and customers interacted with familiarity day after day presented a place of knowing and belonging that most everyone longs for. It’s no wonder Cheers was a popular show for more than a decade, and that reruns are still enjoyed.

I knew my friend was right. Somehow bars had gotten it right, and most churches hadn’t figured it out: it isn’t just Sunday mornings when people needed connection with others. It is day in and day out, night and day.

It was then that my dream of a coffee shop was born – a place that would be open until the wee hours of the the morning just like the local bar, giving an alternate choice for connecting with others.

I never did open a coffee shop. But I did start a website with a forum, and named it Purposeful Singleness. For many years people from around the world would visit the site at all hours of the day or night, reading and connecting with what others had written since they had last visited, and contributing their own thoughts for the next visitors to be encouraged by or to offer their encouragement.

It wasn’t ideal. Nothing is. But we learn from past experiences and discover ways of improving on them for next time. Many good things happened on that old-style discussion board. Most people were real and honest and caring. But many hid behind pseudonyms and some behind more than one, creating havoc. And then there were those who had discovered the ideal place to bully others: online, where no one knows their name.

After awhile moderating the board became overwhelming, even with help, especially as other events in my life also became time-consuming. And then there came a time where caring for family members took precedence over moderating a discussion board, and it was shut down.

Coffee shop open 24 hours a dayBut the need for single Christians around the world to have connection with others, especially those with similar life experiences, is still just as real as it was then. It’s impossible to have a coffee house where we can all gather in person. But we can have an online community. And this time it will be with better foresight and perimeters to provide freedom to be our true real selves, and to develop real relationships without fear of bullies hiding cowardly behind false identities. It will be a place we can come and go according to our own schedules, and be a place of knowing and belonging, because “everyone knows your name.”

A few have asked in the comments of the membership community survey the reason for charging to be part of the community, and that’s a reasonable question. There are multiple reasons. Here are a few of them:

  1.  The costs for operating such a community need to be covered, which is something I was not realistic about before, and is the only sustainable way of operating and growing such a community.
  2. It will provide funds to hold possible future in-person events, such as conferences or retreats, though there may be additional fees to cover the extra costs for those.
  3. It will help cover costs for producing content for the community, such as videos, workshops, Bible studies, and more.
  4. It is the most accurate way to insure members are operating under their true identities and not hiding behind a pseudonym or even multiple pseudonyms.

Where Everyone Knows Your [First] Name

 I asked in the survey what your preferences are for usernames. The options were 1) use real first names, 2) use real first and last names, or 3) post anonymously. The majority voted for using real first names, and I think that is the safest way to interact, while still using our real names as we develop real friendships with each other.

Not Another Matchmaking Site

As before, this new community forum will not be a dating site or matchmaking endeavor. It will be a place to make friends and enjoy community where we can “be there” for each other. Could romantic relationships develop naturally out of the community? Perhaps, and that’s fine if they do. But that’s not the goal or the purpose of the PS Membership Community.

Name That Community!

Speaking of “Membership Community” — that’s such a boring, generic name! I’m not great at naming things. I need your help to come up with a better name. Make your suggestions in the comments section below, or use the contact form to let me know! Thanks for your help!

Grand Opening

 So when will the doors of this where-everyone-knows-your-name community open? My best answer: as soon as feasibly possible! I’m working hard at it, but as I’ve discovered my life purpose I’ve also come to realize why it takes me so long to do technical things: it’s not the best I was designed and created to do! But I do already have website development skills under my belt, and until I can afford to hire those tasks out to those God created to excel at such things, I ask for your patience as I wrangle the technology to create a community of familiarity and belonging that I trust we’ll all come to love!

Don’t forget to let me know your suggestion for a name for our Membership Community! I would also love to hear your thoughts on finding community, whether in person or online. Has that been easy or difficult for you, especially as a Christian single?

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God is Always Awake

Sleep in peace. God is awake.

Sleep in peace. God is awake.

Do you ever lay awake at night because of thoughts that refuse to quiet down? Do you often wish you had someone to talk to at those times? Are those the times when you feel most alone?

I could say “yes” to all three of those questions, especially during specific periods in my life.

In last week’s post, Alleviating Loneliness – Membership Community for SinglesI introduced the possibility of starting a membership community here on the Purposeful Singleness website. You can read more about it in that post if you haven’t already, and be sure to take the survey embedded in that post or on the sidebar of any page on the site.

The response to the survey so far is an overwhelming “yes,” so I am moving forward in wrangling with the technology to make it happen! I’m excited to open the doors as soon as possible, so pray for me that I have a clear sense of how to pull it all together to make it a place where we can gather to develop real friendships and offer encouragement in real life situations.

One of the great aspects of an online community is that it can be available night or day and in every time zone and spot on earth where internet access is available! We are blessed to live in such a time, and it is my intent to implement the positive aspects of technology to connect with others and serve the Lord in ways not possible before this era we live in now.

But even more wonderful than the technology available to us in this modern era, is Someone who is available to us night and day and in every time zone and spot on the earth, whether internet is available or not! And He’s been available to every person from the beginning of time. I’m so grateful that God is always present, listening, talking, and giving His peace when the rest of my world feels upside down.

As a young adult attending Bible college, I owned a poster that I tacked to the wall above my bed in every dorm room I inhabited. “Sleep in peace, God is awake” was its message, and one I took to heart many times, and still do! I later discovered those words are an excerpt from a longer quote by Victor Hugo, a French writer who lived in the 1800s:

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” -Victor Hugo

My hope and prayer is that our Purposeful Singleness Membership Community that will be open and available 24/7 will be a huge blessing to all who choose to take advantage of it. But it will never be a substitute for committing our every care to the Lord, talking it over with Him, and then going to sleep in peace because we know He is awake keeping watch over all!

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Alleviating Loneliness – Membership Community for Singles

Membership Community for Singles SurveyWould you be interested in a Membership Community on the Purposeful Singleness website? The Community would be a membership area containing a members-only forum as well as exclusive content and possible future in-person events made available only to members.

The idea would be to foster a safe community where deeper friendships can form. Please note this would not be intended as a matchmaking endeavor, but rather a place for forming friendships and deeper connections with others.

A monthly or annual fee would be charged to cover the additional costs for running a membership area.

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Singleness – Burden or Blessing?

When the Good Shepherd speaks to His own ...

Singleness – is it a burden or a blessing?

Each of us who are single would likely give a different answer to that question depending on when we were asked. And both answers would be correct. Singleness, like marriage (and almost every other aspect of life), has its burdens and its blessings.

When I feel my singleness is a burden it’s often because I’m not seeing it from God’s perspective and design. At other times it’s because I haven’t been connected enough with others and it’s time to pick up the phone and call a close friend or plan for interaction with others.

In general, I’ve found that …

Singleness is a BURDEN when I:

  • focus on what I don’t have.
  • squander my freedom on self-pity.
  • view being single as being “less than.”
  • complain about my life.
  • think my life doesn’t have purpose.
  • think I’m a failure.
  • spend too much time isolated from others.
  • don’t invest enough time in my closest relationships.
  • am not focusing on how all-satisfying my relationship is with Jesus.

Singleness is a BLESSING when I:

  • focus on the abundance I have!
  • use my freedom to relate to God without distraction.
  • view my singleness as being a valuable asset to me, to others, and to the Body of Christ.
  • express gratitude about my life and all I’ve been given.
  • know and live God’s unique purpose for which He created me!
  • realize how much God has accomplished through me!
  • spend time relating to others.
  • invest in my closest relationships.
  • grow in my relationship with Jesus and in experiencing how all-satisfying He truly is!

Perspective is the Key

Perspective is an amazing thing! Many times in my life the “blues” have lifted simply because my perspective changed, even though nothing else in my life changed a bit. I have learned that the enemy of my soul loves nothing better than to get me to view my life negatively rather than positively. Negative feelings will bring my pursuit of life and purpose to a grinding halt quicker than anything, and prevents me from living a joyful life to the full!

There’s a quote by Roy Lessin I have gone to again and again over the years to remind me when my perspective isn’t coming from God and needs adjusting:

“When the Good Shepherd speaks to His own, He never uses words of despair, hopelessness, frustration, defeat, discouragement, fear, confusion, or failure. Instead, He gives His sheep words of hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph, and love.”  —Roy Lessin

When I am feeling in despair, hopeless, frustrated, defeated, discouraged, fearful, confused, or that I’m a failure – I know my perspective is not God’s. Even if I need correction in my life, His correction always comes with hope, never with despair. Truth – which is God’s perspective – always brings freedom, as Jesus said in John 8:32: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus also said that Satan seeks “to steal and to kill and to destroy,” but that Jesus came so that we “may have life and have it in abundance.” Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy our joy and peace. He is the father of lies and makes his perspective appear to be truth so we’ll take it to heart. But when we do, we end up with negativity that sends us on a downward spiral. When we change our perspective to God’s, we are freed from that negativity and instead experience hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph, and love!

How are you viewing your life, whether it is being single or some other aspect? Is it a positive view or a negative view? What helps you the most to change a negative perspective into a positive one, or to change a burden into a blessing?

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