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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Sometimes We Need a Little Help

A helping hand

This blog post is written by Shari Baer, a life coach who is offering coaching to the Purposeful Singleness community. You can read more about her services here.

Someone just recently asked me what I see is the major problem for singles I coach, versus those who are married. While you might think the answer would be loneliness, I’ve found more of the married people I coach to be truly lonely than many of the singles. As Fern has mentioned in her articles, loneliness is often a result of the lack of knowing one’s purpose and living their purpose rather than the lack of a spouse.

The most common concern of the singles I coach is feeling stuck and at a loss about how to move forward. Even when they know their purpose, there are times they just need someone to help them figure out their next step – no matter how little or big that step may be. Having a coach come alongside and ask pointed and direct questions helps them figure out their next step.

A coach’s role is not to give answers, but simply to ask the questions which help a person figure out their best next step. It is much more powerful when a person figures out their own solution rather than having someone advise them on their next step. When it is the individual’s idea, they take ownership because deep down they really do know what works best for them. Other people’s ideas, which may have worked in their lives, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. A coach helps each person discover what works best for them.

The Lord has given each of us unique, incredible, and often amazing ways of figuring out our next steps. Coaching singles is a true joy for me. It is so fun to see that light bulb come on in their “aha” moment when they discover that deep down they had the solution. What a great feeling to be moving again in a positive and life-giving direction!

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Finding Your Life Purpose

Finding Your Purpose

Finding Your Purpose

Since the very beginnings of the Purposeful Singleness website my intent has been to encourage us to live purposefully and not just bide our time for what some might think is the main event – marriage.

The reality is that the main event is God’s purpose for us, and it is always in the present, no matter our marital status. In fact, I’m certain that if you’re reading this and you’re not married, singleness is an essential part of the stage God has strategically designed for you to best fulfill the purpose He has for you right now.

If you’re anything like me, though, you often wonder what your purpose is. And if you do have a sense of what it might be, you wonder how to move forward and live it out. The lack of a partner to take action with, or even to talk things over with, requires a lot of inner energy to move forward – an energy we don’t always feel we have.

Gaining Clarity with a Life Purpose Statement

Perhaps you’ve heard about personal Life Purpose Statements, and you may have already written one. There are numerous resources that take you through the process of writing one and they can all be a little different. Many people get discouraged trying to navigate the process themselves. Or they end up with a Statement that doesn’t get to the heart of God’s purpose for them and they become misguided in their goals. Or, they do manage to write a Statement that reflects who they are, but they don’t know what to do next.

Writing your Purpose Statement

Having an accurate Life Purpose Statement that accurately reflects who God made us to be can be invaluable in finding clarity in our lives. It helps us evaluate our present location, job, relationships, and activities to know whether we are investing our lives in the best possible ways. It can help give us direction when faced with decisions. And in many cases it can also help us recognize how we already are living our purpose and provide invaluable affirmation. Knowing our Life Purpose and experiencing God strategically moving us into that purpose is awesome and faith-building! There’s nothing like realizing God not only knows us in all our complexity, but He has intricately designed and equipped us to fulfill a specific purpose.

The Difference between Life Purpose and Calling or Mission

Purpose. Calling. Mission. These words get thrown around and we don’t always know what they mean or how to differentiate between them.

When God created us He designed us for a unique purpose – one that is different from anyone else who has ever lived or ever will live. It is part of who we are – who He created us to be. Our Life Purpose is something we can fulfill no matter our age or physical ability. As long as we have breath in these earthly bodies, we can be living our purpose. I’ve observed that when people know their life purpose and consciously live it, they experience freedom, fulfillment, and contentment. And that feelings of loneliness, defeat, and discouragement make only fleeting appearances, and usually only when one loses sight of their God-given purpose.

While our purpose has more to do with who we are, our calling or mission has more to do with what we do. Our purpose is lifelong and doesn’t change, from the time we take our first breath until we take our last. A calling or mission is God’s assignment for a specific period of time or to a certain group of people.

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Fern’s Journey

In 1997 I was 33 years old, single, and wanting more out of life. I wanted my life to count for something. And so I followed a blueprint in a book to write my mission statement:

My mission is to connect with those around me, communicate truth that sets them free, and nurture them on to maturity.

The following year I started Purposeful Singleness, which has been one of the ways over the years I’ve lived that mission.

Fast forward to 2014 and I was recovering from several major events in my life that spanned a number of years. There was much to process and I was feeling incredibly stuck with few inner reserves to move forward.

And then God – Who is so incredibly strategic and purposeful in all He does – brought into my life someone who has always been in my life! I know that sounds contradictory, so let me explain. Shari is my first cousin, and while we’d played together as kids and always found ourselves on the same wavelength when we caught up with each other from time to time, our lives didn’t really intersect all that much until more recently.

Shari Baer Life Coach

Shari Baer is a Life Coach who helps individuals discover their God-given purpose, write their own Life Purpose Statement, and helps them work through how to live it out. I’m not sure what compelled her to ask me if I’d be interested in going through her process of writing a Purpose Statement, other than I know God does these things in ways we don’t always recognize until later!

The process of meeting with Shari to write my Life Purpose Statement, and then to continue to meet in the months following so she can coach me as I take steps to live it out, has helped me tremendously to get “unstuck” and move forward into all that God has for me! I so very much want others to experience this, too!

The Life Purpose Statement she helped me write has similarities to the 1997 version, but has an added element that helps me realize God’s purpose for me is for good, not just in using me for good to help others:

My life purpose is to know God as my everything, as I have life-giving connections with others, and discover and share insights and truth that set us free.

After writing my Life Purpose Statement, Shari and I connected by phone regularly. I have a tendency to get stuck in the paralysis of analysis, and Shari’s coaching style of deep listening and asking strategic questions never fails to help me move forward in living my purpose.

What About You?

You may be wondering how you can find your own “Shari” to come alongside you to find and live your purpose. Well, I have good news for you!

Because having an accurate Life Purpose Statement and receiving life coaching to live it out has been so meaningful and helpful to me, this past summer I took the life coach training Shari was offering to those interested in learning to coach others. Since then we have formed a small coaching company called Living Our Purpose to help many others discover and live their life purpose!

Further Benefits to Having a Life coach

Here are a few of the major benefits I’ve observed in having a Life Coach:

Affirmation

Meeting with a Life Coach whether in person or via phone or Skype is an uplifting experience. A good Life Coach listens well and hears what you’re really saying. She never shames you or makes you feel self-consciousness for feeling or thinking a certain way, but gently helps you identify false beliefs that are holding you back. She encourages you to embrace who God made you to be and the life God has given you, helping you pinpoint your strengths and guide you onto the path where you can use them best.

Someone to Help You Process

Meeting with a Life Coach helps to fill that need to have someone to bounce things off of and process decisions and life events with. Especially as singles without spouses to process with, a Life Coach plays an essential role in coming alongside you and helping you through whatever it takes to live a purposeful and fulfilled life.

Help Getting Unstuck

Perhaps you have a good sense what your life purpose is, but for whatever reason don’t know how to move forward. Maybe it’s because you’ve been waiting to have a spouse to do it with you, but realize you need to move ahead with or without one. Perhaps you’ve been through some major life events and are feeling weary. You may have lost a spouse to death or divorce and are feeling lost. You might be feeling stuck in your career or ministry, or in life in general. Whatever it is that is holding you back, a caring and strategic Life Coach can help you identify what it is and know how to move forward.

No, a Life Coach is not God! But she is someone whom God has gifted with the ability to come alongside others to discern God’s voice among all the others, and to encourage you to follow through on what He is calling you to do.

Getting Unstuck

Difference Between Coaching and Counseling

Simply put, coaching is about moving forward into all the plans and purposes God has for your life. Counselors often help us examine our past to help us find healing. Coaches help us look ahead to discover “who” we are and where we are going. Shari and I and the other coaches of Living Our Purpose come alongside individuals to ask purposeful questions and draw out the ideas and dreams the Lord has placed deeply inside their hearts and minds. God is a God of limitless possibilities and it is incredible helping people tap into their potential and purpose.

Still not sure?

People seem to have three main excuses that keep them from discovering their life purpose:

Excuse #1: I don’t have time.

In the time it takes to watch a movie, you could know your unique purpose and have your personal purpose statement in hand. If you have time to watch a movie, you have time to discover your purpose!

Excuse #2: I can’t afford it.

Though there is a fee for discovering your purpose, Shari is making her services available to the Purposeful Singleness community on a name-your-own-fee basis so that it is affordable for everyone.

Excuse #3: I’m afraid.

Fear comes from Satan, the thief who never wants you to live your purpose because he knows how dangerous you will be to his kingdom if you do, and how beneficial you will be in furthering God’s Kingdom. Give your fears and excuses to Jesus and begin your incredible journey of discovering your unique purpose!

Testimonials from Other Singles:

“When I first saw this service on the Purposeful Singleness website, I thought, that is really nice and scrolled past it. The second and third time, I started to wonder if this was something I should try. I had some previous reservations to doing this and possibly an expectation or two. However, I was totally unprepared for what was to come and by the end of it all, I was truly humbled by the outcome. Shari is very easy to talk to and she is a great listener, as well as insightful. I realize each experience is different. However, I would recommend this to someone who, much like myself, is looking for some direction and encouragement.”  —Ms. Rodgers

“For years I have struggled trying to discover God’s purpose in life for myself. I believe all or most Christians also want to discover their own purpose. With some reluctance but great expectancy I contacted Shari Baer. The Lord was faithful and spoke through her giving me a whole new perspective. Living on purpose has now been my guide to fulfillment and peace.”   —Susan, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist

“Realizing my life’s purpose has been a difficult challenge for me. Shari was able to guide me through the discovery process of finding that purpose. I’m so thankful for Shari’s expertise and would highly recommend her to anyone.” —Tim

“When I started Coaching with Shari I was not single. My husband had been diagnosed with ALS and Shari coached both of us through that very hard time. My husband passed away two years ago. I cannot imagine going through those years or these last two years without the Lord sending Shari to walk beside me. Not only was I able to survive, but there were times I was able to thrive. Shari’s coaching helped me to live on purpose then and she continues to encourage me now. I live daily on purpose in my career, with my family and my friends. I am now able to encourage others to find and live on their purpose. I will be forever grateful to Shari and thankful to God for putting her in my life.”  —Realtor

“Shari was introduced to me exactly when I needed her. I felt defeated and worthless with everything that was going on. God crossed our paths to bring purpose back into my life. Ever since spending time with Shari, I’ve learned to actually LIVE my life and find the positive in every situation. I’m learning to not allow the negative situations and people drag me down. I’m grateful to Shari for helping me find purpose in the everyday!”  —Daycare Provider/Bus Driver

“I was interested in having a purpose statement because I was at a place in my life where I wanted to make sure I was using my time efficiently, and focusing my life on what God had dreamed up for me. I wanted to be clearer about using my gifts and talents. Since developing my purpose statement, I have a deeper understanding of my passions. It has also deepened how I connect with others and made me more intentional. Through prayer and being attentive, opportunities have come my way for me to share my purpose with others in positive ways. Knowing my purpose has also helped me to be more discerning about decisions — I now make choices which move me closer to and/or are more aligned with my purpose.” —Ginger

“I am a single mother of two beautiful daughters, age eight and ten. My husband went to be with Jesus after being sick with cancer for seven months. Although I am missing my best friend and the girls are missing their daddy, God fills us with His peace, strength, and joy. Through surrendering and trusting God, He made us realize He has a purpose for all of it. I felt like I needed to be active in fulfilling His purpose. So that is what brought me to meeting Shari, who I heard speak at a retreat. I wanted to know my purpose and where to go from here. Meeting with her has given me the knowledge and insight to who I am and what I should be doing. Knowing my purpose has shown me that through our pain He is bringing others to know Him.”  —Raven

How to Begin

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. Or, you can head on over to Living Our Purpose and explore our site and all the info there. If finances hold you back from moving forward in discovering your life purpose and making a coaching appointment, please contact me for a coupon code. I’ll be more than happy to work with you at a rate you can afford. I don’t want money to hold anyone back from living a purposeful life for Jesus!

 

Bookstore – Books for Christian Singles

Books for Christian Singles

Specific book recommendations will be added to this section. In the meantime, feel free to browse the many books on singleness for Christian singles on Amazon.

Purposeful Singleness is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Fern’s Favorite Book on Singleness

Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life

Though marriage is highly esteemed throughout Scripture, the Bible also affirms singleness as an important calling for some Christians. Redeeming Singleness expounds a theology of singleness that shows how the blessings of the covenant are now directly mediated to believers through Christ.

Redeeming Singleness offers an in-depth examination of the redemptive history from which biblical singleness emerges. Danylak illustrates the continuity of this affirmation of singleness by showing how the Old Testament creation mandate and the New Testament kingdom mandate must both be understood in light of God’s plan of redemption through spiritual rebirth in Christ.

As the trend toward singleness in the church increases, the need for constructive theological reflection likewise grows. Redeeming Singleness meets this need, providing encouragement to those who are single or ministering to singles and challenging believers from all walks of life to reflect more deeply on the sufficiency of Christ.