This year IGSL has the highest percentage of single degree students we’ve ever had. Along with our single staff who work at IGSL, there are about 70 adult singles on campus (most in their late 20’s or early 30’s). In Asia single adults are endlessly teased, nagged, and paired up by well-meaning but insensitive matchmakers. Singles are often not even considered adults until married, treated as “youth,” and (if not married by 30) are seen by too many people as “abnormal” or inferior Christians. That only adds to the pressure they feel by an overly sexualized media culture.
IGSL has always had a much-appreciated weekend marriage conference for our married students. The singles felt left out and the Asian culture only added to their sense of being marginalized. This year, however, we saw the need for a weekend Singles’ Conference. God gave Steve Hobson, chair of the leadership department, a burden to “make it happen.” A team of faculty and student council leaders was assembled. Together they designed a highly interactive weekend. Instead of the usual “be content, prepare for marriage, stay pure” message they decided to dig deeper into the theology of singleness. The conference included table discussions, group projects, biblical teaching, self-evaluations, a panel discussion, videos, and a delightful celebration dinner.
And God moved! There was uproarious laughter and deeply felt tears. The singles came away affirmed and reassured that they are an important part of Jesus’ church. (After all, Jesus and Paul were single!)
- “This conference was really important in helping me understand how God sees and values my single status—a radical shift in my view! We have to get this kingdom perspective out to the churches!”
- “Now I understand that marriage is important but not ultimate/eternal; that marriage in Christ shows the shape of the gospel, while singleness in Christ shows the sufficiency of the gospel.”
- “I didn’t want to go, but I’m so glad I did! I so appreciated learning that in the OT the emphasis for growing God’s covenant people was having physical children, but in the NT it is on making disciples, spiritual children.”