Editor’s Note: This is another installment in our “Single and…” series where we will interview singles from all walks of life. It is our hope that you are encouraged by the stories of people who have a similar journey as you, who share the same dreams you have, who face the same hurdles you do, and who can remind you that you are not alone.
We love hearing about any single who is living counter-culturally, especially those who say, “Why not?” when considering something offbeat, like moving across the state to join in the work God is doing in another city.
We first met Matt Moore last year through some mutual college friends. We’d heard a lot about his blog and his testimony about coming to Christ just a few years ago from a lifestyle of homosexuality, but one of the things that most intrigued us about Matt was how he, along with our friends, was moving to New Orleans to help plant a church.
Of course we had a ton of questions, like Why? How? And…WHERE? We caught up with Matt recently, and here’s what he had to say about being a part of a church plant as a single adult:
Tell us about your church. Where is it located? How did you get involved with helping to plant it?
Matt: Our church is in the Uptown/Carrolton neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. We launched NOLA Baptist in August of 2013, but the 10 of us on the original team began transitioning from Shreveport to New Orleans during 2012. When I joined our mother church, Norris Ferry Community Church in Shreveport, LA, the guy heading up the NOLA plant quickly became a good friend of mine and he actually began discipling me. In our meetings he would talk a lot about New Orleans and the work they were moving there to do, and eventually I decided I had nothing to lose and would join them.
What’s it like to be single in a small, new congregation?
Matt: It can be awkward, but being a single surrounded by marrieds anywhere is awkward!
What has been the hardest thing about being involved in such a new congregation?
Matt: A healthy sense of “community” can be difficult to develop in a teeny-tiny congregation. You’d think it would be easy, being that all you’ve got is each other. But that’s actually the problem. We Americans are so used to being able to select our way into social circles—even within the church—where the people within share our interests or our passions or our life stage. In a small congregation that doesn’t have those kind of community-shopping options, you’re forced to die to yourself and go beyond the normal, surface level types of friendships. Being forced into a true, biblical sense of community has been hard…
What has been one of your greatest joys?
Matt: …but it’s also been my greatest joy. Learning to embrace people first as brothers and sisters in Christ instead of looking to surface level, worldly similarities to unite us has been an incredible, life-giving experience. Being able to have bonded with people in a Jesus-centered, gospel-connecting sense has showed me what true community actually is and how shallow similarity-based friendships are in comparison.
What has been the most surprising thing about helping plant a church?
Matt: How slow our growth has been, for sure. When we first got down here, I envisioned 75-100 people attending our services by the time we hit the two-year mark. We’re quickly approaching two years, and we’ve definitely grown (doubled our membership and have another 15-25 people inconsistently visiting), but not near to the degree that I’d imagined. Ministry outside of the Bible-Belt (if that even still exists?) is difficult and slow. People in a city like New Orleans have less than zero interests in “looking into” or casually visiting churches, which has forced us to really re-evaluate our perspectives on evangelism and to realize that in this culture, we must be people who relationally engage unbelievers with the gospel outside of church walls. Embracing this and actually doing it has also been an incredible life-giving experience.
If someone reading this is single and involved in a church plant or a small congregation, what advice would you give them?
Matt: If you haven’t already, really embrace the people around you and view them as your family, because they are. Don’t let any bitterness concerning your singleness—and your brothers’ and sisters’ non-singleness—overcome your heart. Utilize your current singleness to serve your church. And don’t base your joy on the number of people sitting in the pews at your services. Let your joy be in Christ and just keep positioning yourself to be used for the gospel alongside this small congregation that Christ loves so much.