At first I thought it was a wind up. It should have been. The origin of the e-mail had ‘prank’ written all over it. Not this time. He was serious. And he’d recruited one or two advocates that gave serious credibility to his position.
Yesterday I received an e-mail suggesting that I offer speed dating at Revive. Revive is the annual weekend away for all the Co-Mission congregations. Speed dating is rapid relational facilitation. Essentially it’s an evening devoted to giving single guys and single girls the opportunity to meet one another in a socially contrived situation in order to make hasty decisions about whether to pursue things further. That’s not entirely fair but it’s not completely inaccurate. In an article in Evangelicals Now, Stephen Tucker described it as a combination of blind dating and musical chairs. I hope he got e-mails for that!
I’m not in principle opposed to the idea. I just don’t want to be the one who carries the can for organising it. And I definitely don’t want to be the one who announces it at Revive. It’s not the response from the singles that I fear. They’ll be amused, appreciative but rarely angry. I fear those those who vicariously ‘feel the pain’ of their friends and take me to task for being pastorally insensitive. You won’t be the last! Singleness is a delicate subject. Generally speaking, I’m not good with those! And so, it would be fair to say that initially I was a vocal opponent of the idea. But I’ve recanted. I may cop a bit of flak for this but I think it’s worth it. Because I love the singles in our congregation.
It’s a serious issue for some of the following reasons
1. Lots of our single Christians are sacrificially involved in smaller planted congregations and so there just aren’t loads of potential marriage partners at church.
2. Lots of our single Christians are sacrificially involved in gospel ministry building up the congregations and so they don’t have loads of time to meet potential marriage partners.
3. Lots of our single Christians are shift workers who aren’t around at the times when others are and so they don’t get to participate in the social events at which they might meet potential marriage partners.
4. Lots of our single Christians are finding it hard to resist the allure of attentive, charming non-Christian men at work.
5. Lots of our single Christians are finding it hard to initiate dating situations in small congregations unless the rumour mill starts turning and everything gets out of hand.
Let’s be clear, it’s not my responsibility as the lead pastor of Christ Church Balham, nor as the organiser of Revive to sort out everyone’s relational issues. But, if there’s something that I can do to facilitate social situations where Christian singles can meet potential marriage partners, then that’s good thing. But let me ask the single guys and the single girls some questions.
Girls, let me ask you this. I know you’re keen to meet single Christian guys but are you sure you want this? Do you really want to date a guy that has to have everything laid on a plate for him? Aren’t you worth pursuing? Shouldn’t he have to work a little to meet you and talk to you and persuade you to join him for dinner. It took me three years to persuade Rosslyn to go on a date. She was worth it. Still is. I want the lads to share my pain! The guys will need some encouragement so don’t let your well meaning friends blow everything out of proportion and assume that just because he’s taken you to McDonalds that the next thing he’s going to do is walk you down the aisle. And if he decides that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life with you, he’s done nothing wrong. Don’t let ‘the sisterhood’ punish him. It’s completely wrong and utterly counter-productive. It’ll just deter the lads from dating if they’re going to be made to feel that they’ve done something wicked by not pursuing a relationship.
Guys, let me ask you this. Are you sure you want this? What does it say about you that this needs to be provided? It may say nothing. But it may say that you need to be a man. Don’t worry, we’ll do speed dating at Revive and you should go. But you need to metaphorically ‘walk across the dance floor’ if you think she’s worth it. You’re the hunter gatherer and so you initiate and lead. She might at first resist your advances. She’s allowed to. But persistance pays. Sometimes you’ve got to wear a girl down! [Though I do have the e-mail address of one lovely Christian girl who says that every bloke who asks her out deserves to get two dates guaranteed but I won’t pass it on].
All speed dating will do is provide an opportunity for our single Christians to meet one another in a fun, informal environment and to exchange contact details with those whose company they enjoyed. I’d love it to be cringe free. I hope the lads pitch up. I don’t want to be a punch bag for people with vicarious sensibilities. I’ll take suggestions on how it should be handled. I’ll ignore them but I’ll take them!