Church Singles' Groups = Generous Couples Mixed marriages can really kill contributions. Once the couple is married, and even more once the children have come, it is their responsibility in the eyes of God and man to keep marital peace. In mixed marriages this often means a token gift in the collection basket. It is not easy to argue that sacrificial giving means sacrificing marital harmony. If the clergy wants generous couples they need to encourage people to marry within the faith. One easy way to do that is to support church singles' groups.
Church singles' groups have many advantages over normal American courtship. Beyond encouraging people to marry in the faith they also reduce divorce. The experience of my parents' singles' group provides a dramatic example. My parents meet in a liberal Protestant church singles' group in Berkeley, California. When couples married they had to leave the original group so they formed their own group that was still meeting more than a half century later. Of the thirty plus couples who were involved in the married group for more than a short period of time none divorced. Collectively they have had more than a millennium of happy marriage. Pretty miraculous for bunch of liberal Protestants from Berkeley, California in the second half of the 20th Century.
But Protestants, liberal or otherwise, are not the only ones who have had success with Church singles' groups. My former landlord found his wife in a San Francisco based Catholic singles' group. Married couples who found each other in this group only meet about once a decade so they are not so sure of their success but as far as my former landlord knows there group also avoided divorce. I have spoken to people from other Catholic groups who report perfect or near perfect success. It is not my point, nor is it terribly relevant, whether the success of church singles' groups is perfect. The point is that it is far better than the common alternatives.
Forming strong marriages and avoiding divorce serve many of the church's objectives. Married couples and their children are far less likely to experience poverty. Forming strong couples aids social justice.
A happy marriage is usually an aide to spiritual development both for the couple and their children, and the children of a happy marriage are more likely to form strong marriages in their turn.
For so many reasons strong marriages and therefore the church singles' group serve God, man, and the church, but what can the clergy do?
The singles' group is often a lay run affair but the clergy can provide a crucial assist. The clergy can recommend church singles' groups from the pulpit. This is more than a matter of publicity or pastoral influence, even though those are important. The clergy can help over come the prejudice that singles' groups, including church singles' groups, are for losers who can not get a date. It is not about getting a date, it is about making a marriage last.
The clergy may also want to exert their influence to keep the groups balanced between the sexes. There is a tendency for groups that start out dominantly male or female to become more oriented toward which ever sex is the majority. The majority chooses the activities, which attracts more people from the majority and progressively less from the minority. You would think that more people from the minority sex would be attracted but strangely this does not happen, and the groups frequently die as a result. This is where you can with a little effort exert a countervailing influence that can keep the group balanced and thriving.
You might also think that the singles would realize the problem and do this for themselves. The problem once again maybe human pride. The singles may not want to say lets try to attract the other sex because they feel it makes them seem like losers who can not get a date. You can use your influence to make it cool to seek a balance between the sexes.
I have a web page on keeping church singles' groups balanced.
Tell me what you think. Here is my contact information..Last edited January 12, 2004
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