Reach out: how to plan an interchurch singles event
‘There aren’t many singles in my congregation and I’ve love to meet more believers in my area for friendship, fellowship and maybe more,’ said the email. ‘I’m thinking about putting on an event at my church for local singles, but I’m not sure where to start. Any advice, HopefulGirl?’
I love it when I hear about someone getting proactive and creating opportunities to expand their Christian social circle, and an interchurch event is a great way to go about it – not just for singles looking for love, but also to build relationships between local believers and encourage cross-pollination between churches – we can learn so much from each other!
First, you need to decide what your event will look like and who it’s aimed at. Pitching it at all single people, not just those looking to date – or even at people of any relationship status wanting to meet more Christian friends – will help to attract more numbers, as it takes off some of the pressure.
There are several different types of event you can consider. Some are essentially a party for people to mix, mingle and meet. Others are more structured, such as speed dating or lock-and-key parties (if it’s specifically about dating) or games nights (if it’s broader). Some events start with a time of worship, which is good for setting the tone for a Christian event – although be mindful that people are used to very different worship styles. Others include teaching aimed at singles – perhaps an afternoon conference with speakers, followed by an evening social. All are good options, and worship and teaching elements can also help to take some of the embarrassment out of a singles event, because people aren’t there just to eye up potential partners.
For the ‘party’ element, some organisers pull out all the stops with a band or DJ, dancing and a full buffet. Others keep it low-key with drinks, nibbles, tables to sit around and subtle background music as people circulate and chat. If you go for music and dancing, make sure there’s somewhere quiet where people can talk. I went to one event that had a chill-out zone off the main party where you could escape the noise, which worked well. At this time of year, a garden party or picnic could also work well.
People will probably be shy about approaching each other to start conversations. Simple ice-breaker games that get people moving around and talking will help, as will friendly hosts who can meet and greet, introduce and guide people into groups.
Publicity is crucial – you really can’t have too much of it. Work out how much you think you need, and then triple it! You need to cast your net wide and get as many local churches as possible to publicise the event. Give yourself around three months to prepare. Make flyers and posters advertising the event, making clear what’s involved and promising a warm welcome to anyone arriving alone. Send them to churches of all denominations over a fairly wide area, and ask them to display flyers and include details in their notices (warning: they won’t all do it). Follow up a couple of weeks before the event with a reminder. Your church leader may be able to help with contacts as they’re probably plugged into a network of local pastors.
Also target community noticeboards and regional newspapers and magazines. Post events on social media in local groups and Christian groups, and ask friends to share them. Add the event to Meetup.com, where people look for groups and events in their area of interest. Don’t forget to put a notice on Events for Christians and the Meetups area on the discussion boards of Christian Connection.
Tickets or RSVPs are a good idea, even if your event is free, so you have an idea of how many people to expect. A website such as EventBrite can make this easy. A nominal ticket price (even if it’s only a few pounds) will encourage people to take it more seriously and feel more committed to going, so they’re less likely to waste their ticket by not turning up.
Organising an event can a big undertaking, so it helps to spread the load if you can enlist help from church members or friends with the music, refreshments, promotion, setting up the space and hosting. But don’t be put off – you can do it, and your local singles will thank you for it. Hopefully, your party will go smoothly – and maybe even become a regular event!
Want to start smaller? Look out next month for HopefulGirl’s advice on arranging a local meet-up for singles in your area.