But that wasn’t the worst part. Nothing he had to say was specific to us singles and the challenges we face.
Does every fireside for singles need to address the specific concerns of singles? No, but I think most should.
Generally when you advertise a “single adult fireside,” you create an expectation that the event will be tailored to a specific audience. When you then deliver to that specific audience something very general — like what we get in Sunday School — you create dissonance within your audience. Most singles want something they don’t get in church with their general membership ward.
And it’s very simple to execute on that. Most people are looking for information to help them live their lives. Singles are no different, so most single adults attending a single adult fireside are looking for information to help them with the crazy emotions that attend singles life in a family-centered church. When you don’t deliver on that expectation, you alienate your intended audience. They then don’t come in the future, denying you the opportunity to minister to them.
2. Make sure your presentation will actually do what you want it to do.
The part that really got to me with this one fireside came after the speaker’s mindless meandering. He showed a video slideshow that described life for his sister after a terrible car crash when she was a teenager. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Horrible story. No one disputes that. But after 20 minutes of this, the speaker then concluded with “So if you think you have it bad because you’re single, just think, ‘It could be worse.’”
It could be worse? OK. Sure. But how does that give me hope? How does considering how much worse my situation could be inspire me to believe that my tomorrow will be — or even just could be — better than my yesterday?
Newsflash: It doesn’t.
If you are going to talk about hope, make sure you offer something that actually kindles hope. This fireside on hope actually robbed me of hope rather than supplying it! Can you believe it?
Of course, it’s easy to forgive ignorance. Most people who present at these firesides married while they were young. They don’t understand what it is like to be single past the age when they married. So it’s little wonder that presentations from such persons usually don’t achieve the desired effect.
The answer here is really simple. And no, it isn’t focus on getting the Spirit and then the Spirit helps the singles to know what they need. That model actually blinds us in our service to singles. Here’s a more effective model:
3. If you don’t know yourself, ask someone who does.
Often the best solutions are the simplest. And this one is about as simple as it gets.
Those who married young won’t understand us singles on their own. So we have to help them! If we who do understand provide feedback ahead of time, presenters can better tailor their message to the needs of singles. This experience will also build bridges of understanding for the marrieds who present, increasing the unity we should have in the faith.
Alternatively, you could settle for having those who don’t understand preaching to those who do. It’s little wonder why many singles don’t attend firesides. They think the events won’t meet their needs. And if your firesides are missing the Big Three I’ve presented here, they’re probably right to think that.
Enough with checking a box off a to-do list or “doing your duty” by going through the motions. Enough with Sunday School take 2. Let’s work to meet the needs of the people and change lives.
That’s part of my book and this blog are about. If enough of us start to think in new and different ways, we can help more people to improve their lives and make the world better for everyone.
And isn’t that what we should be striving to do in every aspect of our service?
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
Joy in the Journey Radio offers many free resources to help LDS singles everywhere, but it certainly isn't free! Help Joy in the Journey Radio in its mission to improve the lives of LDS singles by donating today.
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