Recently I assaulted the faulty assumption of singles groups as dating forums. This week I examine a separate but equally faulty assumption.
Singles life depletes some so much that they decide to attend activities simply to have fun. Now, some amusement is desirable, especially when the Proclamation on the Family extols “wholesome recreational activities.” Used appropriately, a little fun can rejuvenate.
But centering our involvement around fun leaves many individual needs unmet. We should reject seeing singles activities as activity clubs just as we do dating forums. Both the dating forum and the activity club dismiss the Master’s call to surrender to love. Both turn us away from the outward focus of Christian disciples and towards the inward focus of the natural man.
Getting leadership on board
Of course, leadership holds the key determining the character of any singles group. Nothing happens in the Church without leadership support. Members generally reject what leadership rejects and embrace what leadership embraces.
Thus, when leadership has faulty assumptions, so do most others. By leadership, I mean leaders at the local stake and ward levels. I believe that regional and global leaders envision everyone coming together to build Zion. And that’s the essence of the support networks that singles groups should be.
However, many local leaders of singles groups — both single and married — do nothing more than provide a slate of template activities which don’t consider the needs of individual singles. Often, few singles attend. These same leaders will then wonder why hardly anyone participates.
The answer is pretty obvious when you take a step back. Separate yourself from yourself to see your faulty assumptions and ineffective habits better. Then reformat and reboot yourself with a more effective approach.
Everyone wants to feel loved, like they belong to something both special and bigger than themselves. Singles are no different. But very often, singles feel like they don’t belong and aren’t supported.
That’s precisely why template activities often fail. They don’t recognize the individual’s uniqueness. As such, they don’t meet individual needs.
Ministering to "the one"
I know what walls many leaders are erecting right now. These are busy people who don’t want anything more on their already full plates. That combined with the influence of inertia — that natural tendency all human beings have to keep on keeping on — leads many to resist doing anything radically different.
And yet doing the same things over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
To get different results, we must think differently as well as act differently. How should we think about singles groups? Start with an effective assumption: Singles groups should be support networks, not dating forums and not activity clubs.
Starting with that assumption, leaders more easily ask important questions about their stewardship. What activities would best meet the needs of the singles here? How can we organize our activities to meet their needs better? Thoughtfully considering how to answer such questions often yields better approaches.
Acting on real answers to such questions conducts leaders away from check-box exercises and towards helping individuals to feel loved and supported. Programs don’t support people. Individual human interactions that communicate love do. Singles groups should be support networks.
Everything good will follow
And here’s the marvelous part. The better you minister to “the one,” the less you have to do. The very act of attending to individuals teaches other singles by example what they should do. When you feel weak, come and be filled. When you feel strong, come and fill others. You won’t have to greet everyone when everyone acts on a vision of singles groups as support networks.
Isn’t that what Zion truly is? A community where everyone ministers to everyone constantly answers the call of the Master to surrender to love. Like the faithful single adult Nephi, they go and do.
Success in singles groups is more about meeting individual needs than achieving attendance numbers. But when you start ministering effectively, the numbers follow. That’s because word spreads that you’re helping singles feel loved and supported. Everyone wants that, and so they’ll come to get it.
Leaders responsible for ministering to singles should do just that — minster to individual single adults. Activities are not ends in themselves but rather a means to the end of ministering to “the one.” And ministering to “the one” is what the Savior did. How can we call ourselves His disciples if we do not do likewise?
Let’s all say with our actions as well as our words that singles groups should be networks of support, not dating forums or activity clubs. Let’s all — single and married — surrender to love and minister to each single “one” around us. Let’s all come together and build Zion.
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.
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