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Church News

How Christian dating has changed since lockdown

by Cara Bentley

Finding a partner who shares the same core beliefs can be difficult at the best of times but what about during a global pandemic causing a nationwide lockdown where single Christians can't even meet for coffee, visit the church of the person they fancy, go to a quirky pub or get to know each other over a meal?

Apparently, it's been good for the dating industry. 

Christian Connections, one of the largest Christian dating sites, says they have seen a 25 percent jump in the amount of people signing-up in the last two months and are now in Amazon Alexa's top 500 websites, having a combination of more page views and average daily visitors than both B&Q and the Ancestry website in the UK. 

Jackie Elton, the founder, said lockdown can be hard for unmarried Christians as church life is a source of social life and friendship groups and the closure of buildings has deprived many people a regular place to be with events to attend. She reckons the increase is also due to a combination of having more time and more stress, causing people to think about the bigger questions in life. 

She elaborated: "While many churches provide online church services and group worship meetings, the social dimension is also critical, and that has often felt rather lacking, particularly for the 40 percent of adults who don't live in families." 

The Christian dating app SALT also saw its busiest month ever in April and just hit its record level of 'active users' again this week. 

Co-founder of SALT, Paul Rider, told Premier he agreed that time was one reason more people are testing the courting waters, adding: "It has also ushered in a 'new normal' where digital, video and meeting virtually are commonplace. Therefore people who are wanting to create meaningful and lasting connections, have probably found they have more time as well as there being more people for them to meet online."

Dating events on the video calling app Zoom have also kicked off. 

Shennell Fearon set up 'virtual connections' - video calls with twelve Christians on a Friday night, six men and six women, who are all single. 

She told Premier that upon entry all twelve have their cameras off and there is music playing. A host introduces the event and each person introduces themselves. The group have icebreaker questions, such as what they might have learnt about themselves during lockdown, games to bring out people's personalities and then topics to discuss in smaller groups. It ends with each person having the chance to have a one-to-one chat with each person of the opposite sex, with the host sending optional conversation starters. They can swap contact details or let the admins know that they'd like to get to know that person further.  

 

There is a questionnaire beforehand to check that participants are believers but Shennell explained what else made it Christian: "We want people to connect but there's also this underlying focus that we want it to be really positive. In the Bible in John 15 it talks about being connected to the vine and that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and that we always need to stay connected to Jesus. Partly church helps us to stay connected and, although church is physically closed at the moment, we are the church so we need to provide a way for Christians to still connect with each other even during this lockdown period, to help encourage and edify each other as we go through these challenging situations. A lot of our discussions will bring out that positivity to get us talking about how this is affecting us as single Christians and just building each other up."

Nicole Ruddock from Phoenix Events North is doing a similar thing, but running blind dates over Zoom where each person has three 15-minute dates.

"Being a Christian myself, I know that the dating scene is a bit awkward - a bit cheesy - so I wanted to create events that minimise that and give the opportunity to date but in a fun way.

"We have had 33 percent of people match over the last four events. I get to send an email saying 'you've matched!' and they exchange the exact details, which feels amazing. I feel like Cilla Black."

She's been asked to add more events this weekend and has 20 people on a waiting list. 

Shennell and Nicole both said they'd seen people who wanted to continue talking to another participant after the event. 

In terms of taking those relationships further, SALT's Paul Rider suggested a lockdown dating idea: "For a first date, take a virtual walk together. Get outside in this beautiful weather, put your headphones in and have a phone call as each of you walk and explore your neighbourhoods. You'll have lots of things to prompt questions and conversation and by avoiding a video call in the first instance, you might be more relaxed and able to concentrate on what the other person's actually saying!"

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