I attended an event today. It was advertised as a meeting for matured singles and was organised by a church.

I go for events even though I’m introverted because they’re a good way to meet people outside my circle. Hopefully, I can also learn something new. 

Now, the aim of the event was to provide a forum for single, separated, widowed, divorced and complicated people to talk about the issues they are dealing with and to network with one other. I appreciated this. I believe we underestimate the insight and comfort that sharing experiences provide. Therefore, I support any forum that provides same and commend the organisers. They were gracious and kind.

During the event, someone made a statement that got me thinking, however. She wondered why some people weren’t expressing themselves freely and were being religious. The positioning of the event from the get-go created that. Now, don’t get me wrong. The hearts of the organisers were in a very good place. But, I find that those who work in the religious sector find it difficult to think outside of a religious mindset. They plan things from the premise of, “We need to save people from themselves and do so in a way that does not water down the Spirit.” As if such a thing were possible or the Holy Ghost needs help:).

When you brand an event with the nomenclature, “matured singles”, you immediately put off those who do not want to appear obvious or desperate. Calling it a mixer or networking event would suffice. But that does not satisfy religious sensibilities. In addition, while I strongly believe people need answers to burning questions, we need to minimise the impression that they need their Pastors’ endorsement or permission to live their lives. Pastors have a store of wisdom, yes, but the emphasis should be on people reasoning and seeking God for themselves. They should develop personal relationships with God and seek to understand his word. People make more decisions when they’re alone than when they have access to their Pastors, so independent thinking is critical. Therefore, having a Pastor answer all the questions at a single’s event instead of creating an interactive discussion forum may not be a good idea.

At a Single’s event, I think emphasis should be placed on people connecting and not just meeting. Beyond going around a room to say hi to people whose names you will soon forget, there needs to be structured interactions. There should be a shared database of people who attend (this should be opt-in), so if people need to leave early, they can still reach out to those they want to continue conversations with. An event app like Bizzabo can help or a Facebook Group.

So, it was a really lovely initiative but, it could have been so much more.