I was recently reading an article about the conversion of a young single woman named Dawn. The last few paragraphs struck me because they completely subverted my paradigm for how to grow a group of Christians.
I think of Christian growth & development in various ways, but one way I enjoy thinking of it is via Rick Warren's Purpose Driven model. It's a good model, to be sure. However, perhaps it's a little too compartmentalized. Because after coming to Christ, Warren would merely have you focus on "fellowship." However, Dawn's advice was altogether different:
If church leaders truly want to reach out to women and men who are looking for an alternative to that lifestyle, said Eden, they must realize that the last thing single adults need is a singles ministry that turns "your church basement into a sort of 'Animal House' with crosses."
What congregations should do is rally single adults around worship, prayer, books, the arts and service to others, she said. Then friendships and relationships can develop out of activities that strengthen the faith of those that choose to participate.
"You really don't have to dumb things down for us," said Eden. "There are plenty of ways for single adults to get less church if that is what they really want. Why not talk to some of your young adults and ask them what they really want. They may want more church -- more faith -- not less."
Real fellowship happens not just when people gather together, but when people of character & like values get together for a purpose. As a minister sometimes I feel the need to filter out some of the tougher elements of faith when trying to bring folks to Christ or maturity in Christ. "Fail people's expectations at a rate they can handle," as is said by one leadership guru. But this article has me thinking that such an approach may be wrong-headed.