Madison Area
Christian Singles

 ( a possibility )
 

Here is a summary of the ideas in this page:

        WHY ?
        The goal is to help you meet other Christians.
        trying to solve a problem:  If you and an ideal mate both live in the Madison area, you probably will never meet.  This is a sad situation.  It's a problem.  Can we do something to improve the situation, to "make it better" and solve the problem?  Yes.  And I think we should, consistent with a faith-principle of combining prayer and action, illustrated by Moses (faithful prayer) and Joshua (faithful action) in Exodus 17:11.  We can ask God for guidance in wisely developing effective ways to find each other and communicate, to develop a stronger faith-based community of Christian singles in Madison.

        WHAT ?
        We combine occasional in-person meetings (maybe once a month) with internet profiles.
        In addition, we could facilitate opportunities for informal activities (hiking, biking, bowling, dancing, dining, discussions, movies,...) between the occasional meetings.
        Why?  The profiles will make it easier to quickly learn more about more people — potential mates and also potential friends — to serve as convenient starting points for in-person interactions (so we can learn more about other people in real-life contexts) at meetings, and outside meetings.

        HOW ?
        in-person meetings can be simple (nametags are the only essential) or more complex (with speakers, discussion topics, or activities) with drinks/food optional (the only essential is a water fountain, but more is possible), and flexibility for timings (always the same? varying?) and location (move it around?).  Meetings could be similar to those of conventional singles groups (Metro,...) but probably with more people.
        internet profiles can be done locally (in a database we build & maintain) or we can use a free service like ChristianDate.com;  internet profiles will include whatever each person wants to share (no more, no less) and pictures.  For all relationships, both online and (especially) in person, safety is a valid concern in our sinful world, so we should use principles for being more safe.
        To be effective, publicity is important.  We can work with existing ministries who, if they want, can tell single adults about MACS (Madison Area Christian Singles, or whatever it's called) verbally or in print or on the web;  official involvement would not be necessary (so a disclaimer is fine) because they would just be providing information.*  We also can “tell people what's happening” with the Events Calendar or on-air announcements of WNWC radio, or through those who are using commercial profile-services (like ChristianCafe or ChristianMingle), or (maybe) with “personal ads” in local newspapers or on craigslist, and in other creative ways.  /   Metro (a ministry of Blackhawk Church) might be the only “singles group” in Madison (some links I've found), but other churches have people interested in serving single Christians.

        WHO ?
        Who can join us?  any single Christian in the Madison area.
        Who will do the work?  I can make web-pages, and others can help with content decisions (about text + links) and artistic design.  If we have a local database for profiles, someone would have to make it, and put it on a web-server.  We would need people for in-person meetings, to plan and (before + during) to coordinate.
        How?  We — including everyone who wants to consider the pros & cons of a combined community (with internet plus in person) and think creatively about ways to optimize it (by maximizing its benefits and minimizing any potential problems we can imagine) — can discuss possibilities by email, phone, and in person.
        I'm Craig Rusbult, craigru57 atttt yyaahhoooo daut caum (disguised to avoid spam) or crusbult@wisc.edu.

        WHY NOT ?
        When I've contacted local "singles ministries" about this hybrid combination of online profiles plus in-person meetings, one response is that "we don't want to provide a dating service."  But this oversimplistic response is based on misunderstanding the goal, which is to "MEET other Christians."  It's a MEETING service, not a dating service.
 

MORE
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, recently (May 29, 2013) wrote an excellent article asking "Is Online Dating Biblical?" with links to more, including this (earlier in 2013) by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin.

 

And here is the full-length version, with more details and some IOUs:

 
        WHY ?
        Madison is a great place to meet people if you're young, especially if you're attending UW (or Edgewood, MATC,...) as a college student or graduate student.*
        But it's tough for anyone over 30, and is even more difficult for Christians who don't want to get involved in the singles bar scene.  To make things easier and more fun for us, a ministry that could be useful is Madison Area Christian Singles, MACS.  As indicated in the page title, so far this is only an idea, although (as you'll see below in "HOW: Group Discussions") soon things could begin to move, if people think this "hybrid ministry" might be useful.
       * a MACS-type group might also be useful for younger people, to increase the scope of their social circle and include more fellow Christians within it, but this would be separate from an over-30s group.
 

        WHAT ?
        The main idea is to combine internet profiles with occasional in-person meetings.  In addition, maybe we could coordinate opportunities for informal activities (hiking, biking, bowling, dancing, dining,...) and smaller groups (for discussion and support) between general meetings.   /   update in 2013: Yesterday [May 28], Laura's RSVP-request reminded me about the meeting June 1, and I said "yes, I want to share this MACS-page on the Metro-list tomorrow, and attend Saturday."  Today, the focus of an email from Focus on the Family was an excellent article (by Jim Daly) asking "Is Online Dating Biblical?" with a link to more, including this by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin.
        Why?  The profiles would make it easier for each person to quickly learn more about a larger number of people, compared with the practical limitations (due to limited time) of learning about each person individually in a brief conversation — if you happen to be at the same singles event (and you're at the same dinner table or you meet them during the mingling) or if you're an effective talker between church services (and you attend the same church) — or never meeting them at all, which is the usual result now.(*)  Information in profiles would provide convenient, efficient starting points for a wider range of in-person interactions at meetings, or outside meetings.
        * Do you view this result — "never meeting them at all" — with the same sadness that I do?
        Yes, I agree with you in believing that God can and does "arrange meetings" for us — I've had many experiences of God working through "coincidences" to do His work — but usually God wants to work WITH us when we are active in doing things, instead of doing everything for us.  An example is Exodus 17:11, when Moses prayed on a hill above the field where Joshua was defending Israel against attack: "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning."  Moses (praying) and Joshua (fighting) were both essential parts of this process.  If we want to meet other Christian singles in Madison, an organized action-plan (for finding each other and communicating) will be helpful, and we can pray for God to help us by working cooperatively with us in our actions.
        Much more could be said, but instead you can think about the possibilities and you'll see the many potential benefits of a "reading and meeting" combination, compared with either by itself, or with the current sad situation for singles.

What is the current situation?   During website-checking in June 2009, I found only two singles groups for six large churches in Madison:  Blackhawk [Metro3040s] and High Point [BASIC], plus Bethel Lutheran [support group for divorced], Lake City [50s singles/married], Mad City [none, ex-SALT], Crossroads [none] — details & links
update:  No, June 2009 isn't very "current" in 2013, so recently (May 29) I began checking — and found that perhaps Metro is now the only group in Madison? — and will share the information I find.
 

        WHO ?
        Who can join us?  any single Christian in the Madison area.
        Who will do the work?  I can write basic web-pages with text & links, but having someone help with artistic design would be very useful.  If we provide a database for "who is interested in what kinds of activities" we'll need someone who can do this.  As explained below, if we make a free database with local profiles, this would require someone who knows "how to do this" and would be willing to do it.

        HOW-and-WHO:
        For the "how" of internet profiles, there are two main options;  probably B is more practical, and it would require the least extra work-time for the "who" that would do the work.
        A) We can set up a website with a database as a no-cost service, with volunteers doing the extra work (beyond making the basic web-pages) needed to produce the database and make it as secure as possible, and put everything on a webserver.
        B) We can agree that we'll all use one or more existing services.  The basic service for MACS should be FREE.  I'll continue checking the possibilities (in late-May 2013) but in June 2009 the best I found (mainly during a semi-comprehensive search in 2007) is Christian Date.  (update: I checked it May 29, and it's still online, soon I'll check it more thoroughly for details)  Their profiles are fairly good, with basic-info answers, plus a "brief statement" and an open-ended essay, and you can post 2 photos;  their "search" is especially useful because it lets you find only profiles from Madison (or any other area) or for larger areas.  Since 2007 they have begun asking for donations [I'll check this now, in May 2013], but payment is voluntary and the profiles-and-contacting are still offered for free.   /   We should not use a paid service as the foundation for MACS.   { But I personally think a paid service (many are available) can be useful.  Some websites (like Christian Cafe or ChristianMingle) are specifically Christian, and others (eHarmony, match,...) allow you to focus on finding other Christians.  I mainly use Christian Cafe [in 2009] because it has informative profiles (see end of page for mine) and their "searching" has many useful options and is easy to use.  For me, and many other busy people with "more to do than time to do it," a high-quality paid service is a good "time versus money" investment, but for MACS a free service is better because this will make it easier for more of us to say YES, and will eliminate any suspicion that the motivation for MACS is money. }
        B seems more practical, because it will be easier in the beginning and also on a continuing basis.  But A might be very good (alone or to supplement B) if we have a volunteer who knows how to do it, and will.

        If we do B, we'll still have a basic website (without profiles-and-database) to coordinate and communicate, and make available (through links) useful web-resources for quality Christian living and spiritual edification.  Probably we would make a website so several people have access to it, for contributing and editing, to make this an "us" activity and avoid overworking any of us.

        With either option for profiles, we'll need help with in-person meetings.

 
        HOW ?

        PROFILES:  These include a personal description (whatever you want to share, no more and no less) and pictures.
        security:  Personal safety is a valid concern, especially for women, in our sinful world.  But common sense can minimize risks that are specific to internet communication.  For example, ChristianCafe.com has a safety page suggesting that you Take Your Time, Use Common Sense, Meet in a Public Place, and more.  {an IOU - We can write our own "safety tips" page, summarizing ideas from other sources and making links to safety-pages we think are especially good. more about safety tips }  But I don't think the risks are greater for web-profile meetings than for many types of in-person meetings;  for either, common sense is a key, and of course each of us should pray for protection, asking God to protect us and give us wisdom;  then we must live by faith, as in all areas of life.

        DISCUSSION:  Before we make decisions and take action, we'll have discussions (in small groups or in a larger community) about foundational questions — what is the current situation in Madison for individual single Christians (in a variety of life situations) and for church-based workers (ministering in different ways), and how would we like the situation to be? — and the pros & cons of various options for improving our situations.  [update: A good beginning could be the meeting about Metro on June 1.]  [Please consider the next sentence, and the "communication" paragraph, to be outdated ideas from years ago;  evidently I wrote this before the Metro-list was running?  Well, this could be done better by other people, and I think it already is.  If we do something, it should be done through "the community" led by people who are leaders in the local community, with the cooperation of local churches.] Sometime soon (in mid-to-late August) [of 2008? 2009?] I'll probably set up an email-list with Yahoo or Google or... (if you have suggestions for which is best, please let me know) and will try to reach people who might be interested, to say "we'll start a discussion soon" and let them sign up for it.
        communication:  For the community as a whole, we can use an email "reflector" list, so each post-to-the-list is automatically sent to everyone on the list.  This could be an existing email list, or a new list.  Or maybe use Facebook, or ...   /   For individuals, if we use Plan B the person-to-person communication can be done within the external profile-website, or through personal emails. (see the safety tips)

        MEETINGS:  Having meetings occasionally (maybe once a month?) would help get a "critical mass" of attendees and make it an easier decision to say "yes, this will be a good use of my valuable time" when (because enough people are attending) there is a good chance to meet interesting people, have fun, and maybe find a mate.  Meetings could be viewed in two ways:  1) as simply a way to allow in-person meetings with people whose profiles we've read;  2) as a social event with planned activities, with "mixer" games and/or a speaker,..., similar to what is done now in current singles groups like Metro or BASIC.  Everything would be similar to current meetings, but (probably) with more people involved.
        #1 is easier.  But #2 offers some additional benefits.  Either way, name tags would be essential so we can know "who is who" and make socializing easier, and for connecting profiles with people.  Having soft drinks (and maybe simple snacks) would probably be good, but not essential.  My preference is #1, especially at the start (to keep it simple and avoid overworking people who are doing the work) but I can imagine a variety of fun-and-useful formats for meetings, so I'm flexible and open to a variety of ideas.  Anyway, it will be us (not me) who decides what happens, or if nothing happens.
        activities:  For informal activities and discussions, a MACS-website could include a page of things to do, and who likes to do what, and who wants to talk about what, with times/places for events that are arranged by organized singles groups or informally by individuals, as in the current list for MetroAktive.  {plus Blackhawk Affinity Groups, and other activities around Madison}

        PUBLICITY:  This is important.  We can work with existing singles groups who, if they want, can help persuade people in other churches in the Madison area (broadly defined) to tell their single adults about MACS, verbally or in print or on the web.  If a church does this, an official "involvement" wouldn't be necessary, we would just ask them to provide information for people who attend their church, and let individual people do what they want.  MACS could be listed in the Events Calendar of WNWC radio, and maybe (or maybe not; we can discuss the pros & cons) we can put "personal ads" in local secular newspapers such as Isthmus, over-50s papers,...   /   We can try to contact members of existing internet services (like Christian Cafe) who already are persuaded about the benefit of internet profiles.  But it might be difficult to contact them, since the for-profit services want to protect their profit by keeping their paying members on their own service.

        ACTION:  If you're interested in forming a group to explore possibilities, make decisions, and take action, email me — (craig@chem.wisc.edu or ) — and we'll get things moving.  Initially, DISCUSSION seems like a good way to begin.
 


 
SINGLES GROUPS IN MADISON
Here is a summary of what I've discovered — i.e. discovered in June 2009, with today's updates [in brackets] and broken links in bold italic — about singles ministries in six large churches in Madison.

    Metro3040s — [This link has been broken - I'll search and soon will find the new page.] http://www.blackhawkchurch.org/conn/am-ac.php
    BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) — [This page now has nothing about BASIC, so maybe this group has vanished? I'll web-search for it soon.] http://highpointchurch.org/343608.ihtml

    Separated and Divorced Group — [another broken link] http://www.bethel-madison.org/ministries/separated_divorced.html
    Prime Time: A Ministry for Those Fifty and Over (single and married) for Lake City Church — [it's now at the link for "Prime Time" below] http://www.lakecitychurch.org/cms/content/view/33/37/

[There is an exciting development - City Church has formed by the merger of Lake City and Mad City! - but I don't see any "singles ministry" in their ministries-page except for 20s/30s and their generic ministry for over-50s, Prime Time.] [another IOU - Soon I'll web-search to see if they have a group for older singles.]

    none — [another broken link - sigh] http://www.crossroadscrc.org/ministries/
    none — [now this is part of City Church, as explained above] http://www.madcitychurch.org/
 


 
SAFETY TIPS
Here are some practical tips for safety (most of it repeating what's in ChristianCafe's safety page) to supplement the intro-summary above:
• in your profile, don't include information that reveals your identity, either directly or via google-searching;
• if you use a public computer, log off the profile-service and quit the browser;
• use a free "throwaway" e-mail address (from Yahoo, MSN, Google, Hotmail, Lycos,...) instead of your main address;
• call from a public phone instead of your home phone, to avoid caller-ID tracking;
• arrange to meet in a public place (how about at church?) and don't get in his car,...
• as one way of using CCafe's tip to Take Your Time, you can arrange a "date" by attending his church to see if he is involved and if other members know him, or check his "references" in other ways;
• the dangers of meeting online don't seem to be more (and might be less) than meeting in many other ways;
• and however you meet, a useful principle is to always use common sense.

10 Dont's for Online Dating (by Lisa for the "Boundless" community run by Focus on the Family)

Also, today (May 29, 2013) an email from Focus on the Family featured an excellent article (by Jim Daly) about online dating generally, with a little bit specifically about safety. (and it links to this by Suzanne)
 


 
This possibilities-page was written by Craig Rusbult (craig@chem.wisc.edu) who attends BlackHawk Church and has two bio-pages:  one is short and the other is longer with more personal information, plus my profiles in ChristianCafe (where I'm a paid-up member until Nov 2009) and eHarmony (where I'm temporarily a member through Sep 2009).

this page is https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/crusbult/web/macs.htm