Organise a meet up after church

Do you experience a sinking feeling as you go home alone from a church service? Then you are not the only one. A popular way of avoiding this is to get together for a meal after the service – you need to eat, so why not do it with others? It could be at a local pub/restaurant or in the church hall. Setting a monthly date and letting local churches know is a great way to start.

First, it is a good idea to engage your church leaders who may be able to provide support and practical help. Try and avoid naming your group ‘Singles’ as many will find it off-putting.

Where to go

Find a comfortable, reasonably-priced local pub or restaurant with decent parking and public transport links.  Avoid venues that charge extra for group service and require a deposit.

Alternatively, you might consider the church hall. Not everyone can afford to eat out so there should be some awareness of those who are cash-strapped. Depending on the facilities available at your church hall, members of the group could take it in turns to prepare food for the others or you could organise meals on a bring-and-share basis.

If you opt for a pub or restaurant, it’s advisable to:

  • Regularly reserve an area for a late Sunday lunch so your guests have time to get to you after church
  • Ask for tables ideally for 6-8 people to help mixing and conversation. Avoid long banquet tables as these limit mixing
  • Arrange for people to pay for drinks and food individually when they order. This will avoid someone having to sort out a complicated bill and the possibility of the organiser having to pay for items guests have forgotten about. It dispenses with the problems of agreeing a tip and allows individuals to budget their own spending.

Set expectations

Manage the expectations of your guests. We know many singles wish to meet potential partners and this can unwittingly cause them to put pressure on organisers to find them. We suggest you avoid this by making it clear that it is meant to be a social gathering, not a dating group.

Use online resources to limit your admin time and cost. For example, organising your group through Meetups on Christian Connection, a free service for Christian Connection members wishing to organise informal events. See how to do this here.

Although we recommend using Christian Connection meetups or some equivalent in order to limit those who see what you are planning to joined up members of a Christian service, you can also use the public  to enable people to book a place and communicate with you. It also allows you to have a number of organisers listed, so it’s easy to share the work load. People can upload their photos when they sign-up to aid recognition at events.

Promoting your event

If you use Meetups on Christian Connection, then it will be advertised directly for you on its listings and weekly email newsletter.  But more important is to let those around you know. Ask that it goes onto the church's weekly notice sheet.  And all the local churches too - find their addresses or emails and send them information.  Most would be only too delighted to include a notice. If there is a local Christian cafe or shop, then ask to put a notice up there too.

Some churches would be willing to have a verbal encouragement from the front, at which point the organiser can stand up and be recognised.  If they don't and you need to attract people, remember the tour leader's approach of holding a large laminated notice (A3) on a stick up high!! It's cheap to do in a local copy shop. Also have some way of being recognised where you are meeting.  It's so easy for people to look in, find it difficult to find you and then walk away again. These little things make a difference. 

And, finally, If you do do something more structured and regular, then don’t forget to let Single Christians know about your group and we will add you to our own online list of organisers.

Sue Ashman, December 2015, edited David Pullinger 10 April 2017