Speed dating has become a feature of the modern dating scene. Essentially it involves roughly equal numbers of men and women coming together in a large room. Usually the women sit in place at a table, and the men circulate, spending several minutes with each lady. It is a way to meet a large number of singles in an evening.
Relationship agencies in several countries offer speed dating events that are aimed specifically for Christians. In the words of a British website named Christian Speed Dating (no longer online):
We appreciate that it can be hard to met other like minded individuals, and that it is often important to Christians for a potential partner to hold similar beliefs to themselves. The Bible tells us that we should seek out a Christian partner, but when we have exhausted our own church where do you look next?
The idea of Christian speed dating is designed to help single Christians meet other single Christians in their area. The emphasis is not so much going to look for a potential marriage partner, but more get to know more Christian singles and seeing where it leads.
A New Zealand website, SpeedDate, writes:
Believe it or not, religion was actually the force behind the speed date concept! It was created by a Rabbi in the States wanting to get Jewish people to meet.
And check out this article from the Christian Today website in the UK:
The largest Christian speed dating event in Europe takes place later this month at the annual Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham….Typically, some 250 people will line up in a marquee. Following a short prayer, a whistle will blow and 125 conversations will begin simultaneously, none lasting more than three minutes.
“The manoeuvre feels like a stratified version of the feeding of the 5,000 – without a religious miracle but with plenty of logistical ones!” explains Jackie Elton of Christian Connection, organisers of the event.
“A grand total of 1,800 conversations will take place in 90 minutes. That’s 1,800 concerted blasts of emotional energy and every ounce of social skills and charm available. Don’t let anyone tell you that going speed dating is a soft option. Some come for a bit of laugh – or so they say. Others are convinced that God will find them a partner.”
Camerin Courtney wrote amusingly (no longer online) in Christianity Today about her experience when she went speed dating (arranged by a secular company), together with a few friends:
Initially, we all agreed it was a fun way to meet new people. Once you’ve been in the same job and church for a while, meeting new singles is a challenge. One friend pointed out that speed dating can be a nice antidote to the extreme seriousness with which many Christians approach dating. That seriousness can be quite intimidating, and in many cases has led to a complete lack of dating in a lot of faith circles. Speed dating, in some ways, is a nice way to break that tension and to get singles loosened up and interacting again.
But as time went by, our positive reaction faded. It was easy to feel boosted or deflated based on the number of matches we received. That only reinforces our society’s idea that self-esteem comes from romantic love instead of from the truth that we’re valuable because we’re fearfully and wonderfully made by God. And my initial excitement at being in a room with a bunch of bachelors eventually was replaced by a reminder that it’s quality, not quantity I need. Good single men may seem scarce, but in reality, I only need one God-approved guy.
Did it work? She didn’t meet a compatible guy, and nor did her two girlfriends. However, she reported, a male friend who accompanied them was – at the time of writing – still dating one woman he had met on the night.
Britain’s Church Times was a little more positive, in an article (no longer online) on the Christian dating scene:
Christian speed dating has already proved popular….Greenbelt, Spring Harvest, and New Wine are among festivals that now offer speed-dating sessions. These have led to weddings. Coventry Cathedral played host last year to a huge speed-dating event that sold out.
At the end of the day, speed dating is just another means of meeting people, and surely there can be little that is un-Christian about that. Nevertheless, as Camerin Courtney wrote, “I learned that while you can speed up dating, you can’t hurry love.”