Let me give you an example. On one particular day while scrawling through local meetup.com groups I stumbled upon a Christian singles group. In the "about" section, right at the very bottom, they had this advice:
"We seriously suggest you have "no" contact with members not showing photos or declaring their church affiliation for your own safety. God Bless you all!"
Being a David Thorne fan, I saw an opportunity and could not resist. I applied to join the group with the following introduction in answer to the question of what church I went to:
""Warning: I am not attending a church, therefore I could be potentially DANGEROUS to speak to!"
I received a welcome message by one of the group's administrators (names changed to protect identities - I'm not that cruel!):
R: Hi K, part of being part of the group is posting a church you turn up to. Why? We want the group to remain an open group. So. . .choice is up to you, Rob.
K: Hi Rob, I didn't realise that you had to belong to a church to be a Christian? I don't belong to a church so I guess you can evict me from the group. It's fortunate that Jesus is a little more open ;)"
R: We just ask for a photo and where one turns up on Sundays so we can maintain an open group..just 2 very simple issues. Have you ever attended a church? Are you between churches?
K: I have a photo up. I used to attend church for most of my life actually and also went to Bible College. I have a strong belief in God but I don't want to go to church and I don't believe people have to attend a church in order to have a Christian faith. Again, if this doesn't meet with your criteria, I don't mind being "evicted" from the group. I don't agree with it, but it is, after all, your group and your rules.
R: The group is designed for church-going Christians wanting to meet similar people. So. . Again. .its probably not the right fit for you? By the way, don't I know you from... [describes situation in which we know one another].
K: Hello Rob, yes I am [the person he recognised as having met in a particular situation]. I've also completed a ministry qualification with [Bible College] where I worked for the church virtually fulltime without pay for five years and about 5 years ago started a Christian-based Charitable Trust helping at-risk families. But no, by all means, judge whether or not I am a "Christian" by whether or not I go to church. So this is your choice Rob. It's your group.
R: I thought it was you! Great to be chatting! I was involved with another Single Christians group but the woman who led it just cut people including me out. So when Christopher came to NZ and started this group I got right behind him. In regard to yourself, I don't want to exclude you, we keep this as an open group but for identity issues we just ask for those 2 things, photo and church. I can't change that. I recommend you post the last church you were at and add "between churches", that is acceptable. I hope you can see where I'm coming from K. Rob
K: Well sorry to hear that you had some "political issues" there. Quite honestly, the last church I was at was about 5 years ago and I am not between churches so I'm not going to put that. There are tons of Christians that don't go to church yet still have a strong faith. I feel really strongly that you should not be excluding anybody based on whether or not they go to church - Jesus sure didn't. We are adults and don't need protecting...R: Well K if you knew some of the issues we have dealt with you'd so get why we ask for those two so simple prerequisites. One example among many, we have secular guys join up for a nite, who have to be nipped in the bud and excluded, they just want to go to a meal as there are plenty of women. They have one agenda! That's not the environment we want to foster and that's not the kind of guys Christian women want to meet! I could cite example after example. .the example re Sarah isn't politics just her personality! She's a my way or the highway type. So we have an impass. Think about it? And if you do and if you do want to meet genuine, rather than disingenuous guys, Christian men and women with some character, good traits etc then we expect their faith to have some balance. The Bible is clear about fellowship, about not forgetting to meet together regularly etc. .what more can I say K. Rob
K: Well Rob, I am truly shocked to hear about these secular guys that showed up for a night and had the audacity to have a meal with you. What was their one agenda? Was it to try and get the women to pay for their meal? What sort of environment were they creating there? Was there any swearing? Oh it sounds like Sarah is very difficult indeed - kind of like if you don't go by my rules you just can't join sort of thing? Yes, you're right, Rob, I really would like to meet some genuine guys with really good character - that won't judge me or worse - get me to pay for their meal or something. So you're saying I should just fudge the application and say what my last church was and I was "in between" churches even though I don't intend to go to one in the near future? Or are you saying that I should go to church so that I'll be allowed in to the singles group? K
R: The singles guys were looking for a 1 nighter! A shag, nothing more, nothing less. They are secular guys and that's the way it is for them. But they didn't get to go to the meal as they proved reasonable to deal with and got that as they didn't go to a church they didn't qualify to come to the dinner. So . . See the plot thickens in regard to why we have these 2 prerequisites. Just put studied at Bible College. . . You see even with the people that join the group we don't know who is telling the truth till we meet them etc. one big concern is that anyone in the Meetup set up can contact others in the group. So we know certain guys see Christian women as vulnerable, umm, and a bunch of other things that they think they physically are just their answer..yeah right ! I've learnt, after years and years that the majority of Christian guys are bout 1/2 as bad as secular guys and the secular girls can be worse than the secular guys and that the Christian girls are about 1/2 as bad as the Christian guys. In fact much the same as good secular ladies. People have trouble handling their humanity. This is by no means a dating agency but it is a place people can meet others and hopefully thrive! Rob
K: What? They just wanted to go to the meal with all you Christians to just shag a Christian woman for one night? I cannot believe it! How do you know that this is what they wanted? Don't tell me that they TOLD you that? The women must have been seriously terrified. I honestly don't know how they would have coped if you hadn't stepped in! It's bad enough having to work with secular men let alone go to dinner with them. Or even worse - that you can get a message from them - because let's be honest, guys that go to church would never dream of wanting sex before marriage so I can see why you'd have that pre-requisite listed. I really get what you're saying about this whole church thing. I mean you have absolutely no guarantee since I haven't gone to church in so many years that I won't randomly message a guy and ask him for a shag. The only way you could possibly guarantee that I won't do that is if I attend a church. Not sure what to do to help you in that case. K
R: They just saw like 6 women, 2 guys at the event. .thought hey, looking like good odds. I soon worked them,out via msgs like these.
K: Yes exactly. Us non-church goers... we're all the same. Sounds like it was a close call. Lucky you caught it in time.
R: [Referring to my introduction] Hey. . Ya cant post things like you have written not attending church.. That's seriously taking the piss and being disrespectful K.
K: OK I'll change it. I hope that is now more clear...
"Warning: I am not attending a church, therefore I could be potentially DANGEROUS to speak to. Because of non-church attendance, I'm likely to only have ONE AGENDA!"