Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Single Adults: Looking for Suggestions to Help in Our Fabulous New Calling

My wife and I just began the best calling ever. We were called as co-chairs of our District's Single Adult Committee. We get to work together and travel together to help LDS single adults in several parts of China, including a sizable group of young single adults (ages 18-30), many of whom are here in Shanghai. Is there a better calling than this anywhere? Honest, no bribes were involved (here I am defining bribes as "cash" and not, say, a bright red 2012 Ducati Streetfighter motorcycle with programmable GlowZone-3 LED accent lights).

Last night we attended the Shanghai baptism of an amazing 19-year-old young man who is our newest young single adult, a bold and intelligent young man who is the only member in his classy and supportive family. We learned more of his story today in the single adult Sunday School class that I got to teach. After Church we had many of the young single adults over for dinner and chatting. What an awesome group of young people. What a blessing it has been already to associate with them. They are at such an interesting and critical stage of their lives now, all having a major adventure with us here in China.

Our calling will take us to some other cities soon to meet with other single adults to better understand their needs and help them out. We'll also need to help plan activities and do other things for them. Suggestions? Any of you done this at the Stake or District level before? Or unit level? I'd like to hear your thoughts about how the Church can better meet the needs of single adults, young and beyond, and what things we should keep in mind, make sure to do, or be sure to avoid. We're complete novices but already love the calling and feel so grateful for it.

12 comments:

Kevin Barney said...

Wow, am I out of the loop. I didn't realize you had left Appleton. No experience to share, but my one bit of advice is to keep a journal. What you are doing is going to be significant in the wider history of the Church, and you don't want to lose the details.

Anonymous said...

What happens when they're still single after 30?

Morgan Deane said...

I'm currently in a singles ward. I would say that you shouldn't treat your members like they are kids. These are all adults, and trying to chaperone them is insulting and ridiculous. Like an RD or advisor at college you have a pivotal role in their development but these aren't kids.

And don't treat their spirituality as though they are in a state of arrested development until they get married. You should emphasize how important marriage is, but also how great their life is )or can be) right now. They are complete people right now. They should be striving for a marriage but also shoudln't put their life on hold for it.

Anonymous said...

Morgan, you provided great advice. Bravo! In my culture, we spend our single adult years learning, traveling, and becoming whole people on our own. --doing all of these things in preparation to marry. I worked at making myself the very best adult person I could be and brought that to my marital relationship. Now that I'm married I feel completely sure about who I am, who I married, and what it is I want to do with this life. I believe that with this recipe, we can prevent so many divorces that are a result of men or women having mid-life crisis, cheating, and/or reverting back to acting like a teenager in adulthood. We all develop at a different pace, some are ready for marriage at 21 (I've seen it happen) and some are not ready till 25 or 35.

Mandla said...

To help the ysa, look into the Institute program, maybe there is some material for you to use with them. I don't think the CES is present in China, but online you can find great resources to help them, especially for the activities.

The importance for Young Single Adults is to have a place to be together, to be uplifted and to develop friendship. Family Home Evening is a good start.

Then, for them is to help them progress in life and prepare them for the next step in their life: mission, priesthood, church callings, study, professional life. Often, we think Single Adults must have marriage as their next steps, but it is not. Until it happens, they must live their life and helping them along the way is far more important.

Anonymous said...

In the mid-eighties, I had a similar calling.

At the time, one observation from the Brethren was that this might be a the period of time when some single adult men and women would have fewer worldly responsibilities, and greater energy, and thus perhaps more time for service, than they would when they were older.

It was at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and our stake single adults organized many service projects to provide care and service to those in the community (both LDS and non-LDS) with AIDS, the HIV-positive, and many also suffering ill effects of still-experimental medications.

(At the time there was never any counsel that the singles ward/single adult program was to be any sort of "dating service", as some I worked with supposed, although I am given to understand that times may have changed in that regard.)

Aaron R. said...

No advice but just wanted to say how cool this is!

Dr Horrible said...

My wife and I have this calling right now at the ward level.

You need to understand that you will have a diverse background of folks with differing levels of interest and maturity. We have some who are on their own for the first time and others with more degrees than my wife and I combined. Finding an activity that suits all of their needs is almost impossible.

What we have done, however, is to create an environment where they can come and socialize freely. We started by doing FHE, but those have evolved into dinners every Sunday. This has been successful so far.

we leave the intense gospel teaching to Institute, and see ourselves as the fellowshippers...

NathanS said...

I served as the stake single adult program director for two or so years as a single adult male, over age 45, that had never been married. I had a unique perspective. I still wanted to marry and have a large family so my interest reached outside of my own age group. I got permission to schedule activities for a variety of interest groups, including "mid-single" (defined variably from area to area), a "children's interest group" (for people either with minor children at home or those feeling ready and desiring to marry and have children) and other groups.

The priesthood leadership was very supportive of everything I wanted to do and the stake singles were very supportive of everything they were willing to do. Some of the activities didn't happen but I still like the idea of flexibility with the program. My belief is that the purpose of the call is to meet needs and as long as your ideas aren't ones that neither the handbook nor the scriptures, nor the Spirit, nor other Church liturature, nor the laws of the land, nor survival says not to do, you can go for it. Uhhh, that is, if your priesthood leadership is as supportive as mine was.

Unknown said...

I stumbled on your blog a while ago and love it! As a YSA myself I have to agree with Morgan Deane's comment. Like G. Hinkley said, we need responsibilities, a friend, and nourishment by the good word of God.

I've been very impressed lately at the enthusiasm we've had in service projects. I have no idea what china does and whats allowed, or what can be done on a regional level (aside from conferences or big campouts). Here are activities that has been met with particular success in our litte branch: Fear factor, wiffleball, broom hockey, self defense classes, bake-offs, "trick-or-treating" for the food pantry, creamside, campouts, emergency preparedness seminars, scavenger hunts, massive treasure hunts, homemaking jam,and game nights.
We are in the process of getting a class together for suicide prevention training. Its a good idea to find what the people are interested in, and whats legal (giant bonfires may be kosher here but not in the city). Sometimes we make surveys to see what is popular or not. Highly publicized events with advanced notice have better turnouts.

Opening your home to the members are sure ways of making them feel like they matter to you beyond seeing them at church. That simple act spoke volumes to me when I moved into my present area. One thing I wish we did more of is making a smoother transition of teenagers in home wards feeling comfortable coming on their own into a singles ward/branch.
Sorry for the tangent, hope its in ANYWAYs useful. :)

Michemily said...

In Germany, I always longed for a wider variety of activities and more catering to the differing groups. It seemed like the students away from home needed more attention than those who had grown up nearby and were still with family, and yet only the long-termers got to make decisions and they were unwilling to make adjustments to help those who weren't long-termers.

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