How do I find a Christian friend
There was no one for Chris and Tobias that evening. "Much too old" are the women there on the first floor, optically not at all their thing and then this "crampedness" with which some looked around the room, well, thank you very much. They didn't "need it that much", after all, they were only 36. They used the drinks break, during which the singles were asked to buy as many chai lattes, fruit juices and muffins as possible in the café, to leave.
Martin is 42 years old. He's been coming to the singles club for a few years, even today without success. "Next year I'll register with a broker on the net," he says, a Christian one of course, just like this evening at Starbucks in downtown Zurich is for Christian singles.
"Has God forgotten me?"
Jürg Birnstiel, preacher of the free Protestant community in Zurich Helvetiaplatz, has been ensuring that Christians get to know Christian women for over twenty years. The meetings take place every first Saturday of the month, around 80 singles came to the coffee shop that December evening. Birnstiel does not know how many marriages have already come about with his help, new ones are constantly being added. A couple who met at the last meeting will get married in the summer, he says into the microphone. That should be encouraging. Then the pastor becomes strict: The seating arrangements will be changed soon, everyone will have new people seated next to them. Of course you should talk to them, but, "dear men: It is of no use if you spend the whole evening talking to a woman who is twenty years younger than you. Do not overestimate yourselves. No woman is here to meet a man. who is so much older than her. " Embarrassed silence. Chris and Tobias exchange meaningful looks.
All names of the Christian singles in this text have been changed, and photos may never be taken at the meeting. The shame of not finding anyone seems to be particularly great among Christians. The ideal of the one partner whom God has made for one puts many under pressure. "Has God forgotten me?" is a question that pastors like Jürg Birnstiel are asked again and again. Actively trying to find a partner comes to many people's minds late. After a long wait, when God just didn't send anyone.
House groups and prayer groups are part of it
The Zurich singles meeting is just one option that Christians have when looking for a partner for life. Matthias Röthlisberger, a young web designer, founded a Christian partner search in 2009 in Siebnen, a small town in the canton of Schwyz: chringles.ch. About 3000 people are registered there. "After everything we have evaluated, a couple gets together every week," says the entrepreneur, who is now also active in southern Germany.
Matthias Röthlisberger lives the life that many Christian singles long for. He is in his thirties, married, has a young daughter, a good job, and is involved in a small evangelical church. His wife is just as devout as he is. There is no question that you get up on Sunday morning and go to church. With home groups and prayer meetings, much of his free time is devoted to faith - and many of his friends attend the same church. "There are maybe 150 people in a church. If no one is there, it will be difficult to find a Christian partner," says Röthlisberger. Some of his acquaintances felt the same way. That's why he founded Chringles, an after-work project that he's running in his advertising agency.
The Swiss free churches have had a lot of popularity in the past decades, around 150,000 members are said to belong to the mostly evangelical congregations today. In German-speaking Switzerland in particular, these are closely linked. Matthias Röthlisberger from the canton of Schwyz knows Dome Pastor Jürg Birnstiel from Zurich, who in turn is advertised by Röthlisberger's competition, yourlove.ch. There he offers single trips and single weekends.
The "Nice Guys" don't have that much success
Birnstiel is worried about the female singles who visit his hangout once a month. "There are just still these clichés: Women are looking for someone older and taller than them who deserves more if possible. Men have exactly the opposite pattern. And that makes it so difficult for older, well-paid women to find a partner. " Birnstiel tries to break that open. He believes that if women looked at younger, smaller, less well paid men too, things would be easier.
But the men also have to change something. A few weeks ago a book was published and it was advertised in the Singles-Treff and on chringles.ch: "Return of the Conquerors. A Flirt Handbook for Christian Men". The two authors, Micha Betz and Andy Stark, come from the American pick-up scene, in which men explain to other men the best way to get women around. Now you have written a guide for men who treat women well and want to get married as soon as possible. A tightrope act. Because the "Nice Guys", the nice, helpful guys like the thousands in the churches, are not really successful with Christian women either. "The reason is that women - no matter how pious and filled with the Holy Spirit - are still women," the two authors explain at the beginning of the book. It's there in bold so that the insecure Nice Guys can't overlook it. And women "want to be desired and conquered, enchant a man and experience fulfilling sexuality".
The authors circumvented the subject of sex before marriage
But how do you approach the mysterious, pious beings? Above all, Betz and Stark recommend a miracle formula: C&F, cocky and funny. You should address women in a cheeky, funny and self-confident manner, as many as possible, you have to practice. And so they bring examples to twenty pages. Although there are quite a few phrases and embarrassments among them, one immediately notices: yes, that could work. The conquerors should learn not to take flirtation too seriously, to take the initiative and simply to provide a little entertainment. It sounds something like this: "Tell me, why are you walking around with this sweater? Did you lose a bet?" It continues with deliberate misinterpretation, role reversal ("So please, Madame, where is the decency? At least buy me flowers beforehand or take me out to dinner!") And over-the-top macho sayings ("Listen, woman, the Sultan demands." after you!").
And although Betz and Stark can not help bragging about their successes ("The next date took place on their couch"), they avoided the topic of sex before marriage as widely as possible. Because according to the ideas of the Freikirchler, that is just as unacceptable as looking for a same-sex partner on chringles.ch. Towards the end of the book, the conquerors also teach one or two macho lessons - for example, how to keep your girlfriend from dancing on you.
Happiness - and the way to get there - is fairly fixed in pious Christians. The engagement follows soon after getting to know each other, then the traditional family.
Myra could love a non-Christian man too
Myra suspects that this model doesn't really fit her. She is 35, a business consultant and, like many Christians, married young. However, the marriage did not last long. Since then she has become cautious and can hardly imagine giving up her freedom again. Myra has lived in many cities around the world and can now also imagine meeting a non-Christian man. Hardly anyone in her company knows that she is a believer. Myra speaks loudly and clearly and asks immediately if she doesn't understand something. Sit around and wait for a conqueror to speak to them? Unthinkable. Myra only gets quiet about one subject: "My sister had twins this year. She is two years younger than me. That hurt." Nevertheless, she is convinced: "I'm only 35 years old, I still have time."
Urs is twenty years older, 56. He's been coming to the singles club for ten years. Most of the women he met here just wanted his friendship - and his skills as a handyman. Some good friends call him regularly when the bike is broken or when a shelf needs to be hung. Besides, says Urs, he can listen well. He plays this strength the whole evening.
In the past he didn't want to commit himself, now he's lonely
"Do Christians Stay Single Longer?" is the name of one of the articles with which Matthias Röthlisberger wants to give life help on chringles.ch: If everyone around you gets married at your early 20s, you might feel like you're left with 25. Röthlisberger wants to encourage courage: If you are single at 30, you have many options and can shape your life freely. What if it's up to me? Pastor Birnstiel waves it aside: "We also have strange people here. But how many strange people are there who are married?"
This is no consolation for Martin, who is already 42 and soon wants to search the net. He tells of his time as a youth leader, when he still had "free choice" and did not want to commit. From the last eight years in which he was looking for a woman for life and suddenly the success did not materialize. He could tell even more about the loneliness that afflicts you in communities full of perfect married couples, the doubts as to whether everyone should marry at all. He'll get in touch, says Martin. But then he doesn't call anymore.
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