As I've been thinking about the Bachelorette and dating, I've had various ideas for activities I'd have the men do if I were on the show. I mentioned the foot washing, but I'd also have us do after school tutoring, a Habitat for Humanity (or something similar). I'd also thought that we should do something that's stress inducing (not like speed-dating with 15 men at once isn't stress inducing enough, but...) that would show how the men act under pressure. Are they leaders? Doers? Arguers? Someone who walks away? It's one thing to see how a man acts when he competes with other men for a woman, but it's another thing entirely (at least I like to think it would be...) to see his leadership skills and skills under pressure. I have yet to figure out what such an activity would be, but I'll keep working on it. As a pastor, I've also thought about doing Bible study together, or prayer group, or small group study, or having them read "The Five Love Languages" (which I talked about here.)
In reality, as intriguing as doing a show like this sounds, I really don't think I could do it. First, there'd be the constant nausea, second it's so rushed--who can make these sort of life decisions in six weeks (especially when you're not focused on just one person, but on a dozen), and third it's forced--there's so much expectation right from the beginning, like it's do or die. But, as I've had all these things rattling around in my head, I did think that it could be a cool young adult small/large group ministry. It could be about relationship building, and you bring in couples that are already dating (or are interested in dating) and meet once a week. On the odd weeks you do a small group study--it could be a Bible study, a book study, trust exercises, communication techniques, affirmation circles, etc. Then the even weeks you do a group date that includes romantic nights out, but also includes touch football, footwashing, tutoring, home (re)builds--stuff that shows you the character of the person you're dating and allows you to work together and see how that goes for you. It's one thing to frequent the movies and restaurants, it's a whole other bargain to figure out how to build a roof, or to deal with your fears or disgust for washing feet, to work in a group.
I've even thought that I could team up with the other UMCs in my area and we could do it together for planning, programming, and teaching and that if we had all 4 clergy involved, we could also advocate for 3 counseling sessions for each couple over a period of a couple months and the clergy could share that responsibility.
The only hang up I have in actually working on this ministry when I get to my church is that about 20 years ago there had been a couples' group and they didn't do so well with the 7th commandment, so I think there might be a lot of hesitation (with some good reason) for doing a ministry like this. Who knows?
I guess I'll keep it on my list of possibilities for the future of the church and just pray about them all and see where God leads us!