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Scare stories create a disproportionate fear of the dangers of internet dating and of meeting strange people.The suggestion that online dating is unbiblical, or may go against God’s purposes or interfere with His plan for their lives, has also discouraged many.It’s not limited to younger people – those over the age of 55 are increasingly going online to meet people, while those aged 16-24 favour dating apps (on their phones). So it’s no surprise that many Christians join dating websites in the hope of finding love.

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Statistics are hard to come by in the UK, but in the US, the percentage of people who met their husband or wife in church has dropped from 15% in 1940 to less than 2% today.

In the UK, the church landscape is largely characterised by small churches that have little regular contact with other Christian communities, so people just aren’t getting the opportunities to meet potential partners.

However, most people view dating websites merely as a tool to widen their social circle and bring them into contact with those they wouldn’t normally cross paths with.

When Christian Connection was launched over 15 years ago, letters were sent to thousands of vicars, pastors and ministers to alert them to this new service for believers.

Success stories also encourage people to be open to online dating as part of God’s purpose for their lives.

However, church leaders should be aware that dating websites aren’t for everyone.They include: Single Christians say that their church leaders don't always understand online dating and are unable either to advise or encourage them. You can now with confidence discuss, advise, pray for and support those thinking about online dating.By Jackie Elton and Catherine Francis The chances are, as a church leader, you’ve married couples who met online – even if you weren’t aware of it.Our research showed that church leaders are considered helpful if they support single adults in meeting others with a view to dating.While church leaders can’t be expected to act as matchmakers, there are practical steps they can take to help singles to widen their Christian social circle.Meanwhile, online dating has boomed in the last 15 years, and now nearly a third of new relationships start online.

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