The Scoop: Christian singles throughout the United Kingdom practice their faith by attending church, among other means. But attending services is also a way they build community and meet potential partners who share their faith. But if that partner doesn’t attend their church, they may never meet, much less start a relationship. Friends1st was established to connect single Christians with others who share their values and interests. The organization’s philosophy is that the first step to a long-term relationship is friendship. Our readers can use the promo code DATINGNEWS to receive a 10% discount on a membership.
Many singles aren’t interested in the hookup culture or dating sites that produce quantity, not quality matches. Instead, they want to lay the foundation for a long-term, meaningful relationship.
That is especially true for Christian singles, who often approach dating with open hearts and don’t enjoy being judged by their photos than by their character. Most dating sites may seem to have plenty of options, but for many Christian singles, finding someone on predominantly secular sites who shares their values is hard.
Friends1st launched more than two decades ago to help single Christians in the UK connect without pressure. The organization is different from other sites that cater to singles who want to hook up or go on a whirlwind of many dates. Friends1st offers personalized assistance and suggestions, and members can focus on building the foundation for a real relationship. It all starts with friendship and understanding the role faith plays in relationships, said friends1st Founder Katharine Gray.
“I’m passionate about building the NB Kingdom of God to help single Christians to get together with other Christians who share their faith,” she said. “That is how we strengthen each other.”
Single Christians in the UK may attend church and pray to find the love of their lives while their ideal partner is doing the same thing at a church across town. In the face of stay-at-home orders throughout the world, Christians who prioritize their faith want to meet someone compatible.
Friends1st allows those singles to find each other even during these challenging times.
The Organization Started as a Church Challenge
In 1999, Katharine was working with the UK’s National Health Service when she decided to attend a Christian conference. That’s when famous theologian Elaine Storkey inspired her to start on a new path.
“She said there were challenges for single people in the church, and someone should really do something about it. At the time, I was working hard at a job, but I thought I could do something about that,” Katharine said.
Back in her hometown of Birmingham, she met with church leaders and researched the Christian events held in town. She realized that the community needed more practical ways to connect Christian singles for loving relationships. Priests and other faith leaders wanted to do more than pray for a person who was ready to find a loving partner.
Katharine started friends1st before dating apps became a mainstay, and it quickly gained popularity as Christians signed up to find friends who could grow into that special someone. The team works hard to get to know members individually, so the entire process is more personal, authentic, and faith-based.
Soon, Katharine said she began to focus on her new business full time. Friends1st rapidly grew beyond Birmingham, expanding throughout the UK and Ireland. Friends1st has been responsible for hundreds of marriages over the years, thanks to its unique, hands-on approach.
“I absolutely love my business. I love hearing the stories about people,” Katharine told us. “I enjoy seeing God answering prayer in that way, and God is working through us.”
Personalized Coaching for Faith-Based Partnerships
When members sign up to friends1st account, they can choose from four membership tiers. Each one is good for an entire year, which is different for singles accustomed to online dating platforms that charge a monthly fee. Katharine said the annual membership has a purpose.
“Dating is not like going to a furniture store and getting a table and chairs. It takes a lot of time, and there’s a process,” she said. “On many dating sites people make quick decisions, and they’re here today and gone tomorrow. That’s one of the frustrations of online dating. In our organization, we ask people to commit for a year so we can support them through the journey. That’s our service and why we’re successful in putting people together.”
Members can choose from silver, gold, platinum, or diamond level, with each option providing additional services. Each member receives help in crafting a compelling written profile that highlights elements of their personality that many Christians are too humble to boast about. They also attend a professional photo session, as a flattering and authentic profile photo is an effective way to attract other users to contact them.
“We verify that people are who they say they are. The dating industry is full of not very good profiles and not very good pictures, and sadly that’s what people judge each other on,” Katharine said. “We also offer a video profile, where people can do a short vignette to convey their character.”
Members benefit from one-on-one, individualized consultations with a dating expert who coaches them to overcome any past obstacles. They can also access additional tips through books and other resources.
Friends1st: Christians of All Ages are Welcome
Katharine said friends1st members range in age from their 20s to their 90s. The organization has singles of all ethnicities and many different life stages — including young singles and widows.
Members can choose to go by a nickname to maintain their privacy, and Katharine said she reviews each profile before it goes public. The team also keeps in touch with every member to offer support on their journeys to find fellow Christians for lasting relationships.
Sometimes, new friends may be different than users imagine. Katharine said she remembers one man who lived in Scotland and was upset because he only wanted to meet someone who was of the same ethnicity who lived in Glasgow. He called to complain but didn’t end his membership.
About nine months later, she got another phone call from him. As it turned out, he had connected with a woman of a different ethnicity who lived in London — and they had recently decided to get married.
“The rest is history,” Katharine said. “That happens all the time. The fact that our members are genuine, our niche is for just Christians, and we’re supportive — that makes a difference.”
DatingNews readers can receive a 10% discount on membership by using the promo code DATINGNEWS.