Religion

'Mean Girls' Lacey Chabert Stars In 'Christian Mingle' Movie

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,451

We live in a crazy world. And at the moment, nothing is greater proof of that and the fact that there is a Christian Mingle movie.

Yes, that Christian Mingle. The dating website that promises devout singles it will "find God's match for you." Someone in Hollywood apparently thought that sounded like a rip-roaring good time of a rom-com, and here we are, wondering what led us to this strange and confusing place.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the lead role is played by Lacey Chabert, most notable for her turn as the ditzy Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls? It just gets better and better.

Allegedly there is also a plot. It follows Chabert’s character, a 30-something marketing executive named Gwyneth Hayden, whose life is perfect except for one thing: it's missing a man. In a moment of desperation, she joins the Christian Mingle dating site in hopes of changing her fortunes – even though she is not a Christian. Here’s a synopsis of the rest of the film:

“Gwyneth’s attempts at impressing her dream guy end in disaster when he calls her out on her ‘faux faith.’ In an honest realization, she sees her superficial life for what it really is, and she’s driven to create a personal relationship with God. In the end, He delivers on the true desires of her heart: ‘life-changing’ love.”

The director is Corbin Bernsen, an American actor known for a strange mix of television dramas, reality TV shows, and soap opera work. He began making religious films in 2010 and formed his own production company shortly afterwards. He also has one of the largest snow globe collections in the world because… well, why not?

Bernsen swears the film is not an advertisement or an endorsement of the Christian Mingle dating website, but…uh... I can't think of another reason for making this film, can you?

"You might ask why do include 'the movie' in the title?” Bernsen wrote on his Facebook page. “One of my first jobs is to let everyone know that this is a pure, straight up Romantic Comedy and NOT an ad or paid promotional piece for Christian Mingle.com – the popular dating website," Bernsen declared in a post on his Facebook page Friday.

 “They have been incredible partners and friends in allowing us to use their name and play an integral role in the film, but one of the first rumors I want you to help me dispel is that this is a commercial for them. Check out the trailer and you'll see...”

Well okay, Corbin… if that's what you say. You'll forgive me if I remain a little skeptical. Check out the trailer above and see for yourself.

Online Dating Company Spark Networks Is For Sale

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,086

Online dating is about to get a major shakeup. And when I say major, I really mean major. Spark Networks, which owns popular dating sites like JDate and Christian Mingle, has put itself up for sale and has at least one prospective suitor.

The big news comes on the heels of the company unexpectedly postponing its annual shareholder meeting in June, two days before it was scheduled. The move allowed Spark Networks to put its focus on the potential deal and to sidestep a board battle with its largest shareholder, Osmium. Things have been tense lately with Osmium, a San Francisco hedge fund that has been pushing for board seats over concerns that Spark has been neglecting to allocate sufficient funds for JDate while over-spending on Christian Mingle.

Spark has spent $120 million in direct marketing on Christian Mingle since 2011, which has helped grow Christian Mingle’s subscribers by almost 700 percent since 2010. Revenue is also up, from $45 million in 2008 to $70 million in 2013, but along with those efforts came dramatically increased costs as a percentage of revenue.

Meanwhile JDate, the most famous and lucrative site in the Spark Networks arsenal, looks to be going through a rough patch. According to Osmium, the Jewish dating site posted revenue of $6.1 million in the first quarter – its lowest level since 2006. Jewish subscribers have also declined to  2006 levels.

All of this is coming at the same time as big-time changes for the Spark Networks board. When the delayed annual shareholder meeting finally took place, four of the company’s six sitting directors were nixed, including Chairman and CEO Greg Liberman. The shareholders instead picked four directors nominated by – surprise! – Osmium. One of the two Spark directors who was re-elected, Thomas Stockham, resigned not long afterwards.

“The new board is eager to work alongside Spark employees with a renewed sense of urgency, accountability and focus, in order to drive increased shareholder value,” said Osmium’s founder and new Spark director John Lewis to the New York Post.

As for what’s happening with the sale of Spark Networks, everyone involved is remaining tight-lipped for now. The name of the prospective buyer has yet to be revealed, but the New York Post notes that “the world of online dating companies is small and currently dominated by Barry Diller’s IAC, which owns popular dating sites Match.com, OKCupid and Tinder.”

JDate’s CEO On What Makes The Site A Success And What The Future Has In Store

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,105

If anyone knows how to crack the code of online dating it’s Greg Liberman. Liberman has been president and CEO of Spark Networks since 2004, giving him more insight into the industry than almost anyone else in the biz. He spoke with The Forward in early February about the tremendous success of JDate, the Internet’s most popular Jewish dating service.

Liberman chalks the company’s success up to one simple thing: “this company was built out of a need.” And not just any need – one specific person's need. One of the founders had recently been divorced and was looking to expand his social circle of single Jewish women. Out of that quest, JDate grew organically.

Once the site had gotten its start, it set itself apart from the competition by creating a strong culturally focused community. “Religion is obviously at the core,” says Liberman, “but the majority of the members are Conservative and Reform and interested in a more culturally based identity.” The site provided a meeting place for Jewish singles who wanted to continue the traditions they were raised with, but weren't interested in a heavy emphasis on faith.

When asked how things have changed over the course of JDate’s history, Liberman nominates mobile dating as the decade’s biggest innovation. Mobile is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, and that includes our love lives. “We saw in 2013 a 114% increase in log-ins via mobile,” Liberman says of JDate. “People are connected all the time, and for us it’s really important. I mean, it’s a huge opportunity for us to continue to drive our mission.”

Mobile isn’t the only change in store for JDate. The site announced the launch of a new marketing campaign on Valentine’s Day 2014 that further stresses the “J” half of its name. The rebranding initiative – JDate’s first – is called “Get Chosen.” Liberman hopes that it will help strengthen the Jewish community and ensure that Jewish traditions are passed on for generations to come. He calls it a “fun, living, breathing campaign” designed to “remind Jewish singles of the cultural ties, not just the religious ones, that make dating, and ultimately marrying, someone else who is Jewish so special.”

The multi-platform campaign will begin immediately across various channels, including print, digital and social. In addition to adding the tagline “Get Chosen” to the logo, JDate revealed a new homepage design for the website. The company also plans to run digital billboards in New York’s Times Square and a street sign campaign throughout Chicago. Other creative elements, including television and web videos to support the “Get Chosen” theme, will roll out later this year.

Could a Religious Dating Site be for You?

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 894

There are so many options when it comes to dating and meeting new people. There are hundreds of online dating sites, and even more mobile apps launching every month. Some traditional sites like Match.com and OkCupid cater to a wide range of relationship-seekers, and some are geared mostly towards hook-ups like Tinder. Niche dating sites are also on the rise, and the ones gaining the biggest followings are religious sites.

JDate and Christian Mingle are two of the most popular sites for those looking to meet singles outside of their own networks. JDate provides a way for Jewish people to meet others who share the same beliefs, customs and culture, and depending on preferences, potential dates can be "not observant" to "conservative" or "orthodox." Christian Mingle is likewise for those singles who identify as Christians, with many levels of observance.

While some daters might shy away from meeting people on a larger website like Match.com, or are afraid that online daters won't share the same values that they have, religious sites provide a great alternative. While it's true that many people joining online dating sites aren't looking for long-term relationships, those who join religious sites are generally more interested in marriage and commitment than the average online dater. It's a good opportunity for those who are serious about their search.

But how do you know if a religious site is for you, especially if you don't regularly attend church or temple? And how do you go about explaining your religious beliefs to someone who might not be on the same page as you?

As religious sites become more popular (about five million people have joined Christian Mingle in only the last five years), there are varying degrees of religious practices and beliefs. Many singles get something from religious dating sites that they can't get from other online dating sites - like deeply-held values when it comes to dating and forming relationships. Some singles who sign up for JDate might not be practicing Jews, but they do want to form a relationship with someone who shares the same cultural background and who want to raise kids in the same way. Similarly, Christian Mingle has members who might not attend church on a regular basis but consider their relationship with God an important part of their lives and want to meet those who feel the same.

Religious beliefs vary from person to person - it's unlikely you'll find someone who feels the same way you do on every issue. But if religion and spirituality are an important part of your life it's good to pursue others who feel the same way. When you join a religious dating site, you're meeting other people who share your values, which is a very important part of forming a strong, lasting relationship.

ChristianMingle Gets The Film Treatment

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,106

I guess this is how you know you've officially "made it." A film is being made about ChristianMingle.com.

Appropriately named "Christian Mingle," the film is written and directed by Corbin Bernsen and will be produced by his production company, Home Theater Films. The new romantic comedy will partner with the ChristianMingle website itself, which holds the distinction of being the world's largest and fastest-growing Christian community.

The movie tells the story of Gweneth Hayden (played by Lacey Chabert best-known for her role as Gretchen Wieners in "Mean Girls"), a 30-something marketing executive who has a top-notch career, a killer wardrobe, her dream apartment and a fantastic circle of friends. In other words, she believes that the only thing missing from her otherwise-perfect life is a man (played by Jonathan Patrick Moore of "L.A. Complex").

In a moment of desperation, she signs up for ChristianMingle.com to find him. But her Christianity is more than a little rusty, and her attempts at impressing her dream guy end in disaster when he calls her out on her "faux faith." As a result, Gweneth comes to the realization that it's not her lack of a relationship that's keeping her from happiness, but rather her lack faith. She commits to leaving her superficial life behind and renewing her relationship with God. In the end, Gweneth gets what she wanted most: a "life-changing" love.

"'Christian Mingle' is about a young, modern, single woman. She's trying to achieve it all - a successful career, amazing friends and finding Mr. Right," Bernsen said. "She stumbles into the world of online dating looking for an instant 'soul mate solution,' but ultimately ends up taking a personal journey transforming her life."

"Our goal at Home Theater Films is to inspire and entertain our audience," Bernsen continued. "We want to make great movies that everyone can enjoy and elevate them with contemporary, relatable characters that naturally demonstrate their faith in real-world situations."

Other members of the case include Erin Bethea, who notably portrayed female lead Catherine Holt in the film "Fireproof," Stephen Tobolowsky ("Groundhog Day"), and John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld"). Behind the scenes, "Christian Mingle" is written and directed by Bernsen and produced by Chris Aronoff. Matt Swanson and Charlie Schafer serve as Executive Producers. The film will include music from Capitol Christian Distribution, who will also handle the home entertainment distribution.

Production began in Turlock, California, at the end of 2013 and will wrap in Los Angeles with the theatrical release planned for Spring 2014. To find out more about this dating site you can read our Christian Mingle review

The Origins of Speed Dating

  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,303

A recent article in The New York Times interviewed Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, whose name is not well-known in the dating world. But it should be.

Back in 1998, Rabbi Deyo was brainstorming with some friends in his L.A. living room about how he could best serve the local Jewish community. This group included many entertainment industry execs, including game show producers. When the subject of love and how to meet romantic partners came up, the concept for speed dating was born.

A few weeks later, the rabbi was at a local Coffee Bean blowing a whistle as couples table-hopped one to the next, spending ten minutes at a time talking to each person. Little did he know the impact it would have in the dating world.

Soon, speed dating started popping up everywhere. It was no longer just the rabbi's idea - others had taken hold of it and used it in their local towns and communities. Speed dating was even featured in an episode of Sex and the City, where it was exposed to millions of people who were interested in trying it.

Since then, speed dating companies have expanded around the world. While the popularity of speed dating has waned in recent years, it is still a concept that many people find intriguing, if fewer are willing to try.

As a former speed dating host, I saw my fair share of awkward first dates and conversations that were stilted. They informed me of how to be a more engaging date. I was also inspired by the many people who put themselves out there to find love.

Speed dating is an interesting way for single people to meet. Some think it works best to introduce people who come from a similar culture, background, profession, etc., who would find it otherwise hard to meet people of their same faith or occupation but who have something in common. It gets a little more complicated when an event is open to the public. There isn't much filtering that can be done at events, other than by age or location. So, you really don't have much control over the types of people you're meeting.

While this can be frustrating, it can also be liberating. You could meet someone that you'd never choose on an online dating site, but in person you hit it off. Also, it forces you to engage with people who aren't necessarily your type. Speed dating is a great way to get past all those hang-ups we have about who we "should" date. It shows you that there are many kinds of people in the dating world, and some of them may surprise you.