Pruitt believes such connections can enhance missions. She said cross-cultural ministry features a mobile lifestyle and few financial rewards, yielding a small population. "It is difficult to meet other singles who share a deep calling to missions," she said. "Existing sites can be helpful tools, but they do not narrow the selection process. Many singles feel like they are looking for a needle in a haystack."
But Matt Green, vice president of communications with Pioneers, said concern for finding a spouse ranks below concerns about cultural barriers, debt, raising adequate support, parental objections, and clarity of calling. "I think that for some singleness is a factor," said Green. "However, globalization, internet dating, improved communications and more accessible travel have changed things. Gone are the days of people heading off to the mission field, never to be heard of again."
Nevertheless, Green is glad to see the site, which he says numerous missionaries believe is a useful tool.
Pruitt adds a cautionary note, though, calling "internet dating" a myth that can never replace the value of long-term contact. Western culture typically defines healthy, long-term contact as one to two years. But whatever the time frame, she said, those who meet through Called Together must test their calling by spending time in the same city. "There is no substitute for long-term dating," said Pruitt. "If the dating individuals are older, this is especially true, because older persons are not going to change much to help amend differences. For older singles, there is a different type of challenge that marriage presents."
While he realizes this site isn't the sole solution to challenges facing missionaries, St. Claire said even non-believers are searching for alternatives to the "serial-dating method" in order to find a spouse.
Over the past century, the percentage of single American adults has skyrocketed from 3 percent to 40 percent, which indicates systemic problems, said St. Claire. He also said that while church communities help bridge some of the resulting gaps, few friendships last like family. "Psalm 68:6 says, 'God sets the lonely in families,' so we must also make it one of our goals to effectively set the lonely in committed communities, marriages, and families," said St. Claire. "We're one small attempt to work toward this objective."