Dating and The Church

In my last post I talked about my journey over the past year to working on my faith. I said my next post would be about sex and dating within the Christian context, so here we go.

Last summer, after attending a few small group bible studies offered by my church (they’re more like book clubs, with the book being a Christian book of some sort), I was nominated to lead a small group for the Fall semester. I was nervous about being nonimated to lead a group so soon after getting back into the habit of attending church (this must be a mistake, didn’t they know I’m not a perfect Christian?), but I prayed about it. Since all Fall semester small groups are assigned the same book to read, I accepted the nomination because it would be the easiest way to get used to being responsible for a group of people’s spiritual growth for a few months.

Yes, that’s how they framed it in small group leader training.

All of a sudden I had a small flock of folks to pray for every day and check up on and make sure they weren’t falling through the church cracks. It may sound a bit extra, but it’s what I like most about my church: it’s big, yet small at the same time.

I did my best to steer this group, but I couldn’t help feel a little detached from our discussions. Even with study guides to help facilitate discussion, I felt a teeny bit bored by the content, but I loved the folks in my small group. It was then I decided the next time I led a small group, I would have a sexy book. Sexy as in, interesting and different.

Enter: dating and the church.

Boundaries In Dating
This book is a must-read!

I told myself that I would only do another small group if I were allowed to read the dating book of my choice, Boundaries In Dating. It’s not that the book is particularly racy, but it wasn’t on our regular book list. That’s why I was drawn to it even further. I wanted to talk about things most church folk didn’t talk about openly, regularly: sex and dating. It’s not that I am a rabblerouser, but I think there are areas in our lives where we don’t grow because we don’t really examine them close enough. As a Christian woman, I knew my dating life sucked and I didn’t feel supported in figuring out my dating life within a Christian community. And while I had a basic understanding of how sex in the bible worked (i.e. it’s only for marriage) I struggled with fully understanding how to apply this to my daily modern life. Also, I wouldn’t be able to win anyone over to Team Celibacy if I didn’t have a good grasp of what it was all about.

Anyway. Registration opened. I was elated to find my small group registration FILLED UP. Quickly. Most healthy small groups are about 8-10 people, but mine filled to capacity at 22 ladies within the first few weeks of registration. I was happy.

The book I chose was on point. It broke down my old and current dating issues. It gave me solid advice and things to do in my future dating life. I feel like I don’t need to read another dating book ever in life (not that I read many, but I own several for some reason).

Leading a dating small group was cool. I had 22 ladies to get to know as best as possible. I knew we all came from different walks of life with different upbringings and experiences. Some of us were single, some had boyfriends, some were divorced, and we ranged in age from early 20s to mid-40s. That’s what makes a group enriching, but the topic itself was tricky. The whole point of my group was to give women a (biblically-based) place to talk openly about their relationship issues without (Christianeze!) judgement, however, opening up to a group of strangers is tough. I was also afraid that as their leader, there would be a misconception that my dating/sex life was perfect, when it was so incredibly flawed.

In the end, everything worked out. There were a few weeks when the book talked about sexual purity and I felt nervous for the discussion. I think this is where I feel Christians get real Judgy McJudgerson, and I didn’t want anyone to feel judged for anything they’d done in the past (or for how they currently live). Typically I find that as a small group leader you have to share a lot in order to encourage others to share and so…the sharing of my failures was brutal. I’m already hard enough on myself, now I had to tell others about it too? And say it out loud? It was for the best though. The more I talk about my previous failures, the more I am able to get over them. Not to mention I have made some *awesome* friends during this process, and now they are able to reflect truth back to me when I veer off track.

As for what’s next…summer small group! I’ve recruited a co-leader this time around, and she is awesome. She keeps me in stitches and brings the best out of me. I am excited about leading this group with her if we can pull it off. In keeping with my tradition of a packed growth group and a racy topic, I think we are going to read a book (or books) about *drumroll* sexual purity. We’ve talked about dating, now let’s talk about sex. I like uncomfortable topics among Christians, and I think this is an important one. A big one. I think this issue keeps a lot of distance between God and Christians and I am all about finding ways to close that gap.

I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes.


20 thoughts on “Dating and The Church”

  1. I have followed you (No Stoker..LOL) since your website had the Hollywood Hills background and I must say that you’re showing a huge amount of growth over the past few years.

    Very impressive and Inspiring.
    Keep it Moving!

    1. Awww, thank you!!! Yes, right before I did this layout on a whim, I was thinking of retro-fitting that layout from Movable Type to WordPress because I loved it so!

      Thanks again for reading and keeping tabs on me 🙂

    1. 🙂 yes it’s great to read with other women! it also has a workbook that helps get you thinking more about how the book applies to your own life. Might wanna check that out too!

  2. You know what Liz, that’s what Christianity is about. Sharing your experiences and discussing how to apply our faith to daily living seems to be missing a lot. I love the fact that you ladies had an open discussion on such a taboo topic. One of my biggest frustrations is the whole judging thing. Glad you all were able to put that waaaaay in the background.

    1. Hopefully it worked 🙂 I know I could do more to make everyone feel welcome, so I look forward to improving in this area with my next group.

  3. lol @ judgy mcjudgerson!

    Thas whassup Liz. I admire your practical approach to both the faith and your life. I think that is often what’s missing from Christianity. People can’t relate. You attract more people with honey, than with vinegar. or sumthin like that. lol.

    1. LOL! You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar? lol I think that’s how it goes.

      And yes, I agree! Once I found a church that was strong with the Bible as well as relatable, I was sold! I think in the past I would go to churches that were either too shallow with little effort in getting people to READ the actual Bible, or way TOO BIBLICAL where we knew the ins and outs of scripture but nobody was applying this to their everyday lives. Balance and relating goes such a long way!

  4. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. Ditto to what everyone else has said about being open and honest about practical issues that many Christians face and coming together as the body of Christ to discuss and help one another deal with them.

  5. I loved your post. It’s just to bad that more people won’t realize that we are human and we strive to be better. Glad you are having success.

    1. 🙂 thanks!

      The perfection thing is troubling for me at times. On the one hand, by publicly proclaiming my faith, I know some people (non-Christians) look at me sideways when I am less than perfect, like perfection is possible. On the other hand I know some Christians try to position themselves as holier than thou, so I can see why non-Christians may be inclined to point a finger. It’s a Catch-22.

  6. Dang, chica I wish I was a part of that group. It sounds like just what we need, it seems the only time these things are discussed it is from the vantage point of a married couple telling you why you should wait when they are gutting it in every chance they get or by someone who is really judgmental because they have embraced celibacy for years but forget theta they are weak in other areas and tend to judge. You kow I am broke so I might have to come over and read a few chapters. I might suggest it for a a few woman at my church or possibly with my youth that I minister over. Way to grow!

  7. So I admit, I’m usually the too-cool-for-school type when it comes to dating/sex/church…ok, advice in general. But as I’ve been struggling to find a church in DC that’s not “extra,” if you will, I’m realizing that the separation from worship and fellowship is why I also feel so disconnected in other areas of my life. This book might be just cool enough. Thanks! 🙂

  8. I started following you on twitter after thoroughly enjoying you become more vocal on VSB. Liz this post is right on time for me as I have rededicated myself to my walk with God and dating is such a challenge for me right now. Thanks I really needed this.

  9. Liz,
    Have you ever thought about doing like webcast or have those that are interested join is someway. This sound awesome and something that I would like to do and be part of. But I am in MD

    Either way, this was awesome posting and get discussion. Thank you for sharing.

    **** Here’s a thought… Maybe I can join a church and do it here. uhmmm***

  10. This all sounds great but doesn’t all of this suggest using church as a means of selecting a boyfriend? Seriously I have questions about dating within the church. honestly I see it as a negative aspect of church and a detriment to Christian integrity, but it is practical. It doesn’t feel so great though when your bible study sudden becomes more couples and your still single, I have stopped going. The new bible study is becoming the same way but no marriages yet.

    1. Using *a* church for selecting a boyfriend is different from dating someone who is a Christian. I’ve met a lot of folks who would never want to date someone who goes to their church, for fear of dealing with awkwardness if the relationship doesn’t work out. That doesn’t mean they won’t date Christian men, just not the ones at their church. Makes sense to me.

  11. Will definititely be reading this book. I feel kinda bad…I had no idea you had your own thing going aside from VSB. Now I know… 🙂

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