Church Dating Culture

What Does Christian Dating Look Like? Pt.2

Church Dating Culture

In part 1 we looked at what Christian dating shouldn’t look like. In part 2, we will now explore what Christian dating should look like, and discover some of the things that it should be. We are unpacking what it should involve in order to make sure we are enjoying it, treating people well, and building God-centred relationships. 

Part 1 of this post looked at what Christian dating isn’t, and examined some of those assumptions and practices that I think can be unhelpful. It said that Christian dating isn’t: A Seven-Step Plan, Something to Rush, and For People Who Pray More.

This blog will begin to look at what Christian dating is, and what it should look like so that Christian dating doesn’t feel so hard. It’s important to realise how we can thrive, and bring mutual fulfilment. 

So when people ask me what Christian dating is, I am keen to highlight that it should look like we are: 

  • Loving Our Neighbour
  • Following What The Bible Says 
  • Being Active
  • Fostering Mutual Enjoyment

Loving Our Neighbour

This might seem like it should be obvious, right? But it can be easy to forget and harder to apply. (Read Does Christian Dating Go Against God’s Views On Relationships?)

Jesus clearly wanted his followers to love their neighbours and love the people around them. He wanted us to relate lovingly to people and be other person focused. Yet our society says that when it comes dating, we need to think about ‘me me me’.

Society says we only need to think about ‘my needs’ and what ‘I want’. This is one of the biggest problems because inevitably, unkind behaviour follows.

We should be dating in a way that isn’t just thinking about number one

We’re told by God to be people that put other people first. That doesn’t mean being a doormat, but it does mean that we should be considering the feeling and wellbeing of the other person, which is often lacking when it comes to Christian dating. 

We should be dating in a way that isn’t just thinking about number one, but is moulded by this core principle of loving our neighbour in this context. 

Following What The Bible Says 

As a Christian, I believe the Bible should be guiding us. But let me make it clear, the Bible doesn’t talk directly about dating. When the Bible was written, dating didn’t exist.

But that doesn’t mean the Bible is irrelevant. It does talk about romance, and friendships, and how we should relate to others. By exploring what it does say, what it says about relationships in general, we can use it to discover principles to navigate the new phenomenon of dating. 

God’s word is able to transform culture and bring real fulfilment. It may not give black and white advice for dating, but it’s still relevant to relationships. (Read What The Bible Will And Won’t Tell You About Dating)

Being Active

One of these principles is what I call Activeness. Being active is fundamental when it comes to Christian dating. If we wait for God to bring us ‘the One’, if we wait for Him to sort out the mess because we believe relationships should ‘just be easy’, then we won’t approach dating from a position of strength. 

I truly believe God wants us to learn how to become a better friend, and church member, and disciple, and co-worker. He is involved in the process and helps us through his spirit, but he doesn’t wave a magic wand to make us ‘perfect’. 

I think dating is no exception to this principle. 

God wants us, with His help, to be active. To be involved. To be a more intentional follower. To be a participant when it comes to building better relationships. 

Fulfilment… comes when we are involved in the process

Fulfilment isn’t reached by stumbling into an ‘easy perfect relationship’ (which doesn’t exist by the way). It comes when we are involved in the process, and learning to build something worth having. 

Christian dating should involve activeness, and not just waiting, but involve making healthy God-centred choices. (Read One Great Dating Tip From Ruth and Boaz. Really?)

Fostering Mutual Enjoyment

I also believe God wants us to enjoy dating, but not at other people’s expense. 

Society tells us to become so consumed by ‘my happiness’, that we can forget relationships involve two hearts, two minds, and two people. Christian dating should focus on mutual enjoyment.

Christian dating should fundamentally be more appealing

There is no room for abuse, for unkind break-ups, or using people for our own needs. It’s about mutual flourishing. And learning to build something worth having together. Putting each other’s needs first. (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships).

Imagine If…

Imagine if we made sure Christian dating was God-centred, based on his principles and hopes for us. It isn’t easy, it isn’t always straightforward, but Christian dating should fundamentally be more appealing and more attractive than what the world offers. 

Christian dating should look like we are: Loving Our Neighbour, Following What The Bible Says, Being Active, Fostering Mutual Enjoyment. (Read Who Else Wants Great Relationships? Why Dating Well Still Matters.)

Why do you think Christian dating should be different? Comments welcome below

Originally posted 27/5/2019

What Does Christian Dating Look Like? Pt.1

Church Dating Culture

Many people still ask me this question. They want to know how dating should be different among Christians, and/or why it feels so hard, and/or why Christian dating seems to involve people treating others badly. I believe it should be different, and God wants us to do it differently. So in part 1, we will unpack what Christian dating isn’t.  

Thinking about how to date well has been a big part of my thinking for a while now. I get excited when I deliver a talk or write a blog and people chat with me or leave feedback afterwards to say that it helped them, that it’s caused them to think differently, or understand where God fits in more.

However, I also get people saying that their experience of dating involves hurt, and sometimes being let down by other Christians, which is really upsetting.

So what is Christian dating? What should it look like?

Core Principles

While opinions vary, and not everything can be said in a two-part blog, I do want to highlight some key principles. I really believe we as Christians should try to follow these in order to: protect ourselves and each other, make God central to our search, and allow us to create mutual enjoyment in our relationships.

As I think about what I really try to highlight when people ask me about this, taking into account all my years of experience, I think it’s best to stress that Christian dating isn’t:

  • A Seven-Step Plan
  • Something to Rush
  • For People Who Pray More

A Seven-Step Plan

Christian dating, or any dating, isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. No formula can promise that if you do ‘X Y Z’ you are guaranteed a ‘happy ending’.

I always prefer to talk about principles rather than ‘rules’ or ‘steps’, because they are too rigid, and we are all different and unique. We all have different hopes, fears, and experiences. (Read Warning: Dating Is Not A Simple Seven Step Process).

So one principle may be applied differently to someone who has been on a lot of dates, compared to someone who has been in a relationship for a few years, compared to someone who has gone through a bad break up, or someone who has never been on a date. Nevertheless, the same principles can be made relevant to different situations.

Dating isn’t easy, and it can’t be reduced to a seven-step plan

Dating isn’t easy, and it can’t be reduced to a seven-step plan that belittles the confusion many people face as they date.

I find that people who just give rules and plans often end up only helping a specific group of people. Whereas principles can help everyone, and help us all engage and evaluate our situation and approach.

Something to Rush

In church, dating can often be seen as something to rush through. Due to the fact that marriage is held up so high, this ideal can unintentionally communicate to those that aren’t married that they ‘haven’t arrived yet’.

But I think dating is a relationship that can honour God in and of itself. The way we treat each other can add value to our lives and for those we date, and be an example of how God’s Kingdom is transforming the ‘norms’ of our surrounding culture.

Dating should be about a time where you get to know each other. It’s time to let them see the real you and vice versa, to decide if you want to take that next step of commitment (E.g. go on a second date, or become an official couple, or eventually to marriage.) (Read How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’)

And it is meant to be enjoyed!

Rushing it, rushing to the next stage, will not help us get to know each other. The pressure to put a ring on it will not make it less confusing, it will only mean that we won’t be able to enjoy getting to know someone and falling in love. We need to remember dating has value, and there is no need to see it as just a ‘step’ to marriage.

For People Who Pray More

Good dating, ‘successful’ dating, doesn’t happen to those people who pray more.

So often people say things like ‘pray more and you will find someone’. Or people think they need to pray for God to show them ‘The One’. I think this is dangerous and can make us feel angry with God, or ourselves, if things do not happen the way we want. (Read Will God Answer My Prayers About Who I Should Date?)

Dating is not about praying enough to convince God

God wants to be involved, and wants us to learn how to ‘make the One’, rather than ‘find the One’. Christian dating isn’t about praying enough to convince God to help us out. (Read Why I Chose To Reject Finding ‘The One’)

Imagine If…

Part 2 looks at some key principles around what Christian dating is, and what Christian dating should look like. For now, imagine if we turned down the noise and reminded ourselves dating is valuable in itself, to be enjoyed and not rushed, and God has a better plan than we could hope for which involves us being part of the search.

Christian dating isn’t: A Seven-Step Plan, Something to Rush, or something For People Who Pray More (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating.)

Do you think Christian dating is valued or not? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 20/5/2019

Will God Answer My Prayers About Who I Should Date?

Church Dating Culture, Finding A Date

I believe God wants to be involved in our dating lives and wants us to enjoy finding someone and falling in love. I think God wants to be involved when it gets messy too, giving help and support. But I don’t think any of this means we should ask him to show us ‘the One’. If we’re praying this prayer then we’ll be disappointed, but we can pray for other things.  

I really don’t believe in ‘finding the one’ myth. I think it robs us of God’s better plan for us. I firmly believe God wants us to be involved in ‘making the one’ and bringing discipleship into dating. (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated) 

It isn’t about sitting on the bench wondering ‘why haven’t I been picked yet’, but getting involved in the game. Asking about what type of person we would say yes to and why, learning to communicate well, learning to argue well, and realising what healthy relationship expectations are.

But this doesn’t mean God is forgotten. I think we still need to pray about it and involve him. Waiting for ‘the one’ means we think God will do all the work, ‘making the one’ means we think we will do it with him. (Read How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’.)  

Where Does Prayer Fit In? 

So where does prayer fit in then? What should we be praying for? I think there are 3 key things we should ask for if we’re dating someone, and wondering whether to commit more to the person in front of us. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I always say we should pray that God allows us to: 

  • See Behind The Masks 
  • Highlight Our Real Values
  • Remember It’s A Good Gift 

See Behind The Masks

I always use the word ‘dating’ to cover a wide range of stages. Whether we’re looking at online profiles, meeting someone for the first time, or celebrating our 3 year ‘official couple’ anniversary, I always say dating mainly comes down to this question: ‘Do I want to invest more into the person in front of me?’

The answer to this may be ‘no’, and that may happen after one date or after a few months. Yet if it’s a series of yeses, it will lead to a long-term relationship, and maybe even marriage.   

What I think this means, is that we date in order to really get to know the person in front of us, and vice versa. A successful relationship isn’t about wearing a mask to impress, or hiding who we are, but about creating settings where we can be honest and real, and really getting to know each other.

This is hard, especially if we’ve been hurt before. Asking God for the courage to do this and for wisdom to show us when people aren’t doing this, is really important. As well as patience, so that we don’t reveal too much too quickly before appropriate levels of trust are built.

Highlight Our Real Values

I heard someone say the other day about how his wife loves snowboarding more than anything, and going out and partying. He hated doing both. He said ‘If compatibility is just about hobbies, we wouldn’t be together’. 

People often think that compatibility is about having shared interests, but that stuff really isn’t the most important thing. It’s really about sharing deeper values and the vision for your lives. 

This is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained

If the deeper things line up, and the things which mean the most to you in your lives are in sync, then this is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained. 

Some of us are still working out what our deeper values and vision are, but praying that we understand ourselves more and what God is wanting us to priorities in our life, will make it easier for us to spot common values in others too. (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?)

Remember It’s A Good Gift

While being intentional, thinking things through, having the hard chats to define the boundaries, and being respectful, are all vital in dating, we need to remember that relationships are a blessing from God. 

They’re meant to be enjoyed. 

Often I find people can focus so much on the serious side that they forget God wants us to enjoy falling in love. It’s meant to be a blessing. 

Praying for the strength to have the chats and defining expectations is needed, but also pray that we’re able to relax with each other and just discern if we enjoy each other. It will help us discover if we want to commit more. This is something we can ask God to help with. 

Imagine If…

We’re constantly told in church to learn about becoming a better friend. To learn to make more sacrifices, be there to help them, etc. We’re told to do the same with family, work colleagues, and our community. We should think through how we could love them more and act on it. 

I don’t think dating is any different. 

Bring discipleship into dating

Imagine if we remembered to bring discipleship into dating as well, and prayed to God to help us learn to date well, as we searched for and found someone to commit to. (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?)

I pray that you know God is invested and cares about your search, and he wants you to grow and be involved in the dating process.

What do you think about praying for these things? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 22/10/2018


How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’. Part 2

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

In Part 2 of this post, we begin to explore what taking steps towards ‘Making The One’ may look like. It will not be the same for every person and every couple, but a different and new mindset can help us begin to build healthy relationships based on mutual enjoyment and less confusion. 

I’m humbled and pleased that one thing many people tell me after hearing my talks or reading my book, is that they are glad someone is saying that you don’t need to be perfect in order to be in a relationship. That dating is about two flawed people committed to putting the effort in and trying to make it work. 

They are relieved that I don’t say ‘follow these seven steps to happiness’. As if there is a simple formula that will ‘sort’ us out. As I said in Part 1, we need a different approach.

Helps us to start ‘Making The One’ 

Thinking about how we approach relationships, remembering that we need to put in the hard work, remembering that it should be fun and respectful, helps us to start ‘Making The One’.  And can stop us waiting, or pretending we’re perfect and just hoping to bump into that other perfect person. 

(The following extract is taken from page 28-29 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Making Sure We Grow

In rare instances, God might point out the person you’re going to marry. And if he does, good stuff! But most of the time, he’s more interested in who you’re becoming, not just who you’re dating. 

We are going to be exploring some incredible truths God has for you. If God helps you to grow in confidence in this area or teaches you the keys to understanding commitment, he is guiding you towards any future relationship just as much as if he had told you your future spouse’s name and address!

Making It About ‘Us’ Not just ‘Me’

Learning to be less self-centred in a dating relationship is one of the ways God can help you to become relationally intelligent and able to serve others – whether you marry them or not!

God knows that relationships aren’t always easy. Beginning to share parts of your world with someone else can feel a bit uncomfortable at times. So he wants you to be prepared, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Making It About Not Being Perfect

Zack got married a few years ago. His marriage is everything he hoped it would be, but recently he told us how difficult the first year was. Nothing had prepared him for how much he was about to discover of his own flaws. 

Counselling has helped him come to terms with insecurities that had gone undetected or unchallenged throughout his life. But his one regret is that he waited until he was married before he looked at who he was and what he had to offer anyone in a relationship.

A relationship you need to work at is no less a gift from God

The ‘perfect relationship’ mantra might inadvertently make us think that, when our relationship hits hard times or doesn’t always feel amazing, it’s a sign that we aren’t with ‘the one’ God has for us. We might even think that, if we’re not convinced we want to marry someone ten minutes into the relationship, we shouldn’t keep dating.

‘Making The One’

A relationship you need to work at is no less a gift from God. A relationship that doesn’t begin with a commitment to getting married any time soon is no less valuable in God’s eyes. You might end up discovering a greater appreciation for each other that will grow into the deep love needed for a strong relationship. 

You’ll discover how working through difficulties gives you an increased resilience and capacity for forgiveness. These are vital tools for building marriages that last. 

I really believe God cares about this area, and he wants us to be involved in the process

More importantly, if we date in a way that allows our character to grow in selflessness and maturity, then even if the relationship doesn’t work out, it will honour God. Isn’t that better than thoughtless dating or waiting for God to sort everything out? (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

No one can promise you a relationship is around the corner. No one can promise you there won’t be any low points. But I really believe God cares about this area, and he wants us to be involved in the process and grow as people, and as a couple if and when that happens. 

Imagine if we made it less about waiting for ‘The One’ to appear, and made it about us getting the right perspective, learning how to build good foundations, and remember to enjoy it, I think we can be part of building an amazing dating culture.  (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating)

What else would help us start ‘Making The One’? Comments welcomed below.   

Originally posted 3/9/2018

How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’. Part 1

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Many believe that if we wait long enough, or pray hard enough, we will just bump into our soul mate and that perfect person one day. But I think ‘Making The One’ is not only realistic (I don’t believe in ‘Finding The One’), it’s a better way to do it and brings real fulfilment. This two-part article begins to explain what this may look like. 

A good friend of mine, who I’ve spoken to lots about dating and relationships, has recently started dating someone. It’s been a good few months now, they seem very happy together, and it seems to be going well.

In amongst all of the highs and whirlwind romance, they have had to have honest conversations. They have had to learn about each other’s personality flaws, how they annoy each other, how they need to communicate, and what they should and can be expecting from their relationship. 

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues, and this means they are able to enjoy their new relationship more.

They decided to work at ‘Making The One’, in an enjoyable, respectful, and honest way, and seem much happier because of it. It may work out long term, it may not, but they have built good foundations and managed to reduce the confusion along the way. As well as grow together and individually. 

Before we explore what ‘Making The One’ looks like, we need to realise this idea may be different from what we normally get told. 

(The following extract is taken from page 26-28 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)


Maybe you’re not expecting perfection in life or love. And maybe you’re not expecting God to give you a message in a bottle about who you should date. You just want to find someone you could possibly consider getting married to. 

So what part do you see God playing in that? How do you handle the challenges and possible confusions thrown up by dating? 

Looking For Something Different

One friend recently told us of her less-than-ideal first date with a man she was hoping might be Mr Right, only to find that he ‘turned up for the date with a tub of melted ice-cream in hand and a tacky oil painting from Marbella of boats in a harbour as a gift, and proceeded to tell me “just to clear the air” that he categorically did not believe women should preach, and that he was a good date compared to some!’

A friend and I once invited a couple of girls out to a fireworks display. The girls thought that a massive group of us were going, but we had ‘forgotten’ to tell them that it was a double date.

I was pulling out all my best chat-up lines and turning on the charm, so naturally, I was convinced that one of them liked me. The next day, just as I was about to ask her out, her boyfriend came up to me and introduced himself.


Looking For Help

Relationship-status confusions, clumsy comments, feeling too shy to truly be yourself all seem to be part of the pre-marriage relationship stage that we are left to navigate on our own. In researching this book, we’ve met people who feel really hopeful for their futures, as well as those who are hurt and confused by broken relationships. 

Wanting to know what God thinks about their relationships is a theme that runs through lots of these conversations. We’ve also come up against some pretty strange ideas about dating. 

God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships

We’ve met Christians who believe that any form of pre-marriage romantic relationship is dishonouring to God; Christians who have developed a nervous tic around checking wedding ring fingers; Christians so crippled by sexual sin that they believe they don’t deserve a loving relationship; Christians who believe that their ‘romantic-God’ has their ideal guy/girl just waiting for them.

There seems to be so much confusion around dating that often gets in the way of discerning God’s guidance about our relationships.

The good news is that God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships. He wants us to surrender every area of our lives to him, so that he can transform it for his glory. The question is: how? (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated)

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

Imagine if, instead of wondering if God has forgotten to introduce us to our ‘perfect-match’, if we have done something wrong, or if we are waiting for God to make it happen, we decided to be involved in the process. (Read Stories From The Dating Scene: God (Sort Of) Found Me ‘The One’)

Read Part 2 here, which begins to explore what taking steps towards ‘Making The One’ may look like. 

Do you think the idea of ‘Making The One’ is helpful? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 27/8/2018