Today as John and I visited a new church, I couldn’t help but think how visiting new churches is kinda like, can be a lot like, dating.
No, I’m not nuts.
Think about it. Most people when they first start visiting a new church go into it with a little trepidation but a lot of hope. Same thing when people start dating someone new. Most people I know don’t go into a new dating situation thinking it’s going to be bad, right?
Another way they’re similar is how people act. Most people when they visit a new church tend to dress up a little, even if they know the church is casual. They put their best face forward and are all smiles during the first couple of visits. Same way with dating, of course. It’s not that people lie, they just try to present their best.
The biggest way I think they are similar, however, is in who one should date and the kinds of churches one should visit. I’ve always heard when I was growing up that a person shouldn’t date someone they would never marry. I never understood that until I started dating and found myself a decent handful of big-time frogs before meeting John.
What I’ve learned is, you should never date a person that you know has certain qualities you wouldn’t want in a mate. This doesn’t mean you are destined to marry the person or even that you’re looking to get married. But things happen in a dating relationship, people sometimes end up making bad decisions based on a feeling. It’s not good to date someone you know has qualities you would never be able to live with.
To me, this is pretty much the same in a church. If you know a church has something about it that you know you would never be willing to be a member, it’s probably not wise to keep visiting. I’m not saying visiting a church or even long-term attendance at a church should lead to membership. But to know from the get-go that it’s not an option because you find something about their doctrine unBiblical to me says it’s not a good idea to attend there in the first place.
There is one caveat with this that John brought up. What if God leads you to such a church? Yeah, it can happen. Sometimes God leads us to places (or tells us to stay in a place) that we have no obvious sign of WHY he wants us there. In that case, if God is clearly telling us to go somewhere, we should go. We have to seek God’s will in the matter.
The same is with dating. Although I don’t think God would lead us to date someone we shouldn’t be with, I do think this last situation brings out the most important similarity between dating and church visitation.
No matter what, it’s important to seek what God wants and to actually DO it.