The “Friend Zone”

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No one is happy.

The ladies say the guys won’t ask them out.

The guys say the ladies stay in their social circles and won’t come out. No one is on anyone’s romantic radar.

Welcome to the Friend Zone. It’s a place that single adults find themselves at almost every church event. Sure, there are people that blast through the friend zone and find their mate through church, but more and more singles are frustrated by the “dating within the one place it’s best” to find a spouse.

So how does it happen? How can so many eligible people, with similar beliefs and values, AND the desire to date, be around each other for so long without ever developing relationships?

It’s simple and complex all at the same time.

First, let’s address it from the guy’s perspective. Guys want to pursue dating relationships with the girls. They want to find “her”. Despite what the ladies think, they are not scared of girls. That’s the simple part.

It gets complex from there. There is a dating shelf life in any singles group. Guys can only ask out a certain number of girls before they are branded a “player” in the singles group. And that’s the best thing they can be branded. The other brand is much more damaging. “Creepy”. Creepy guys are done…finished. They are the ones that girls warn other girls about before they even darken the door.

For the guys, they spend their entire time trying to figure out which girl they should pursue and how they will be branded by the group based on their actions. If a guy messes this up and is viewed poorly by the girls he is damaged. Sometimes irreparably.

From the ladies perspective, they aren’t going to pursue the guy. And they shouldn’t have to. Many of them are interested in dating, but unfortunately their pool of selection is small. Male leadership in the church is lacking at all ages and they aren’t going to waste their time with guys that won’t step up and show spiritual leadership within their group.

And why should the ladies waste their time? If these guys can’t step up in leadership in the church, how will they ever do it in the home? Showing boldness, in the minds of the ladies, begins with stepping up and asking them out.

So we find ourselves in the friend zone. We find ourselves in a place where guys won’t pull the trigger on asking a girl out because he’s afraid he’s going to get blackballed, or because another guy has called “dibs” on asking a girl out. And we find the ladies frustrated because of the lack of real mature men that want to not only ask them out, but more importantly the lack of men that are serious about their spiritual life. We end up having large singles groups of people that aren’t dating but hang out all the time as friends. They will then refuse to move into a dating relationship with someone in their group because “it’s just too weird” or “I don’t want to mess up our friendship” or “I think of him/her like a sibling”.

Breaking out of this is going to be tough, but here’s how we do it.

Guys, step it up. First, focus on your spiritual life. You don’t have to stop dating to do this. It’s a journey and you’ll never reach perfection. Don’t wait on perfection. Second, find the ONE girl that is special to you. Be a man and ask her out.

Ladies, give the guys a chance. Don’t gossip with your girlfriends about the guys and do everything in your power not to “brand” the ones that are genuinely trying.

It’s a two way street.

– Author Will King

Lady Porn

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Ladies, don’t think you are immune to the trap of pornography. According to XXXChurch.com, 49% of women found pornography an acceptable way of expressing sexuality. Thirteen percent of women admit to viewing pornography at work and one of every three visitors to porn websites are women. Even worse, 34% of church-going women admit to looking at pornography.

This is not a conversation about whether a novel you might have read is a version of porn. No, this is a reality that graphic erotica is gripping females just as it does males, and the stats show this issue is on the rise.

Porn is a Lie.

In Romans 7, Paul talks about the desire to do good but still falling into sin, until the power of the cross takes over your life. As a single adult, you may think that looking at pornography is okay since you are not in a relationship. We have even heard singles say it is acceptable because they may never find someone and that is an outlet for them. But, Matthew 5:28 tells us that even looking at someone in lust is committing sin in our hearts.

Hebrews 12:4 says, ”In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” It is a sin, and yes, the Lord expects you to live a life free of pornography. Have you truly resisted in your fight with pornogrphy? To the point of shedding your own blood?

As a single adult male or female, one day you may find someone and enter into a relationship. Your choices as a single regarding lust and pornography will be an issue. Marriage does not fix lust and addiction to pornography.

It is a heart issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. If you need help with breaking this addiction, please visit xxxchurch.com for resources and internet-accountability tools. But, remember, there is NO internet accountability tool that can keep someone from finding pornography. But there is the strength of Christ to avoid seeking it.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

Take a stand in your heart and before God, then find an accountability partner to make it “Not an Option.” Make porn “Not an Option” in your life and walk in a new light, free from the darkness of pornography.

I Fell in Love with an Atheist

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There is no way to dice it or dance around it. I loved an atheist. I loved him with every fiber of my being. Had it not ended, I might have loved him more than I love God.

In total transparency, my ex still has a small piece of my heart, that tiny shoebox in the corner of a heart where first loves and tacos live. Our “relationship” was a roller coaster of poor judgment, horrible communication, brilliant times full of laughter, sweet sincerity, highs, and lows. Conversation rarely revolved around God but, when the topic arose, it was like a round of tug-o-war.

I didn’t know he was atheist when we first started dating. I thought he was simply jaded and wayward. He was a music director at a church, his family was deeply rooted and involved. Having been raised in the church, he knew the political childishness that can happen within church walls filled with sinful humans. It never crossed my mind that he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t share the same heartbeat for Jesus that I did.

When the truth came to light, the hopeless romantic in me believed he would return to God. I was in his life to help him see the light. It was all God’s divine appointment. I believed God put me in his life to help him. Deep down inside he had to believe, right?. He HAD to. Feeling we were meant to be together, I fervently prayed for his salvation. He opened a part of my heart that had been closed for a long period. I thought we couldn’t NOT be together.

After the last round of relationship lows, I realized what was happening. I had created a false god out of this man and our “relationship” (Exodus 20:3). I had put my desires, my heart, my treasures for this man over my desire for God. I was trying to serve two masters but failing the most important one (Matthew 6:19-24). I was delivering loaded selfish prayers to God and ignoring every conviction and warning sign He laid in front of me. It became clear. I knew what I had to do.

My prayers shifted to a focus on God. I prayed for God’s will and for God to either change his heart or knowing it would break my heart, take him out of my life. And it happened. My heart shattered.

I spiraled to a lonely place, feeling worthless, and angry at God. He had put all this love and excitement in my life only to rip it away. My conversations with God consisted solely of prayers for loved ones. None for me, not for my anger and broken heart. But He was there, waiting for me to be done with my temper tantrum.

I made the choice to trust and give my heart back to God. He handled the rest. My heart softened, I grasped two important truths:

1. God shows me countless amounts of infinite selfless love every single day. Every morning I open my eyes, I’m reminded of God’s eternal love.

2. My heart will mend because it belongs to the most trusted Physician.

When my ex moved on, I reflected on God’s protection from mistakes that could have had life long consequences. With God’s love, I made it through the heartbreak stronger and wiser. I thank my ex for the good times and being the one God used to show me I have the capacity to love at a high level. It’s the reason my ex holds a small place in my heart shoebox.

Now, I focus on building my relationship with God. Like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but He’s always right there, always. He loves and guides me through every low and celebrates with me at every high. My relationship with Christ is the most important I have. Grounded in His truth, I know it is the foundation for all other relationships (Matthew 22:37-38).

-Crystal

Will God Still Love Me After an Abortion?

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She’s in your ministry. She’s had an abortion. She wonders, will God love her again? As believers, we are passionate about saving the unborn, but that passion fails to communicate our love for the mothers. The good news is that in the last two decades there has been a substantial drop in abortions. The other news is people have had or still choose to have abortions, and the church needs to be ready to minister to these women.

According to the CDC, almost 50% of all abortions happen when women are in their 20’s. So while those who’ve done this could be older,  the chances are as a singles ministry you know women in their 20’s who’ve aborted a child. How will you minister to her?  Have you stopped to think what kind of language people use about abortions in your ministry? Would a girl who has had an abortion be welcomed in your group?

 “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”    1 John 4:12

To the singles ministry looking to reach those who have had abortions, remember the love, not judgement, you show should reflect God.

To the female reading this who has had an abortion: God is love. He loves you. No matter the sin, affliction, temptations, and horrible thoughts we do. He. Loves. You. If you want to have a relationship with Him, follow this link for more information.

One Way To Grow Your Singles Ministry You Missed

Pregnancy centers are commonplace now in our cities and towns. These centers of hope of a life yet to be born have contributed to the steady decline of abortions in the past decade. Churches and evangelicals alike praise their existence, from a distance. The sad reality of pregnancy centers are they lack volunteer and church involvement to see the family in need through all stages of their life, not just a pregnancy.

On a recent trip the leaders of a local pregnancy center told us they desire to connect young mothers and families to the local church. These are Christian brothers and sisters on the front lines of saving lives, yet they feel alone in their battle. The sad irony of our pregnancy center leaders feeling isolated and alone as they reach out to mothers who feel the same should be heart-breaking to any Christ follower. Something has to change and it starts with each one of us. Nearly 40% of all families in our community are single parent families. Does your church reflect that statistic? To see single parent families connected to your church, here are some strategies for empowering our pregnancy centers beyond resources:

Connect with a Pregnancy Center

Not every church has a pregnancy center connection but they should. Establish that connection or find the one your congregation has and reach out to their leaders. While volunteering at the center may be where you feel led, we think everyone should be able to take the next step after connecting with a center.

Develop a Connection Pathway to Your Church

Pregnancy center leaders tell us that the amount of churches willing and committed to connecting these young mothers and families to a church is embarrassing. We simply are not doing enough as a church to empower these leaders with a pathway to a church home for their clients. Your church can distribute information about your congregation, but the most effective method is to go in person, meet the pregnancy center client with their permission, and greet them at your church when they come. We are talking about taking time to hold the hand of family and connect them to your church family, potentially changing changing their family lineage for generations to come.

So You Want to Grow Your Church?

Growth strategies for churches come and go, but the core messaging is the same. To reach people you have to go where people are! They will not come to you, and in our culture that is growing increasingly true as fewer Americans identify with church as a social norm. We propose this method of reaching into the lives of a mother and family in need is not only a Kingdom win, but one that will grow your church numerically as well. It may seem crass, but churches live in the reality of needing to add people to grow or they cease to be relevant. We think starting with pregnancy centers is a place where life change happens; would you want those lives in your church family?

In a generation when parachurch organizations can be very effective in reaching people where they are, churches have nothing to lose in extending an open hand. Worst case, the mother never visits your church but you shared God’s love and were welcoming. Potentially, one conversation and invitation could change generations of lives to follow Christ.

Shoes & God’s Other Wonders

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Whenever I ride the metro in Madrid, I look at people’s shoes. I know it seems weird, but I can’t help it. There are just so many varieties and colors, I can’t seem to take my eyes off them. Red shoes, big shoes, clean shoes, hiking shoes, running shoes, shiny shoes, work shoes, high-heeled shoes, muddy shoes, expensive shoes, old shoes, and even high-top shoes. Shoes can be powerful things. Marilyn Monroe is quoted as saying, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can change the world.” We all know it worked for Cinderella.

 

In the Old Testament, after rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, God miraculously gave the children of Israel shoes that never wore out for their long desert journey.  Although this was a very practical provision for them at the time, God had another clear reason for doing it. Deuteronomy 29 says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feetI did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God. ” Would Adonai, the majestic Triune-God really use something as simple as shoes to reveal Himself to His people? It seems He would and did.

 

God also used shoes as an indication of His faithful provision and love for His covenant people. In Ezekiel 16, Israel is described as a parentless child who has been abandoned, naked and cold, in a field.  He protects her until she comes of age and then takes her as his bride. Shoes form part of His marriage gifts and symbolize His commitment to protect and care for her always. They are made from the finest of leather. In the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, shoes are an indication of the privilege of sonship along with a fine robe and a ring for his finger. His new shoes publicly redeem him. His past is forgotten, all is forgiven, and he is restored.

 

Finally, shoes form an essential part of the armor of God for the well-equipped Christian. Paul, in Ephesians 6, was most likely describing the shoes Roman soldiers wore to battle. They were made of one leather piece, including the laces. They were also equipped with hobnails on the soles to give grip for climbing in difficult terrain. They were built to last, built for battle, and built for walking. In the same way, God fitted us with His shoes of eternal peace for knowing and believing the gospel. Let’s use them to accomplish His will in the world.  

 

As you put your shoes on in the morning, don’t forget who you belong to or who provides everything you need. Shod your feet with the gospel of peace and run down every path God gives to you. Then…maybe a good pair of shoes really can change the world.

Single Myths: Every Lady Needs a Man

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Ladies, let’s be real.

Women on TV are often portrayed as going from one man to another, trying to find completeness in a partner–emotionally, sexually, and sometimes, spiritually.

The idea prevails that women need another person to be complete even if he is just a very close friend. Even strong, independent types seek someone to complete them. With all the improvements of women’s right and equality, our nation still finds a 30-year-old woman to be flawed if she is still single. It is one reason the average age for brides is consistently lower by a year or more than the groom.

At Table for One Ministries, we believe you are complete in Christ. We say it often because it’s the foundation for how we view relationships. Your relationship with Christ builds a respectful, loving, caring, and trusting attitude needed for all other relationships. We argue it’s not the man who makes the woman, but the woman who grows in Christ that makes her into a Proverbs 31 woman of faith.

Women, be like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, go on mission for the Kingdom no matter the cost. Be like Mary, who may have been a single mother but raised a family that honored God and cared for our Savior. Be like Martha, who cried out to Jesus for help when Lazarus died but had faith Christ would bring him back to life.

Be bold for the kingdom as a woman. If your path brings you into a relationship with a man, your close relationship with Christ will be the foundation of knowing true love and give you the ability to be the best possible spouse.

On the Market

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So you are looking for someone to date and you are officially “on the market.” Good for you! If you have a desire to find someone and maybe a future spouse, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and meet new people. You can do this in many ways and some of them can even cost you money. Here are few Pro’s and Con’s to meeting other singles in certain venues.

  • Church
    • Pro: Why not start where people share your same values? It’s true that not all people in church can automatically be trusted more, however your chance of finding someone like-minded increases. If your group is growing, new people will be coming and you can meet new singles that way.
    • Con: Same old same old. If you have been going to a group for awhile you may have already decided there is no one there to date. This could be even more true if you still go to church where you grew up as a kid. Waiting for new people to come to your group may not fit into “your timetable,” so more options may need to be considered.
  • Work
    • Pro: You know people from a  working relationship and they could be a quality potential mate. Work is also a way to meet new customers or clients that could potentially lead to a date, though we don’t recommend you only interact with them for that purpose.
    • Con: Your work place policy may be against office dating and it could get you in serious trouble. Also, if the relationship goes south it may be awkward working next to the person you just broke up with. If the relationship works out and you get married, it can also be a challenge if one of you needs to move locations due to your employer’s policies.
  • Bar/Club
    • Pro: None
    • Con: Lots of them all stemming from one issue, authenticity. Meeting singles in the bar or club seems like a good idea, but often this is just a false reality; some people put on masks to lure others. Go to the bars and clubs with friends to have fun, stay sober, and meet others with your same values. Just be aware of the challenges you face doing so.
  • Online
    • Pro: Meet your next date in seconds! Literally! We have heard many great stories of singles meeting online and getting married, but they all had one thing in common. They met in person shortly after meeting online. A personal relationship needs to be personal and therefore, in person. Use online dating to go on a “blind date” just as you would if a  friend set you up, but not as a place to post your whole life and expect it to give you the perfect match. Only God knows who is your mate, not a website.
    • Con: It can cost money and dating websites exist to make a lot of it. Don’t be fooled by any dating site, Christian dating sites included.  They are not there for the sole purpose of finding your spouse; they are there to make money. So be prepared that hidden cost can add up over time. Also, dating website have been known to have fake profiles to entice people to sign up. And as we said before, meet in person as soon as possible. There are people who only date online, but we just think a relationship needs to be built in person to be the best it can be.

So, get out there and get on the market to find someone. Dating involves a little bit of risk-taking to possibly find your spouse. Always remember that you are complete in Christ as a follower of Him and you don’t need a date to feel whole. Date because God has placed that desire in your heart and not to a fill a hole of loneliness.