I have a daughter.
I accept the fact that she will want to date one day. I also accept the fact that some boy may want to date her. I’ll also be heading to jail that day (kidding of course).
But seriously speaking, if and when that time comes, I hope she dates a “church guy.”
What do I mean by “church guy?” This is the dude who either grew up in the church or has assimilated into the life of his church. Either way, a significant chunk of his life is spent on and identified in the local church.
You know who these guys are — they’re the ones who regularly attend church, some of his closest friends are at church, and he may even serve in some capacity. If you ask him what he did last weekend or any weekend for that matter, he’s gonna talk about church.
And I hope it’s one of these guys asking my girl on a date someday.
But if I’m honest, I have some reservations about these guys too.
I realize my reasons are rooted in generalizations, and there’s always some church guy somewhere who defies these descriptions. Nonetheless, I think generalizations exist for a reason and can still serve a revelatory purpose.
So with that being said, here are my reasons for why I think church guys make the best and worst boyfriends:
Why They Make the Best Boyfriends
1. They have a Good Head on Their Shoulders
I like to believe the average “church guy” has a relatively sound outlook and perspective on life.
He is after all, a professing Christian whose worldview is informed by the Bible. This matters.
The inner thoughts someone holds (convictions), eventually become internal pillars (values), which begin to reach outward to shape reality (life).
Yup, worldview matters. Theology matters.
I would hope for my daughter’s future boyfriend to have a moral grid of right and wrong as defined by God. I want her to go on a date with someone who sees her as a woman made in God’s image, and not some “chick.”
I trust this to be the case for the church guy.
And even if his worldview needs some adjustment or he’s a little theologically challenged, I feel better knowing his involvement in the local church will serve as a long-term developmental process.
2. They Date With a Respectable Purpose
The “church guy” is probably looking to date with the eventual hopes of getting married.
He’s been told at some point to not just date for the sake of dating. He’s also surrounded by an inter-generational church context where he’s bumping into married folks, parents, children, and so forth. Week in and week out, his mind is subtly being reprogrammed to build a future family.
This is why it’s not a coincidence church guys often bring up the future and express their desire for a long-term future commitment when they talk about dating.
Sure, sometimes it can be a little forced and other times a little creepy, but I still applaud the attitude.
In fact, I prefer this much better than some guy who has his own apartment who’s currently bringing home a different girl every night hoping to settle down once he gets it all “out of his system.”
3. They’re Vetted And/Or Will Be Held Accountable
The “church guy” will have somewhat of a known reputation. Someone knows who he is. Someone has seen him in some context.
It might be his pastor who notices him coming to church every week. It could be the ministry director who’s watched him faithfully serve or flake. It could be the other guys in his small group.
But all this means he’s being vetted to some degree.
Sure, there’s always some dude who slithers his way past it, but even that can only go so far. They’ll eventually be held accountable right? Because even if he’s a wanderer, at least the girl in the relationship is in some type of small group or has her band of sisters looking out for her.
And if the dating couple starts distancing themselves from the church community, people get the hint, and can respond.
And even if you see too many loose ends with those scenarios, isn’t that still far better than some guy who isn’t committed to a church community or any community for that matter?
Who knows what the isolated guy is up to? How do we know who he really is? How can you even trust what he’s saying about his values and desires Who’s green-lighting him? His mom?
Anyone who isn’t regularly meeting with some kind of community is isolated. Guys in isolation could range anywhere from stand up dude, to a total faker who can highly adapt to his surroundings. But who knows?
I’m rolling my dice with the church guy.
Why They Make the Worst Boyfriends
1. They’re Coddled
Every guy will absorb the best parts and the worst parts of his church culture. They can’t help it. Humans are this way. The social DNA we swim in eventually seeps in.
And a lot of churches don’t have a strong, robust theology of Biblical manhood.
Please hear me, I’m not talking about cultural chauvinism sprinkled with Bible verses where it’s about working out, driving a truck, and making fun of guys who express their emotions to Jesus. That’s awful!
No, I’m talking about men, who by the power of the Holy Spirit, are intentionally striving to be like the perfect man, Jesus. I’m talking about reflecting Jesus in sacrificial love and responsibility. I’m talking about holiness. Yes, personal discipline and pursuing excellence to better love neighbor. No, not Jesus-like perfection, but Jesus-like direction.
But try this experiment: Go to any church guy and ask him, “What does it mean to be a Biblical man” and watch the train wreck ensue as he tries to duct tape “Jesus” and “the glory of God” together.
But then ask him how his sports fantasy team is doing or when the last time he engaged in his hobby. You’ll notice the stark contrast.
And even if he nails his answer, what about his life? A lot of church culture is cerebral, and that’s why sometimes the guys who can give the best answers rise to leadership even though they can’t and won’t live out half of what they’re selling.
And so eventually, a church culture is created where men aren’t challenged and provoked, but comfortable. Every guy can sink to the lowest common denominator of the guy sitting next to him and that’s all okay because of Jesus, their Savior, the very Savior they’re forgetting to imitate.
And this is why I think some church guys get so discouraged once they start dating. They’re surprised by the amount of investing that goes into a relationship. They grow frustrated at their girlfriends when part of their frustration ought to be toward themselves.
2. They Lack Ambition
This is probably the case with guys in general, but sometimes church guys come off like they’re searching for the life path of least resistance.
Think about most church ministries as an example. Aren’t some of the most reliable leaders, women? And that’s great! Ministries absolutely need the sisters but sometimes those very sisters are looking around asking, “Why aren’t the guys stepping up?”
Even career-wise, I run across more ambitious girls than I do guys. Again, that’s great, but what about the guys?
And this also show up in the dating sphere. Guys lose motivation once the chase is over. They can become lazy. They stop trying. But this is simply symptomatic of the larger picture.
I think a part of this is due to a faulty understanding of ambition, namely attaching “ambition” to “idolatry” too quickly. This is why church guys call foul when they see an ambitious guy. They wish he’d be “more balanced” or “more Christ-centered.” But ambition is neutral. The substance, motives, and means measure the value of an ambition.
So maybe the accusers are the ones off-centered and imbalanced because laziness is idolatrous. Maybe they need to become more ambitious and say along with John Wesley, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
By the way, I think this is one of the reasons Christian girls go for the unbelieving boy. Deep down inside, she knows it’s unwise, but she’s too intrigued. He’s action oriented and she finds that unusually attractive.
3. They’re Not Holistic.
Church guys are by-products of their Christian and church sub-culture. This isn’t all bad. I think everyone is in a sub-culture to a certain degree.
But all sub-cultures leave their imprint with subsequent strengths and weaknesses.
So for example, if church guys hear abstract ideas championed at their churches far more than practicality or wisdom, they will conform into that mold.
This is why church guys can sometimes talk to their girlfriends about the future with the rhetoric of God’s sovereign provisions without practically applying how he’s going to take the necessary steps through budgeting, savings, and finding a job. He keeps wondering why she has such a hard time trusting God with the future when her trust problem isn’t really with God, but with him.
This is why church guys can sometimes quote Bible verses so that their girlfriends can deal with their explosive anger issues. Yet, they can be clueless as to how their poor listening, communicative insensitivity, and lack of emotional intelligence drove their girlfriends to crazy-land from the get-go.
Church guys can pride themselves in being Biblical or gospel-centered. And those are nonnegotiable, but being informed, wise, and practical is godly too.
Some Concluding Thoughts
No, “church guys” aren’t perfect, but I still think they make the best boyfriends.
If you’re a church girl, don’t be hesitant to date a church guy. There are a lot of great church guys. If you can’t see any, you may be brushing them off too quickly.
If you’re already dating a church guy, be patient with him and be careful to not make his faults greater than your own. If you’re going to call him out, be sure to thank him for what he’s doing right too.
If you’re a church guy, I’d encourage you to get around older men who have gone before you. Go talk to a married man. Ask questions to a dude with kids. Also, invest in spiritual community. Ask your church buddies for prayer. Get around the youth group, serve, and learn from the staff.
If you’re dating a church girl, be courageous and initiate a conversation with your girlfriend by humbly asking, “How do you think I can grow as a man of God?” “Will you pray for me?” It may be small, but it’s a good start.
I grew up as a church guy. I still have a long way to go.
I feel the daily pull of passivity and blame shifting patterned after the first Adam of “The Fall.” I want to take on the sacrificial love, perseverance, and hard work patterned after Jesus, the second Adam.
God is powerfully at work in us so let’s get moving.