As I am sure you know we’ve been operating our organisation for over 22 years now. So much and so little has changed. 22 odd years ago there were quite a few genuine dating agencies for Christians. Now the competition appears much fiercer – there appears to be lots of agencies serving Christians but the majority of them are not genuine – there are so many wolves in sheeps’ clothing out there.

As a member you will know we are a genuine, Christian only organisation. But here’s my challenge to you. Having presumably wanted to find a join a genuine Christian dating organisation, are YOU actually doing your dating in any way differently to your non-Christian friends dating on sites like match.com, plenty of fish or Tinder for example?

I’d like you to think hard about this (as we are here in the office) because it’s really important to us and should be to you too.

The ‘world’ (a term used by Christian to indicate a non-Christian way of doing things) dates by relating to each other bodily and physically first. Am I attracted to him/her? Do I fancy them? Then the ‘world’ dates by considering the soul – intellect, interests, character. What can I get out of this person? What’s in it for me? (shared interests/companionship etc). And finally comes the spiritual dimension.

We only need to look at the mess our society is in – with its enormously high divorce rates to see how relationships that are based on this structure are flawed.

In God’s Kingdom, as ever He turns things on their head. When seeking a partner we should seek spiritual connection first, then a soul connection (intellect, interests and character fit) and only then these two are in place in that order, the body connection.

I think it’s fair to say the world view co-habiting as “I’m in this for as long as I can get something out of it.” All God’s examples of solid relationships are based on something utterly different – a Covenant – what can I give? (not What can I get?)

The ‘world’s’ way of dating quickly leads to co-habitation. Generationally relationships started this way lead to all sorts of problems. Covenant relationships generationally lead to generations of blessings. (Just look at Ruth and Naomi in the Book of Ruth in the Bible if you want a Biblical example here.)

Living by God’s way, in a society that mostly denies the very existence of God, is not easy and dating is certainly no different. God wants the best for you so doesn’t it make sense to do things the way he recommends? And this includes finding a relationship.

So, what does this mean in practice and in relation to friends1st? It means so many things, but I want to focus on one here.

You’ve joined friends1st/Heavenly Partners because you are a Christian right? And wherever you are on your journey of faith, your life is pointing in God’s direction. So how about starting all your interactions with other members finding out about their faith. Make that your Number One and only criteria at the initial stages. Get that bit in place first irrespective of anything else that might distract you like where someone lives, what they look like, what they do etc. Remember those distractions are the worlds way not God’s way.

I’m not asking you to find out if the other person has exactly the same faith as you, or same level of faith – they probably won’t – we all have unique journeys. But find out about their faith. Is God a central part of their life, does their faith have an impact on their life? How? How has their faith affected their life? These are the sorts of things that will stand you in very good stead in the future if you get the answers you are hoping to get.

As with so much of what I teach, coach, recommend, you have to try it to ‘get it’. Nina’s story on the following pages is a classic example of this. She followed our 3-date rule reluctantly, but she followed it, and her engagement and imminent marriage to Steve is the result of this.

I know turning the ‘worlds’ way on its head and doing it God’s way is hard. I’m certainly no expert, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

Moreover, I passionately want our organisation to be known as different because of the way our members date and relate to each other. So often we hear complaints of other members due to their looks, where they live or what they do or don’t do with their lives. This is 100% ‘world’ speak and quite honestly you might as well be on any non-Christian dating site if you are approaching your dating like that.

For me marrying a Christian was a fundamental – not an optional nice to have extra. If that’s the case for you too, then I encourage you to date that way too. Put your faith first. Act God’s way first.

Finally, please don’t think this message is for other members. It’s 100% for you! And if every member took it on board, Christian dating with us certainly would be a thing of great wonder and something the world would sit up and take notice of. And that would give glory to God which would be a wondrous thing too.

Here endeth the lesson.