Singles Ministry was blowing up tonight. The room was full and the music thumping. I scanned the crowd for new faces. A thick head of dark hair caught my eye – Tony. Where had Tony been? It had been months since he disappeared from the group.
I ambled over to his table and he looked at me sheepishly. “I got in a serious relationship and stopped coming to group. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I know you guys told me to take it slow, and you were so right. As fast as our relationship clicked, we then fizzled out. Not only did we break up, but now I have no place to live because I sold my place and moved in with her.”
I patted Tony on the back as he leaned in and sadly whispered, “Will you help me? I need people to keep me on track. I keep screwing this dating thing up.”
And that’s how “Team Tony” was born, the teaching model we use in Singles Ministry based on our experience of guiding Tony how to date “in community” instead of isolating and taking off his own.
Dating In Community
There was a glaring problem with Tony’s method of dating. Every time he fell for a girl, he dropped his friends in singles group and charged forward at 100 mph towards the relationship. Tony got physical too fast, he had zero accountability and he didn’t allow the people who knew him best to speak truth into his life about the character of the woman he pursued or the rushed pace. Every time he got dumped, Tony returned to the group with his tail between his legs. Tony didn’t need another girl to keep up the dating insanity; what Tony needed was a team.
Dating in community instead of outside it allows the natural boundaries of the group to keep the relationship in check. Friends will call you out before you sell your condo and hand over the keys to your life. Friends will gently let you know if this is a red flag relationship or give you the thumbs up when someone is a real catch. The wisdom of a group and friendship is invaluable in the dating realm, so don’t discount this gift from God.
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!”
Ecc. 4:9-10 (The Message)
The Bible confirms this truth – you need people! So find a healthy community of men or women who will help you navigate life and dating. Stay in the group and don’t bail at the first sign of a relationship. Instead, bring them to the group because this is when you need wisdom the most.
Finding A Mentor
In addition to the community you’ve joined, ask a pastor or married friend who dated well to meet with you on a regular basis. Keep an open dialogue and honestly share where you struggle. Wisdom seeks accountability with people who have been successful in the areas you need to be successful, so glean all you can from them. Pray with them, check in with them and introduce your dates to them. Listen when they give you feedback. We hire trainers to get better at fitness and financial planners for our money, so why not find a dating guide to help you make the best decisions for the future of your love life?
Assembling A Team
Once you have your mentor and community group together, specifically ask them to be your dating team. They will be honored you have let them in on this part of your life. It’s humbling to ask for relationship help, but I guarantee the results will be worth it. While I accidentally met my husband at church on my own, we had already been earmarked to be set up by a pastor’s wife on staff. What a relief to know this was a quality guy with great referrals.
When good people know good people, they want them to connect. So ask your team to network for you and introduce you to someone they think would be a good fit. It never hurts to have another set of eyes looking for potential quality dates, making introductions and cheering you on.