Speed Dating with Jesus

November 4, 2009

Dating can be pretty brutal.

I’m glad my dating days are behind me. Not that they numbered in the hundreds, or even the dozens…Actually, there were only a select few days I can technically call ‘dating’ days.

Anyway, dating can be fun. But for every fun date, there’s probably a bunch you know will never go anywhere. And the longer people date, the more many of them want to just get down to business and find someone already.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, people are pretty judgemental. In fact, they say that people have pretty much made up their mind about someone within the first minute of a date. That’s some efficient judging! If it’s a bad first impression, it can be a rough night…

“Well, there she is. Hmmm…is that really what she’s wearing? Decided that looked good, huh? Probably decided to make up for the dress with the excessive body spray. Okay, begin awkward conversation. Questions, questions… She answers a question and doesn’t ask one back. What’s up with that? What time is it? 6:02. We’re two minutes into this thing, and I’m dying already. Is someone texting me? No? Please, someone text me. Just keep drinking water. You’ll have to go to the bathroom soon enough. Okay, I can do this. Only two hours and fifty-eight minutes to go. I promised her a movie, so we don’t have to talk…What’s with her hand? I hope she doesn’t want me to hold it. Uh-oh, she’s ordering the Baja Biggie Basket. She must be high maintanence.”

That’s why speed dating apparently works. I never speed dated, but I understand the idea. Six minutes with each of 12 dates in one night…

“Yikes what’s up with that tie? Did your father give it to you? Oh, he’s trying to be funny. Well, at least he’s trying. Think he could’ve asked the barber to take care of that neck, though? Okay, just try to keep smiling. Good, the timer went off. That saved a lot of time. Next!”

Speed dating eliminates the hassle of having to go through a whole evening with someone you immediately know you don’t want to spend time with. If you’re looking for someone, it can take months of traditional dating to find a match. Speed dating lets you get a first impression, and then you can come back for more if you’re interested.

That got me thinking about visiting churches. Trying to find a church is a total pain. It can take months as you visit one church at a time, each weekend. If you’re really on your game, maybe you can squeeze two churches into a weekend. Most Sundays I visited churches in college felt like bad dates…

“Well this is a nice looking building…walking in the front door…oh no, it smells like old people and Glade. Okay, I can deal with this. This greeter is trying to ‘plug me in’ to some group. I just want to go to church, not sign a contract, sir. He probably sells used cars for a living. The worship leader looks way too happy. Oh I see, he must not have been impressed with our ‘Good morning,’ so he’s making us do it again. I wonder if I could slip out and go across the street to see what the Baptists are doing. Hmmm…they have the offering baskets on sticks. That’s fun. Oh, I see they have the little communion cups too. Those are cute. What is this preacher saying? Is it time to go? No, we’re having an altar call…of course. Three verses later…still going?”

So I’ve got an idea to float to you. As much as we like to say that all churches are part of the body of Christ, people still have really narrow ideas about what they’d like in their church. And if people are judgemental about dates, they’re also judgemental about churches.

What if we could speed date our churches? Hear me out. Meet 10 pastors and worship leaders in 90 minutes in a speed date style church service. It’s in a neutral place and people get a sense of the music and preaching without having to commit an entire Sunday visit to a place they know isn’t a good fit as soon as they walk in the door.

The Good:
People narrow down churches and find the right one quickly.

The first impression of a church isn’t a building.

Churches with ugly buildings or bad locations are on equal footing with others.
People and might discover a church they’d never visit otherwise.
The Bad:
A person can sum himself up in five minutes. A church can’t.

A church might have awesome people besides the pastor. You don’t get to meet them.

You might get a ‘cult of personality,’ where people are sold on the pastor…because surely that doesn’t happen already. Everyone goes Joel Osteen’s church for the giant spinning globe on the stage.

People who speed date are stereotypically cold-hearted business professionals with little faculty for genuine human emotion. Do we want to model church after that?
Still, seems better than people making a first judgement of a church by its building. As a pastor of a church with no building, I think that sounds okay.

If people trust something as important as finding their spouse to speed dating, is it possible for church?
What say you? If you were looking for a church, would you go to a church speed date night? Or is the concept an abomination to the body of Christ.