Is It Wise for a Pastor to Date a Church Member?
Can a Pastor Date a Church Member? There are pastors / Preachers/ Youth Ministers who are single and are ready for marriage. It is normal for such pastors to find suitable partners in the churches they pastor. Many wonder whether it is okay for them to date church members because they don’t want to offend God and others. When a pastor dates a church member, almost everyone in the church knows, and therefore he or she wants to be careful not to ruffle some feathers. The truth is that a pastor can date a church member but must do so without walking in disobedience to God.
Can a Pastor Date a Church Member / When Can a Pastor Date a Church Member?
1. If The Person He or She Wants to Date is Born Again.
The first thing the pastor needs to do is to establish if the person they want to date is born again. This is because as Christians, we are not to marry unbelievers because we will be unequally yoked. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
It is very important that when you are serving in the kingdom in the ministry of a pastor when you are wanting to find a companion. It is very important that they share the same goals and directions. The Pastor’s heart is pointed toward serving, following, sacrificing, surrendering, in times of plenty and times of prosperity. The Pastor is serving a higher calling. It is not about money or position but as the apostle Paul, you might end up in some remote place serving in seeking and saving the lost. If your soul mate does not share your that same degree of Submission.
To a lesser degree but the same principle in the Old Testament, God did not want The Children of Abraham, to intermarry with the other nations.
They did not share the same heritage. That difference in Allegiance resulted over and over in The Children of Israel getting Lost. Drifting away from their God. (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
When I married Darlene, I had a driving desire to study God’s Word. I loved it. There was one night that I was Ill, and Not able to attend Sunday evening Services. Our Congregation just happened to have a guest speaker passing through. Our Elders had invited him to speak. He was an instructor for a Preaching School several states away. Darlene Immediately knowing my heart, knew that I would be very much interested in this and set up a meeting.
From there We sold our House, Moved to Michigan, Spent 2 Years studying the Bible 12 hours a day, Our First Mission trip to Africa…..a life of Surrendering to God. None of This would have transpired if I had married someone with a different Direction on Their Hearts. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
In order to set a good example to church members, a pastor should only date a person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those he or she pastors are paying attention to how the dating will progress and work out and whether the pastor will obey God’s Word regarding relationships.
A believing church member is one who lives for Christ and wants to live a godly life. An unbeliever cannot submit to the will of God and will many times gravitate to worldly pleasures.
2. Is God Leading the Pastor to Date a Church Member?
The pastor needs to seek God in prayer about a church member they are interested in and wait for God’s response. Following God’s leading in dating avoids many heartbreaks and complexities that come from breakups. Some relationships are never meant to be, and it is important for the pastor to know.
The pastor needs to avoid walking in the flesh because of romantic feelings, and instead follow what the Spirit desires. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5). If the pastor does not have a strong impression from the Lord to date a church member, then he or she should not do it. God usually has His reasons for why we are to avoid having relationships with certain people.
3. Are They Compatible?
A pastor wanting to date a church member needs to find out if they are both headed in the same direction in life. It is wrong to assume that because both parties are believers, they can have a lasting relationship. This is not true if we go by the divorce rate we witness in the church. If for example, a pastor is called to an itinerant ministry and their love interest to a local church, somewhere along the way one person will be dissatisfied with the relationship.
The pastor needs to know that the person they are interested in knows their divine purpose so that he or she can know whether to pursue the relationship. There are many other things to find out about a person in order to gauge compatibility.
When Should a Pastor Not Date a Church Member?
1. The Church Member is an Unbeliever.
An unbeliever does not have the Spirit of God in them and this means that spiritual incompatibility is inevitable. “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). If a pastor dates an unbeliever, he or she will be dragging along someone who has no interest in knowing God and serving Him. This is a person who comes to church but is not ready to live for God.
2. If the Church Member Has Not Healed From Past Relationships.
Many people get into relationships before they heal from their past ones. This means that they bring a lot of emotional baggage into a relationship and ruin it. A pastor definitely does not want to get caught up in a dating experience with such a person because there will be turmoil in the relationship.
The best thing a pastor can do if he or she is interested in such a person is to pray that God will heal them and prepare them to be in a relationship. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). The pastor needs to exercise self-control because romantic feelings can make one want to rush into a relationship and get married. He or she should allow God to order their steps when it comes to dating a church member.
3. If God Does Not Reveal His Approval.
When a pastor senses that God is against a relationship with a certain church member they are interested in, then he or she should not go ahead with it. God sees people’s hearts and warns us in advance. Proverbs 16:2 tells us, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” You may look at a person and assume they are pure and godly yet they are not, they are just putting up a face. Many people do that it church.
The pastor should be vigilant and discerning and know when God does not want them to pursue a certain person. In the long run, the pastor will understand why God was against the relationship.
A pastor can date a church member but should do so under God’s guidance. He or she should pray and read the Word of God so that they will end up with a godly relationship that is fruitful and mutually beneficial. The pastor should trust that God will lead them to the right person.