What follows are REAL LIFE examples of the dating hazards that accompany being a single pastor. Please, learn from my and my friends’ mistakes, misguided ideas, and embarrassments.
Disclaimer: I am not at all ashamed of being a pastor. What follows include a lot of efforts to hide being a pastor from potential mates, but this is mostly just because, in my and my friends’ experience, guys tend to run screaming from a girl who is a pastor. I suppose this may be true for male pastors, as well. In any case, I do ultimately advocate being up-front and honest about the wonderful calling God’s placed on your single little life.
10. The Bar Crawl
Pros: It’s loud in bars! Maybe they’ll think you said, “Blaster” or “Finisher,” instead of “pastor” or “minister,” and they’ll think you’re some sort of awesome NASA asteroid destroyer who saves the planet on the regular.
Cons: Get one beer in your tummy and you’re probably going to start arguing the morality of Bonhoeffer’s writing Ethics while plotting to kill Hitler. And let me tell you, that is the exact opposite of sexy.
9. The Dog Park
Pros: You can distract them with your adorable puppy instead of focusing on that pesky question, “So what do you do?”
Cons: The most optimal time for young singles to be at the dog park is during their lunch break or on Sunday afternoon, when you’re probably still wearing your clerical collar and/or your church name tag. Kind of a giveaway.
8. The Misdirect
Pros: Telling someone “I work at a nonprofit” isn’t technically a lie.
Cons: It’s totally not the truth. And they will find out eventually. Like when you’re constantly at work on Sunday morning and Wednesday night.
7. The Coffee Shop
Pros: You’re sitting in a comfy chair reading– which technically counts as working since ministry is at least partially a life of the mind: Score 10 points!– and a cute guy/girl (whatever applies to you, dear reader) walks up: “What are you reading?” Look at you! Conversation started! Score 400 points– you get a pizza party for dinner and ice cream for dessert!
Cons: You’re totally reading Barth. Or worse, Yoder. There’s no explaining that one in an “I’m open to dating” sort of way.
6. The Bible Study
Pros: You know that the people there are Jesus junkies, just like you.
You know that they know you’re a pastor, if not because they go to your church then hopefully because you can speak with some level of articulateness on this Jesus stuff.
You know that they are down with Church life, because otherwise why would they be at church on a Sunday night?
Cons: The cons here come in two dangerous territories:
1) The Bible study is at your church. DANGER DANGER! No parishioner dating! Stop it! Go read your Bible (NOT Song of Songs), take several cold showers, and then never go back to that place again.
2) The Bible study is at some other church. Uh oh. What if he/she’s secretly a conservative? Or worse, Calvinist? Run away!
5. The Clergy Meeting
Pros: You’re sitting in a clergy meeting and, what the what?! Someone your age! And they’re cute! And they’re smiling at you!
Find yourself daydreaming about the potential perfection of it all: You’ll hold a charge together, with the wife as the senior pastor because you’re one of those progressive, pro-feminist couples. You’ll raise perfectly liturgical children who beg you to read them Rowan Williams before bed. And you’ll never fight because your pastor marriage will be the picture of Christian charity.
Cons: Shut up, you’re an idiot. Look away.
4. The Sports League
Pros: Joining the local ultimate frisbee group is a great way to get in shape and meet new folks. You get to run around, frolic in the sun, and probably see a lot of guys with their shirts off/girls in short shorts (I’m trying really hard to be male-pastor-friendly in this blog, but it’s difficult. Listen, if I knew what guys were interested in, I probably still wouldn’t be single. #truefact).
Cons: You actually have to be athletic/good at sports. The sport I’m best at is juggling…. hospital visits. Juggling hospital visits.
3. The Wedding
Pros: You’ve just officiated at a wedding and now, hey! You’re invited to the reception! Who’s at wedding receptions? Young people, generally. Get in there, girl/fella! Find yourself a cutie!
Cons: They just saw you up front officiating a wedding. You’re more likely to get asked to officiate their wedding than to go out with them. This is a true story that has happened to more than one of my friends. It’s a sad life, guys.
2. Online Dating
Pros: You can be up-front on the “Career” section, or you can do the Misdirect (see #8). In an effort to be accessible, you can mention all your non-church interests, like………….. um? Okay, just go with the generic stuff: “Movies, hangin’ with friends, traveling.” You can even filter your matches to find a nice Methodist boy/girl. Note: Don’t lead with, “So you’re definitely Arminian, right?”
Cons: Having to tell your congregation that you met your new beau online.
1. The Set-Up
Pros: This highly seductive method, wherein you let the old ladies in your church set you up with their grandchildren, HAS NO PROS. DON’T DO IT. DON’T.
Cons: Everything. You will only hurt the old lady’s feelings when the first date goes sour after you realize that the reason the grandchild is single is because he’s a comic book geek, closeted, or a fratty play-boy.
So there you have it, ladies and gents. Dating as a Pastor. I suggest just going ahead and buying a single cemetery plot and adopting three cats now. Cheers!