Full time ministry people typically read a lot. Now I’m not talking about seminary classes here, although those are great. What I’m talking about is the books we read beyond that.
Christian leaders around the world have embraced a whole lot of books that aren’t officially (or in some cases even remotely) “Christian”. I see people reading countless books on leadership, team building, good communication and business practices. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Good To Great for sure come to mind. As I was going through leadership stuff with my church, my pastor had me read The Starfish And The Spider. This was a book about decentralization of an organization. All good books. But not exactly theologically profound.
Do you know why all these Christian leaders read all these books? Because they are helpful. Duh.
Running a church or ministry has a business and organizational piece to it. We can wish it didn’t but it does. And while theological training can help with that, it’s not usually enough.
Now there’s some people reading this right now thinking, “Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this part of the problem with the Western Church today? Too much business?” Fair thought, but hear me out.
The key here is to not let these types of books become our Bible. But there is nothing wrong with taking things created in the “secular” world, running them through the filter of the Bible and Church, and then using what is helpful.
Look, some things we read are unbiblical and go against what it teaches. Those should always be discarded. But others either line up within the principals scripture or don’t run opposed and are helpful with certain areas of life.
Take math – hard to learn algebra in the Bible. But Algebra isn’t anti-biblical. And I’m hoping that the engineer that built that bridge did a whole lot more math than algebra.
The reason books like Good to Great are so good for us is that they challenge how we think about painting vision, engaging people, and creating movement. We’d be foolish to ignore common truths just because they aren’t “Christian”. (Frankly many organizations do a better job of keeping their word, delivering on their promises and empowering people to act than the Church does, but that’s for some other blog).
Bottom line is this. As a believer I have the option, if not duty, to run everything I see, read, think, philosophize, politicize, and feel through the context of that belief. But I don’t have to shut off philosophy, politics, feelings, thought, books, math etc to do it.
But when it comes to dating, this is basically what the Church has done.
We’ve turned dating into some sort of over spiritualized drama. While often not helping women, we’ve almost completely failed our men. We ask our men to ignore the dating culture we live in, rather than helping them navigate it. We give them slogans instead of tools. We tell them what they should do in marriage, but not how to get married. We tell them what not to do on a date, but never how to get a date to begin with. We tell them how to respect women, but not how to gain the respect of women.
A lot of the “secular” dating help does exactly the opposite, albeit often for secular goals.
But that is exactly my point. We don’t have to fear the “secular” dating help just because the goal of this or that author isn’t “biblical”.
I think we are afraid that if we give the guys these tools, they’ll use them for the wrong objectives. If we learn from the “pick up artist”, for example, then men will just pick up women for sex. But here’s the thing. If the only reason a guy isn’t sleeping around is because he can’t “pickup” a woman, then that guy isn’t with us anyway. He’s just “with us” because he has to be. Friends, that is not the goal.
Here’s the question. Would you rather have a bunch of “Christian” guys who don’t know how to approach a woman, get a date, or understand attraction so that they aren’t misusing that information, while our women continue to be un-attracted to them, or would you rather help them learn that knowledge knowing that many of them would then filter that through the lens that you say they believe in. If we are so worried about the ladies, which do you think would be better for them?
Not only that, but isn’t it our job as Christian leaders (I am one) to learn this stuff, run it through our filters, and then share that knowledge?
Otherwise the “evil” “pickup artists” will just keep picking off our flock.
I’ll close with this. I was speaking at a teen camp several years ago and working closely with what we call the “program team” whose job it was to plan and execute the events of the week. They wanted to do a dance and of course this created a bit of a stir, honestly even in me. One of them shared basically this, “We will control it. We have a plan. Dancing has all sorts of contexts. We want to take dancing back for the Lord. We will control it. But we are going to dance. Dancing is God’s. We are reclaiming it this week so that kids will know that.”
They did it. . . all week. . . it was powerful
How much more so if we actually engage attraction and all that goes with it.
Christian leaders let me ask you this. If a guy was starting a business, while you’d want him to use Biblical principles you’d also probably have other resources in mind. If a guy was looking to get married – what would you offer him?