Make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match.
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch,
Night after night in the dark I’m alone,
So find me a match
Of my own.
These two stanzas from Fiddler on the Roof could easily be the mantra of today’s young adult. Everyone is looking for the perfect match. Of course, they have friends, family, church members, and the book (Internet) to help expedite the process of finding that match. So how do we as leaders provide healthy guidelines and direction for the young adults in our ministries and in our communities, given the already existing efforts to help the “un-married” become married?
Perhaps the most fundamental task we can undertake in this area is to TALK about relationships. Some of my greatest and funniest memories in ministry are helping young adults walk through relationships—good ones and bad ones. Last year, heading back from a conference with a bus-load of college students, three of the guys were discussing some deeper theological issues. They called me over for clarification on a couple items, but as we were talking I noticed that no one else on the bus was paying attention to these important conversations. About 90 minutes into the discussion, a question was asked about relationships. Within minutes, there were 20 or more students crowded around us asking various questions about dating, breaking up, opposite sex friends, boundaries, and “the one.” In that moment I was reminded how important constantly providing healthy and safe environments for young adults to hear and ask about relationships is to their maturity and future relational success.
Like the bus ride, talking to young adults about relationships should be a natural part of ministry. Ask them questions about their dreams, desires, and preferences, and let them dialogue with you about your life, the Bible, the person they are interested in, and even cultural pressures. As these ongoing conversations happen, continue speaking to relationships in the more formal environments of ministry.
TEACHING young adults through Bible study, sermons, small group studies, and at conferences will give them a healthy perspective of how God sees them and how He expects them to interact with a potential spouse. Now, most leaders I know (and young adults) have a love/hate relationship with formal teaching on relationships. However, it is our responsibility to allow Scripture to intersect their life in this area. A young adult I was teaching alongside shared Proverbs 27:7 with a group as she was explaining her understanding of God’s direction for dating: “A person who is full tramples on honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.” Too many times young adults run around so starved for any kind of relationship that they choose any warm body to fill the void. They’ll take a “bitter” relationship just to have a relationship, rather than resting in the contentment God provides. Our calling is not to “Look through your book, And make me a perfect match.” Rather it is to prepare our young adults to make the right choices at the right time, which we do by presenting the Truth in relationships as led by Scripture. There are a great many principles that ring true for dating—becoming a person worth marrying, building trust, learning boundaries, spiritual development, intimacy, handling conflict, treating one another as a brother/sister in Christ, communication, walking by faith, and more. Teach these principles to your young adults.
These conversations, sermons, and Bible studies will become etched in your young adults’ minds and will help them make biblical choices. But perhaps the greatest contribution you can make as a leader in this area is to LIVE OUT healthy, God-honoring, opposite sex relationships before your people. If you are married, be a shining example of love, grace, humility, respect, and open communication. If you are single, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel, living above reproach as you spend time with those of the opposite sex. And finally, let them know it is okay to simply be an adult (no adjectives needed).