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Dating in Community


Jonathan JP Pokluda

The ultimate Christian dating question: How in the world do we date healthily in our communities?And no, we are not referring to anything strangely related to the years of, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. But rather, how do we today actually date in our church communities respectfully and lovingly? It’s complex, we know.

Today we sit down with Jonathan “JP” Pokluda, the Campus Pastor of Watermark Community Church and leader of The Porch, an influential Young Adult gathering. Their messages are highly influential in the Young Adults and singles community.

JP has a distinct passion is to share the Gospel with anyone who will listen and most recently, he has seen this passion come out through writing as he's RELEASED a new book called Welcome to Adulting. We LOVE that title! The book targets Millennials and those passionate about ministering to them. It even has a chapter on dating so CHECK IT OUT y’all.

What are the biggest dating issues you are seeing today?

JP laughs and answers that probably passivity is one of the biggest frustrations he sees. We could NOT agree more. It seems there is an overwhelming fear of rejection for individuals who are hesitant to ask others out.

JP also says the biggest issue is around the topic of pornography and how that has changed our views of sexuality and intimacy because as he says “it has moved us so far from God’s Ideal. Many guys are going into marriage not even with an addiction to sex but an addiction to variety which is the enemy of monogamy.” Unfortunately, this could not be FURTHER from God’s true ideal.

Lastly, JP says there is a wave of discontentment with many women and they are not sure how to handle that. They often go to one of two extremes to handle this discontentment and neither option is actually healthy.

How can you healthy ask someone out in community?

Kait and JP switch gears as Kait asks how someone can actually healthily ask someone out within the context of community. JP says “USE YOUR WORDS. I promise I fully empathize that it feels extremely difficult to get the courage to do that. The way that you do that is you go up to her, you look her in the eyes and you say I would like to spend some intentional time with you would you like to go out with me this Thursday at 7pm?” By being this clear it will remove any confusion or ambiguity.

What you should NOT do is send a text message, NOT a comment on Instagram, NOT a POKE on Facebook (do those even still exist? If they do they should go away immediately). If the girl says no, that is totally and completely okay. JP says, “It will hurt. It will sting for a moment kind of like a shot at the doctor. But you’re going to be okay and you’re going to get over that.”

What are some reasons a girl should say NO if she is being asked out?

Almost every wedding I have done they have not been each other’s types.” He explains people find themselves surprised. For example the woman might have wanted someone who was tall with dark hair and she is instead marrying someone who is short with blonde hair. JP says “If your type is outside of what God desires for you, you might need to leave that at the altar.” Many of the things we are looking for are just in reality preferences.

Instead we need to really consider evaluating the HEART of individuals. For a woman some of the red flags are:

  • If he is not God honoring
  • If he doesn’t have a reputation of treating women well.

If you are not comfortable with what his motives are.If he has a weird quirk or is not your initial “type” off the bat, JP thinks you should still truly give the person a shot.

How do we go about discerning a breakup properly to make sure we are not being led by our false expectations ?

JP also says something that is a bit shocking to us! He says that he thinks compatibility is a myth. “It is the holy spirit that makes us compatible as we are determined to be selfless to one another.” We need to go back to “what does God look for? What is He attracted to? How do I seek that out in a person regardless if I think they are funny or how much they entertain me or how great their body is. These are all things that lead us astray.

He also says something amazing regarding pr “What we feed our heart it wants more of. We don’t follow our heart but we inform our heart. We don’t follow our heart until we have told it what to look for.

Lastly, the final check point would be to make sure you have community speaking into this!

How important is it for us to steer clear of blanket statements like “I just don’t have peace”, or “I am confused”, and rather give them TRUE reasons so they can grow? How can we do that in love and grace?

One huge pitfall of breakups: Never blame God “God just too me that you are not the one. It’s not you it’s Me."

Let’s instead be HONEST.

Instead of blaming God or giving a vague reason for a breakup, be honest and Direct. You could say something like, the truth instead is, “My heart has drifted, here is why. As I consider someone that I want to be in my life these things are not fully aligning for me.”

JP says that a huge way to know if the relationship was successful or not is to measure if you are leaving that person better than you found them. He says, “Leave the person better than you found them. Not with a heartbreak or confusion or a lack of clarity. A way to leave them better than you found them is through honesty. This might take some thought and time to consider.

Kait also claims that this needs to be done with gracefulness and gentleness and love.

How do we healthily continue to date in community after a breakup has happened? How do we not BLACKLIST someone else so that they CAN date and are not off limits?

The reality is the bible does not give us an example of dating, we only have arranged marriages to reference! So what is the 2018 version of arrange marriages? IT would be all the friends in the community of faith looking at these two people who CARE about each other saying “this just makes sense.” In community we should be supportive of one another whether or not it works out.

Then JP addresses something SO key. This myth of “the ONE”. We really want first and foremost, to make sure they are running hard after god. This is the starting line. From here you can rely on the help of others to help guide you.

JP says, “The ONE is out there right along with  the Oompa Loompas, the Tooth Fairy, and the Unicorn.” JP then brings up a phenomenal point. His wife Monica is 5;3” and he is 6”7” and he likes guns, motorcycles and UFC and she is a sweet caring kind gentle small woman… so YES in many ways there might have been someone better suited for Monica. But she is “the one” for him because she is the one he choose. If you subscribe to the idea of the one, at some point in marriage you are going to think “oh i married the WRONG one.” because marriage is HARD.”

How do we go about dating other people our FRIENDS have dated?

JP starts by saying “Let everything you do be done in LOVE. Having honest conversations is a great starting point.” You start with a conversation with the friend out of respect for them, though he admits that he does NOT think you need to have that friends permission. That being said, you should do everything gin your control to be honest and forthright.

The reality is there are SO many nuanced situations, there is not one set way but the main thing would be to always check in with the Holy Spirit, follow His lead. Also seek the counsel of many over each of these situations.

Dating is HARD y’all. JP says we need to return to how God intended for us to be together. He says “God made and and woman. God gave us the desires he did. God invented marriage. We need to return back to what God desires for this. All we can do is the best we can while being guided by his word.

What is your final nugget of dating advice?

Everything we do in life is preparing us for some future moment. We are becoming something. Great husbands and great dads and great wives and great mothers do not just happen. They happen based on decisions… You are training for your future.”

Other ResourcesFollow JP on Instagram @jpokludaFollow The Porch on Instagram @theporchGet his new Book, Welcome to AdultingListen to the Porch Sermons here

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