My desire is to continue to get to know her and possibly ask her out on a real date.
My worry is that everything is going so well with our group, and I don’t want to risk all of that by changing the status quo. I’m afraid that by taking things to the next level, it could fundamentally change our dynamic. I’m wondering if it would be selfish to ask her out at the risk of making things weird for us or the group.
Thanks for writing. This is an interesting question. I can certainly understand why you would be hesitant to pursue this woman given the immediate context of a small group that’s going really well. Having said that, I think in the bigger picture, the small group in and of itself is not a reason to dismiss the possibility of pursuing her.
Let me say first that, given the information you’ve included in your question, I only mean to address the issue of leading a small group with this woman as a potential barrier to pursuing her, not generally whether you should pursue her. That’s a question that you should be thinking and praying about in the context of your church and particularly with an older or more mature brother who knows you well and can counsel you through that larger decision. I should also add that this is an issue of Christian freedom and wisdom — there’s no hard theological point here that either forbids you from pursuing your co-leader or requires you to do so.
In terms of your status as co-leaders of the small group, I don’t see that as a reason not to pursue this woman. For one thing, unless the two of you plan to pursue long-term singleness and celibacy (which does not appear to be true — at least for you — based on your question), then your current relationship and dynamic as small group co-leaders will undoubtedly change at some point anyway. For example, if one or both of you got married or even got into a serious dating relationship, your one-on-one meetings to plan each week’s study would likely cease or change (indeed, they should cease once either of you is married).
Keep in mind as well that small groups — particularly those that involve young, single adults — tend to be very transient animals. Single people get married and join different groups; people move; people mature and are tapped to lead groups themselves. As well as your small group may be going right now, the most likely scenario is that something will “fundamentally change the dynamic” of the group whether you pursue this woman or not.
In contrast to the transient, relatively short-term dynamics of your small group and your co-leadership of it, marriage is the most significant and long-term relationship and ministry you will take on in your life, and it will affect every other job or ministry you pursue. For those who want to be married, I generally advise that they keep that larger perspective in mind and, all other things being equal, prioritize marriage and finding a spouse over shorter-term, more secondary priorities when the two are in tension.
In terms of your specific situation, I might even say that your successful co-leadership of a small group with this woman is a reason that you should pursue her. If you came to me and asked, “How can I get to know a woman at my church better to decide whether I should pursue her?” I would say (among other things) hang out with her in groups, watch how she serves in the church and maybe serve in a ministry with her, and find appropriate ways to have some fuller conversations in those contexts. Check, check and check. Even more than that, you have some good evidence that the two of you work well serving together in ministry. That’s really valuable information that most couples don’t yet have when they decide to pursue dating or even marriage together.
Finally, going by what you wrote in your question, she seems a solid, godly woman, and you seem to fancy her. Again, I know nothing beyond what you wrote, but you said a lot in those few sentences. By your estimation, you work and communicate well together; she is an encouragement to you; she is passionate and active in her pursuit of God; you have firsthand knowledge of how she treats Scripture; you admire her intelligence — and you’re physically attracted to her! People have run to the altar on a lot less, never mind pursued a date. In fact, the more I write, the more I think that not only should you pursue this woman, you might want to put what my old coach called a little “hustle-up” on the effort before another guy figures out what a good idea it is!
All kidding aside, I will pray for you to have wisdom. Seek counsel from a wise believer who knows you or both of you well. There may be good, biblical reasons for you not to pursue this woman, but in my view, her position as your co-leader is not one of them.
Copyright 2015 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.