I remember an expensive first date when I was in my early 20s. I was introduced to this girl and I took her out to the Cheesecake Factory. The atmosphere was pleasant and conversation was fine. After I paid the high-priced bill we started walking to our cars. She asked, “What kind of car do you drive?” Immediately, big yellow flags went up in my mind. I told her I drive a Honda Civic. I asked her the same question in turn. She said, “I drive a BMW!”
I felt like I was in that scene from the movie Swingers with Vince Vaughn. Vaughn’s character, Trent, goes up to a group of ladies and says, “How are you ladies doing?” One of the ladies, instead of answering the question, asks him, “What kind of car do you drive?” Trent is confused, so she asks again and Trent answers, “A Cavalier.” She rolled her eyes and starts talking to her friends. Trent, trying to justify his answer says, “It’s red.”
Needless to say, that was the first and only date I had with this girl.
Dating is such an interesting phenomenon. What if we could simplify it and focus on communication, rather than trying to impress our date with money we want them to think we have?
Below is a list of six date ideas you can use this weekend that will organically open fruitful conversation about life, culture and faith—and they’re all free!
The Beach or Park
Since I live in Southern California, the beach is usually my first choice. My first date with my wife was at the beach. After we started talking I checked out her social media and found out what she liked, so I prepared a picnic for her before I “taught” her how to surf. I think she was impressed that I put thought into the first date as opposed to being weirded-out by me checking her out online. Regardless, it worked.
The beach is nice because you can park on a side street, walk around in the sand and have great conversation all in the midst of God’s creation.
The park is another similar idea to the beach. It’s another opportunity to get to know one another in a refreshing environment and a place where you can usually feed the ducks.
A great way to discover more about the character of a person is to see if they are willing to serve. When we serve, we are making ourselves less and elevating others. If serving others is important to you (like it was and is to Jesus), this will show what your date’s perspective is.
You can serve at a soup kitchen, participate in a citywide clean-up day or even volunteer at a rescue mission.
Farmers markets are a great place to peruse a selection of fresh produce or handcrafted products, hear live music from local musicians or even run into some friends.
The last time I was at a farmers market I was amazed at the multitude of styles of wallets and what they were made out of. And even the street entertainers are amazing! Part of the appeal is seeing creativity like never before. You don’t even have to buy anything, just wandering through the markets is interesting and fun.
Concert in the Park
I remember growing up going to concerts in the park. There would be well over a thousand people in attendance—and it was free! They had big band, jazz, classical, etc. For the most part I would not normally listen to this type of music but it was a great cultural experience in a peaceful environment.
Often times, cities—in addition to having concerts in the park—will also have musicals in the park. These musicals are usually performed by local professionals, and seeing one is a great way to support the arts. Some cities will also show movies in the park.
The great part about these concerts is they can open the conversation up to talk about the arts and are a great chance to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery.
Go on a Hike
Going on a hike is another way to be in God’s creation and enjoy it with your date. Maybe you know of a waterfall, an open pasture where wild animals roam or a peaceful creek. The more thought put into the location, the more appreciation your date will have for your thoughtfulness.
God’s beauty is experienced as you walk, which is a great opportunity for conversations about faith.
Movie Night—Not “Netflix and Chill”
It’s important to set boundaries in dating. Boundaries develop trust and communicate respect. So for this type of date, it is best to invite friends over. Maybe you decide to watch a movie your group usually wouldn’t like a foreign film, a B-rated movie or a movie from the year you were born.
Chances are you will mock the movie, but you are creating fun memories and probably a lot of inside jokes to be overused over the years!
The wonderful part about this date is you’re surrounded with friends, creating memories instead of dealing with sexual temptation.
No BMW Needed
In order to go on these dates, you do not need a BMW. All you need is someone you are interested in and want to get to know a little better. Since these dates are free, the focus will be on developing the relationship and having great conversation.
After twenty years in the church and university worlds, Bryan A. Sands has accepted the call of Lead Pastor at Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the author of, Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait? (A Discussion in Sexual Faithfulness). You can learn more about the book at EveryoneLovesSex.org. Bryan and his wife, Caz, have three daughters.