It’s important for young people to remember that the purpose of dating is not just about “having a good time.” Learn how we have separated a pursuit of romance from a pursuit of commitment. Guest Joshua Harris, will give us a healthy perspective on finding love.
In the last days of 1974, Joshua Harris was born in Dayton, Ohio, to Gregg and Sono Harris. Homeschooled throughout his life, he moved with his parents to Gresham, Oregon, when he was eight. Gregg became an influential leader in the early homeschool movement, his workshops attracting hundreds of thousands of parents across the country. The trust these parents had in Joshua’s father laid the foundation on which Joshua would build his own ministry.
Joshua began speaking at the age of seventeen. Encouraged by his enthusiastic reception at his dad’s conferences, he began conducting his own events for homeschooled teens. He also founded New Attitude, a quarterly magazine for homeschooled teenagers. Joshua’s writing skills grew sharper as the magazine’s distribution climbed to over 5,000 homes in the four years it was published.
Joshua ceased publication of New Attitude in 1997, the same year his surprise hit I Kissed Dating Goodbye was published. It was the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling nonfiction paperback of the following year. Numerous radio and television appearances followed, including Dateline NBC, USA Weekend, and ABC’s Politically Incorrect. A message by Joshua featured on Focus on the Family became one of their top 100 most requested shows in their history. To date, more than 900,000 copies of I Kissed Dating Goodbye have been sold. It has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Korean, Chinese, German, and Swedish.
1998 also brought a change in location for the new author. Joshua moved from his longtime home in Gresham to Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he would serve as a pastoral intern under C.J. Mahaney, senior pastor of Covenant Life Church. Motivated by a desire to be mentored and by a conviction to serve the local church, Joshua lived with C.J.’s family and immersed himself in the vibrant community of the 2,500-member body.
In 1999, Josh hosted the first annual New Attitude Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Now a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries, New Attitude is a ministry for young adults with the aim of spreading what Josh calls ”passioned orthodoxy”—a love for biblical truth combined with a passion for the presence of God. Now in its sixth year, the conference gathers college students and singles who come to worship God and be changed by His Word.
Harris has made forays into other media. He helped produce the I Kissed Dating Goodbye Video Series in 1999. The three-part series filmed in New York, Nashville, and Baltimore allowed the young preacher’s message to spread to many thousands of homes and youth groups. That year Joshua also formed the New Attitude Band and served as an executive producer on their first worship recording, released by PDI Music (now Sovereign Grace Music). Joshua’s close friend, Eric Hughes, who leads worship each year at the New Attitude conference, heads the band.
Joshua’s wife, Shannon, is the talented lead vocalist for the New Attitude band, not to mention a determined one—she recorded her vocals in Nashville while six months pregnant! Their first baby, Emma Grace, arrived safely in three months. The next addition to the family came two years later with the birth of Joshua Quinn.
Joshua wrote his book Boy Meets Girl as a follow-up to I Kissed Dating Goodbye. In part it tells the story of his courtship and engagement to his wife, Shannon. The highly anticipated sequel was harder for Josh to write, but a better book in his opinion. Though the Christian market was already flooded with books both for and against dating, I Kissed Dating Goodbye changed the landscape on the topic, opening the door for Boy Meets Girl to become an instant bestseller.
In the spring of 2001 Joshua became the executive pastor of Covenant Life Church. He continues to lead the annual New Attitude conference each January and also speaks at several large Christian music festivals each summer, but he has brought an end to his regional conferences on dating and relationships. His new role allows him to focus his energy on his young family and the church he feels God has called him to serve.
Joshua’s third and possibly most controversial book, Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust, just released in September 2003. In this book, he points a generation inundated with pornography and sexual sin back to God’s standards and to the freedom and joy of holiness. Josh is straightforward in this book as he shares his own struggles. “I’m writing to readers what I think will help them. I share from my own life very freely,” he admits. “If you’re going to talk about lust you have to be open and honest.”