This week, we spoke with McKenzie Griffin, a resident of Dallas who is a young, professional Christian woman AND ministers to young, professional Christian women. (Fancy that!) McKenzie spoke with us about the “Dallas lifestyle,” which we’re guessing applies to more major cities than just Dallas, and how it affects your worldview and relationships.
4word: So you work for Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCPC)? What’s your job like?
McKenzie: I am the young adult women’s discipleship coordinator, so I work with post-college women in their early 20s to early 30s. My boss, Aaron, and I run a co-ed Bible study called OaklawnWest that meets every Tuesday night. Aaron handles the teaching, and I plug the girls into small groups and connect them with older women in the church who can serve as mentors.
OaklawnWest attracts a lot of young adults who live in the uptown area of Dallas. Even though uptown is known for being a fast-paced, upscale area, going to church is very much a cultural thing in Dallas, so many of these young professionals come to our ministry. We have about 120 young adults who attend every week. It’s been fun to see the truth being realized, because the message Aaron teaches is very contrary to the Dallas lifestyle.
4word: Can you define the “Dallas lifestyle?”
McKenzie: It means that your identity as a young adult is tied to how much money you make. It’s very materialistic and based on appearances. There’s also a groupthink in the uptown girl culture: I need to have the same socio-economic status as my parents.
Many of these young women grew up in a very high-income area of Dallas, surrounded by a lot of wealth. They think that’s the standard of living they need to have right now. Even if they only make $35,000 a year, they are still trying to live like their parents do: having the latest watch or bag, wearing the right clothes, even athletic clothes for a work out!
When you have a lot of young adults who are in debt from college but trying to live their parents’ lifestyles, the result is that many are living off credit cards. So there is a lot of self-medicating going on too, in the bar scene.
4word: So how does the Dallas lifestyle affect your relationship with other women? With guys?
McKenzie: With other women, I think these girls genuinely desire to be known and have authentic relationships, but they are gun shy about being open with one another. I get phone calls and emails all the time asking for small groups to join.
Usually, these girls will get each other’s numbers and go grab coffee, go to happy hour or just hang out together. They do take those steps to go deeper with one another, but it’s hard and slow getting to the point where they can take that mask off and not have to act like they have it all together.
With guys, I think it’s typical of any gathering of Christian young adults. You see guys looking at the girls and girls looking at the guys. They recognize that meeting someone at church is more ideal than meeting someone at a bar. And we do try to encourage the guys and girls to mingle. A large group of us always go out to eat afterwards.
4word: And how does the Dallas lifestyle affect your relationship with God?
McKenzie: If your everyday life lens is “I must clean myself up and look like I have it together,” the idea of grace is lost to you. You don’t see yourself as being before a God you can’t clean yourself up for, so you try to earn God’s favor instead of looking to the cross as His ultimate stamp of approval on you. It’s very much about earning your right before God.
It is never my position to judge someone’s salvation, but something I’ve seen with these girls is a cultural Christianity. I’ve had some scary conversations with girls who call themselves Christians but who cannot articulate the gospel even though they’ve attended PCPC their whole lives.
So that is a danger I’ve seen, but I can also say that it’s been a joy to work for this ministry and watch these women realize the truth about God and the enormous grace and love He has for them.
So what do you think, ladies? If you live in Dallas, have you noticed the effects of the “Dallas lifestyle?” If you don’t live in Dallas, we’re curious: does your city have a similar lifestyle? Or is it completely different from Dallas’? Let us know in the comments!