Imagine a family that is active in their local church and within a period of two years the following happens: a mother or father dies and the surviving parent is responsible for three school age children. Perhaps, instead, this same family has experienced a divorce with one parent leaving the home. Again, this same family may also be going through a grandparent being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and thus this same family will be undergoing another series of seismic shifts of distress.
Where are churches involved with these kinds of families?
The Biblical writers urge that the fatherless and the oppressed need to be defended ( Psalm 10:19). However, a lot of churches have focused their support traditionally for nuclear family, two-parent systems. Think about activities that some churches have promoted: Mother-Daughter Teas, Father-Son Banquets.
Children from single parent families can feel like the odd one out in trying to negotiate these activities.
Furthermore, factors like race and economic status can work against families and how well they might be able to receive support from churches:
“For single parents, who earn on average $22,026 compared to $35,042 (single adults with no children) and $33,179 (single adults with older children), being black or Hispanic as single mothers as black or Hispanic means earning $5,309 (black) and $1,304 (Hispanic) less than single white mothers.” The Parent Trap: The Economic Insecurity of Families with Young …www.demos.org/publication/parent-trap-economic-insecurity-families-young-children.
Children from poor single families may not be able to have access to resources that would help to be involved in a church, i.e. transportation, money, clothes, etc.
What could churches do to help and outreach to these families?
Several programs have been found to be effective:
“ DivorceCare 4 Kids is a unique, supportive ministry for children going through the effects of divorce. What’s unique about this single parent ministry is that in addition to meeting the needs of hurting children, DivorceCare 4 Kids helps to integrate single parents into the larger church family. In many instances, the adult leaders of DivorceCare 4 Kids classes are parents who…MORE themselves once participated in DivorceCare.
· Invite single moms and dads to a Bible study written to specifically address their unique needs. Visit your local Christian bookstore for suggestions, or take advantage of some online Bible studies for single parents offered by Christianity Today. Leaders can purchase one master copy for $5.95 and have permission to photocopy up to 1,000 copies for participants — so it’s quite affordable! Examples include:
- Balancing the Empty Checkbook – A single-session Bible Study on financial
- Dual Parenting – A single-session Bible Study on how to
co-parent effectively with your ex
- The Myth of the Perfect Parent – A single-session Bible Study that helps
parents dispel the myths that tear us down”
Find more studies at Christianity Today’s online store “Host Single Parent Ministries at Your Church – The Sprucehttps://www.thespruce.com › … › Parenting › Single Parents › Single Parent Resources
A number of years ago Court Street United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg ,MS embarked on a partnership with the Edwards Street Fellowship Center Edwards Street Fellowship Centeredwardsstreetfellowship.org/index.html. This agency sponsored by The United Methodist Church is providing free medical and dental care, a food pantry, a pet food pantry, as well as, a tutoring program for children from Kindergarten through Third Grade.
These programs are providing life-changing ministry to the residents Of Hattiesburg and to Forrest and Lamar counties in Mississippi.
As Lent continues, may we look inward and outward as to how we might further provide outreach to those who are in need. May ministry be ever-revolving just as the Kingdom of God is ever-evolving in our lives.
May it be so.