Ministry to Single Parents.
A few months ago I shared my heart on the the topic of being a single mother in a very old school Apostolic church. Following that article I was asked to share my views on what the church need to be doing for us single mothers and indeed fathers in church. While I cant speak for the single fathers, I am sure some of the 5 points below can be crossed over into a ministry for them too.
Let me know your thoughts.. Do any of your churches “CATER” too or for your single parents, if so what does it look like?
What we need is:
1. Acceptance: Within a church that is so intently (and rightly so) on marriage and the wholeness of marriage, we are dropped in the category of the broken, raising children in broken homes. This often feels as though our family unit is somewhat second class to that of a two-parent family. It should not matter how we have come to this single parent status, the fact is we are still mothers and we are still women. We still encounter the same feeling and struggles as any other women or mothers, it’s just that out circumstances are different. It’s important that the circumstance does not overshadow the core needs that still need to be met.
2. Understanding Our Priorities: Often we are not appropriately catered to as no one really understands what our priorities are. The typical marriage or family aimed seminars don’t always cater to single parents. We often get thrown into singles seminars with the perception that singleness is our priority – no – parenting is. Doing an adequate job of getting this little life from A – B as best as humanly possible is our priority.
3. Be Practical: Physical needs must be addressed and considered before you attempt to deal with the spiritual needs. The offer of prayer is a nice one, and to know that someone is praying for us is a blessing, but practically, the needs and demands in that of a single parent home can be very overwhelming. Generally, our pressures (much like any other home) circle around; Child care, Housing, Finance and Parenting. Consider the contribution to these. Additionally, considering we are so well informed about the impact it has on girls growing up without their fathers, or for boys who grow up without their fathers – the men’s ministry should be equipped and ready to step in as male figures in their life. Offering money in this case is not the practical solution here, engage with these daddy less daughters, engage with these fatherless sons. Don’t just assume the role is being covered, and don’t accept a weekend visit from their own biological fathers to
be sufficient. Be proactive and practical in addressing the needs.
4. Then Go Spiritual: Along the journey to single parenthood some women have encountered and come through some very traumatic childhoods, harsh and abusive relationships, heart breaking break ups (and downs) of marriages. Many of us are wounded and exhausted – at times limiting our initial ability to serve. For this period of time we need just that, time, patients and most of all love. Love Covers All. Many have to learn to trust again forgive again, overcome the past, have our hearts mended while learning to forgive ourselves. This takes time. The implementation of mentors – where older women are matched with younger women who are to provide a line of accountability for her as well as a safe place to be human.
5. Allow Us To Grow: Serving in the church allows mothers to feel a part of the fellowship rather than an outcast being held up by their past. This act as a healing for the mother and adds value not only to the church but to the Kingdom. This will come via encouragement from the body to serve and personal invitation to continue to do so. If there is an identified gifting / ministry identified – fan the flame! Encourage and support the growth, support the development.