Churches often look for creative new ways to reach unchurched people groups through outreach, ministry, and discipleship programs. Healthy churches also evaluate their current programs to ask the questions about why they are doing a certain program, whether or not it’s still effective, and ways to better “see” the unseen. We love those kinds of churches – the ones who aren’t afraid to self-analyze, try something new, or rid themselves of programs that no longer work. Single moms’ ministries, support groups, Sunday school classes, and outreaches are all a fairly new concept for most churches, when compared to the existence of women’s ministry, youth ministry, or even college & young professional programs in churches.
For some, the idea of single moms’ ministries evokes strong emotion. If you are one or were raised by one, it is likely that you are moved immensely with compassion regarding the need to minister to this precious people group. If you don’t have as much life experience with the issue, maybe there hasn’t been divorce or unwed pregnancy in your family or close circle, you may vehemently oppose the idea of single moms’ ministry. There may even be some who fear single moms’ ministries somehow glorify single motherhood, promote divorce, or even endorse unwed pregnancy. This is where The Life of a Single Mom Ministries steps in. We are a one-stop shop for all things single mom ministry related.
First, we are an education tool to raise awareness regarding the statistics facing single mothers, the need for churches to have a single moms’ ministry, and the details about what a single moms’ program is and is not. We provide a step-by-step guide on how to creatively launch or improve a single moms’ program in your church, including coaching, curriculum, and more than a decade of experience on the front lines of single moms’ ministries in churches of varying sizes and denominations.
Let’s start with the “why.”
We are often asked why a single moms’ ministry is even important in a local church. Our response? “How much time ya got?” There are a litany of reasons why single moms’ ministries are crucial to a church. First, did you know that according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, there are 15 million single parents raising approximately 22 million children? More than 80% of those single parents are single mothers. Beyond this reality, single mothers are often plagued with seemingly insurmountable obstacles including children who are 32 times more likely to run away from home, 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, and 5 times more likely to commit suicide (Fathermag.com and Father’s Manifesto 2008).
Aside from those realities, data supports higher likelihood of financial woes, parenting challenges, and overall sense of exhaustion. In short, single moms need our help. And by “our” we mean the church– the collective body of Christ. (Check out The Church and the Single Mom for Biblical references and stat citations). Ministry to single mothers often includes ministry to the “least of these”, “fatherless”, “broken”, and “hurting”.
Now, make no mistake! There are some amazing single moms who are shattering statistics daily, so we don’t mean to imply that single mothers or their children are destined to become a statistic! In fact, to the contrary! We believe, with God, all things are possible, and He’s in the statistic-shattering business! That’s why it is so important that our churches are on the front lines of ministering to single mother-led families.
We are very careful to point out what single moms’ ministry is not.
It is not a promotion of divorce or any anti-Biblical behavior. It’s important to first recognize that single moms arrive at their journey in a variety of ways. Some adopted from the foster care system. Others lost a spouse to death. Still yet, others were abandoned by a spouse and did nothing wrong. Yes, there are single moms who made poor choices, but even still, do we ignore the needs that exist? Do we ignore how loved they and their children are by God? Do we forever paint a mom with a scarlet letter, judge her, and eradicate her from our church? No, we are called to love. We are called to be filled with compassion – to see her the way Jesus does. Consider this. There is always a story behind the story. For every single mom you see, there could be layers upon layers of hurt, disappointment, pain, devastation, and even abuse.
Now, you know the what and why, but how?
How do you minister effectively to single mothers, especially if they have been hurt, judged, or ostracized from a local church? Begin with a single moms’ ministry plan. In short, it’s a gathering of single mothers hosted the church. Ideally, it is led by a current or former single mom, or at the very least, a woman who has personal experience with the journey (raised by a single mom, daughter is a single mom, etc.) It doesn’t have to be more sophisticated than that.
Each church’s structure is different, so maybe Sunday school class works for you or a connect group or life group. Maybe home groups are how your church is structured. Give single moms a place to gather. Consider the needs they have that include: parenting guidance, emotional & spiritual support, networking opportunities, making friends who are in similar life seasons, and financial support. Host single moms groups and provide a free meal for them to enjoy during the meetings. Provide childcare, so that they can participate. We recommend meeting 2 times per month for 1.5 hours. Food and childcare are a must and can be done at very low or no cost with volunteers. For more detailed information on how to launch a single moms’ ministry, check out our Single Mom Comprehensive Support Group Guide here.
The point is to consider the single mothers that are currently in your church and ways we can get support them. What’s more?! Consider the ones that are not yet there! Consider the single moms that sit longingly outside of your church walls with a deep desire to fit in somewhere, anywhere. Show her she is just as valuable to the body of Christ as any other and that she is loved by her King. Show her she is part of the flock. Mentor her kids. Offer to babysit. In other words, let us BE the church. For additional ideas on ways a church or individual can serve single moms, check out 25 Ways to Serve Single Moms HERE.
For more tips & tricks for your ministry, check out the FREE articles below or visit the ministry leader’s help tab on our website!
Jennifer Maggio was once a homeless, severely abused, single mom of two children who had no money, no friends, and no hope. She was certain no one could understand how hard her life was. Her journey through the next several years and the hope that she found through Christ has been an inspiration to millions of single mothers and hurting women. Today, Maggio is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom and author of four single parenting books. She has a passion to see women living free from their pasts and is on a mission to see that no single mom walks alone. For more information, visit jennifermaggio.com.