Growing your single moms’ ministry is a frequent topic we are asked at our ministry headquarters. Many churches are beginning to see the significance of hosting single parent support groups, ministries, and events, as part of their discipleship and outreach programs on an ongoing basis. Having a single moms ministry in your church is vital to enhance ongoing efforts in the body of Christ to make single parents feel welcomed, seen, heard, and valued. Sadly, single parents are the fastest-growing sector of our population, and many arrive at their journey to no fault of their own. We must be strategic with our ministry efforts in order to be effective.
You’ve started your single moms support group, ministry, outreach program, and/or Sunday school class, and…nothing. Crickets. No one comes. You see very little growth. You are not getting much response from the ads in the church bulletin or the flyers you’ve distributed in town. Or maybe the ministry has been going on for years and it is simply stagnant, hosting the same 4-6 ladies it has for years. What next? The Life of a Single Mom Ministries has been conducting single moms’ support groups throughout the nation for more than a decade. In fact, our founder started a single moms support group in her local church with only 3 single moms that later grew to reach hundreds of single mothers, as one of the largest single mom’s ministries in a church in the U.S.! Here are the most important techniques we’ve used to grow single moms’ ministries!
Here are a few tips that can help you kick-start your program:
- Relationship development comes first. Oftentimes, we see leaders of single moms’ support groups become so overzealous for teaching single parents about parenting or finances or any number of other single parent issues that they forget that relationships lead to ministry. In other words, it is very hard to invest into someone’s life and give advice, encouragement, and correction, if you have never learned who they are. Take the time in your ministry to learn who your attendees are. Spend the time getting to know their story. It is more important to the develop the relationship than it is to cover the 15 points of your Bible study curriculum for the week. Now, that may seem counterproductive to what you are trying to do, which is help them grow in their walk with the Lord, but we’ve found, time and again, that single mothers are much more open to the 15 points of the Bible study, once they know that you love them.
- Be open to change. This is the single biggest reason that most of the single mothers’ ministries throughout the U.S. aren’t growing. We must be open to change and be creative. If something isn’t working, change it. Pray about it and ask God for wisdom. Maybe you’ve always had your single moms support group on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night, because that’s when all the other Bible studies are meeting. Maybe that was convenient for you, because the church was already hosting childcare during those times. Or maybe you held your group on a Monday or Tuesday night, because “it’s always been that way.” Consider changing your meeting days to weekends (preferentially Friday nights or any time Saturday). Consider changing your length of meetings to be no more than an 1.5. Consider changing the structure of the meetings. (30 minutes fellowship & food, 30 minutes teaching, 30 minutes discussion time).
- Teach relevant materials. What are you teaching? Is it tailored to single mothers’ journey or simply the latest book by a popular Christian author? Single mothers need help in parenting, finances, and overall emotional & spiritual growth. These 3 categories are the cornerstone to their journey. Teach what will work and resonate with them. Additionally, two out of three single mothers are not attending a local church. This means, we need to teach things to resonate with them, and also consider their understanding of the Bible, if they are unchurched. (Please note: this point in now way indicates that all single mothers are unchurched or aren’t highly educated in Biblical knowledge, but simply reflects the needs of many of the single mothers you’ll be working with!) Considering that some single mothers may be still healing from trauma, battling bitterness, or feel so far removed from the Proverbs 31 woman that she cannot even comprehend being that girl! Take the time to teach materials that will resonate with her life season. The Life of a Single Mom offers 3 Bible studies that include a leader’s guide and study guide and covers any single mom-centric topics. We also offer bulk book discounts. For more information, visit HERE. We also have 100+ classes in Single Mom University that many ministry leaders are using as a video teaching series. You can check that our HERE.
- Consider adding something new. Growing ministries are those who can keep things fresh and new. You don’t have to do things “the way you’ve always done them.” Host a single moms’ exercise night or self-defense class. Host a cooking class or nutrition class. Consider a single mom’s game night or karaoke night. Maybe a fun night of Taboo is just what the ministry needs to forge relationships. Laughing together creates strong bonds. What about a Mother’s Day Program for single moms’? A free Ask-A-Lawyer day with community lawyers? A single moms’ free oil change day? There are hundreds of ways to serve single mothers. Maybe the simplest ideas of implementing ice breakers into your single mom’s groups or switching up the order of the night are ways that will liven up the ministry. When you are open to creative ideas, the possibilities are endless.
- Consider the participants who are not yet here. Many times, we see single parent support group leaders surveying their current participants about changes that could be made within the ministry. (E.g. Do you want to change the nights of our meetings? Do you want to open up our study to single moms in the community, instead of those just in our church? Do you want to meet more/less frequently?) And yes, it’s important t know what those attendees think. But two out of three single mothers aren’t attending a local single moms’ ministry, so we must always consider the ones who are not yet here. Many times, a single moms’ group stays at only 4 or 5 attendees, because those attendees are only focusing on what works best for them. The questions must shift from “me” to “we”. When we begin to ask questions, such as “How would those girls who are not yet attending a church feel if we opened up the group to them?” or “How much more convenient might a twice per month Bible study be for busy single moms, rather than having one every week?” Once leaders shift focus to those who have not yet started in their programs, there is great potential for new growth.
- Have fun and be flexible. Play games. Have fun contests. Be creative. If your support group is always 6-7 women sitting around sharing woe-is-me stories, your group won’t grow. If your support group is always 22 minutes of teaching 8 minutes of prayer, and 3.4 minutes of socializing, it becomes boring and predictable. Have fun. Be flexible. Enjoy the fellowship. If you don’t get to all 10 points you had prepared for this week’s lesson, it’s okay. Flexibility can mean great fun, and it keeps your participants excited and coming back (and bringing a friend)!
- Leaders, single moms support group is NOT time for you to share your story. Too often single mom’s support groups grow dry or stagnant, because the leader(s) thinks this is their time to share all about their divorce, their hardships, and their story. It isn’t. These women need to see Jesus not us! Our stories are merely used in bits and pieces to further enhance God’s faithfulness.
- Don’t judge. Sometimes, we forget where the Lord has brought us from and we are tempted to be judgmental know-it-alls who are pointing fingers at the wrong in someone’s life. We don’t mean to do it. It isn’t our heart or intention, but we do it nonetheless. Be conscious of where your heart is towards single moms. Recognize their journey is different. Their growth track with the Lord is different and they may not “get it” as quickly or in the same way as you did. Be loving, kind, compassionate, and full of wisdom and empathy for their situations. People go where they are loved, and love changes things!
- Host a special single mom’s event. Plan an exciting night of worship, single mothers Christmas party, “relaunch” party, roller skating night, or any special event. People get excited about events. They love one-time gatherings that seem special, unique, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Hosting a single moms’ event may be just the thing you need to attract new single mothers that are not yet connected to a ministry. For more info on planning a single moms event, visit our Ministry Leader’s Page.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com