The single-parent family is the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. It is estimated that there are currently 15 million single mothers in the United States and they are raising approximately 22 million children. (US Census Bureau, 2010) Many churches are beginning to see single mothers’ ministry as a necessary part of their overall ministry plan.
The Life of a Single Mom Ministries works with churches, communities, and corporations throughout the United States to develop single moms’ ministries, support groups, events, and programs that will meet the needs of single mothers, ensure their children are thriving, and thereby, impact and change lives. The needs of single mothers are multi-faceted and complex. Single mothers arrive at their journey in a variety of ways, including divorce, adoption, death, and many other ways. And single mothers are diverse in age, race, socioeconomic status, and story.
The first step in meeting the needs of single mothers in your community is to recognize that two out of three single mothers don’t go to church anywhere. This means that the single mother-led family is an open mission field of opportunity for the local church. It also means the needs of the single mothers must be considered that are beyond your church walls. Single moms’ ministries must be implemented with intentional, strategy, and long-term sustainability in mind. To learn more about effective tools, resources, and ways to grow, improve, or launch a single moms’ ministry in your church, visit our Help for Ministry Leaders page.
Beyond the implementation of the single moms support group, there is much discussion about the needs of their children. Many ministries we have found focus on one or the other – the single moms or the kids. Educational programs often focus on children alone. Parenting Initiatives focus on mothers alone. The goal of effective ministry is to minister to the needs of the children and also the mothers, so that we aren’t addressing half the problem. For example, we can’t fix our educational system, if we don’t address the fact that we are sending children back into homes of single mothers who are often so depressed they can’t get out of bed. In other words, comprehensive family ministry approaches work best.
Ministering to the needs of single mothers’ children should consider the following:
- Establish a single moms’ ministry that offers free childcare. This can be done very organically through a volunteer database. (We recommend background checks, of course). We often say that single mother’s ministries without childcare is like a potluck with no food. It doesn’t work.
- Establish a mentoring program. This program will allow Godly men to establish long-term relationships with children within the single moms’ ministry. There are several great programs that work with establishing mentor plans in churches. The Mentoring Project and Fathers in the Field are just a couple that we like.
- Consider the curriculum that you use in the single moms’ children ministry. Don’t just babysit the kids. Teach them something. This is a great opportunity for ministry and even salvation opportunities for kids. We like Manners of the Heart and Life Factors.
- Do special events with the kids. When a child has been abandoned by a father or lacks a positive role model, they often act out, withdraw, or become angry. Hosting special events for these children let’s them know that they are seen an loved. Ideas include kickball or basketball tournaments, game days, karaoke, field days, or even exercise classes! The possibilities for special events are only limited by your own imagination.
- Have a list of outside resources that are available. There’s no doubt that there will be situations and circumstances that will be beyond your scope of expertise. Maybe there is an abuse situation or a child who needs long-term therapy. Perhaps there is a situation where a mother needs assistance with paying for her child’s tuition or sports fees. Create a resource list that will assist in meeting those needs beyond what will be practical in a church setting. For ideas, you can check out our national ministry resource list HERE.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.