Sometimes moms have to raise their children in less than ideal circumstances due to death, abandonment, or broken relationships. It’s tough enough being a mom with the built-in support system of a husband. So, having to go it alone seems nearly impossible. In this article, I strive to represent many of the countless single moms who are too busy to speak up for themselves. The plight of these women should be shared; after all, we are instructed by the Lord Jesus Himself that we should seek to bear the burdens of others. Moms and their children are no exception.
Serving Single Mothers in Your Church
What God has to say about single moms
Our God is “the God who sees”, El Roi. I was recently reading in the book of Genesis the story of Hagar, the handmaiden of Sarah. She conceived a son to Abraham which immediately provoked jealousy from the barren Sarah. Hagar was treated harshly and was eventually turned out to fend for herself, and her son, alone in the desert. There were two particularly difficult times in the course of her troubled story when she found herself almost completely destitute. When no one else was looking for her, God searched her out and found her. He made a grand promise that she and her son would live and that Ishmael would be the beginning of a great nation. It is in her story we get to see the intimate side of God.
Scripture also has something to say about women who have lost their husbands to death, leaving their children without a father. God is “a father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) and Psalm 146:9 informs us “He cares for the widows and orphans.” We are ambassadors for Christ and we are the hands and feet of God. In the New Testament, there are several passages that mention the importance of looking after widows and orphans, “Pure religion before God is this to look after orphans and widows” (James 1:27). We should be making every effort to seek out and serve this sector of our society and show God’s heart of compassion towards them.
I should also address the category of single moms who stand up for the life of their unborn child and are then left alone to take on the responsibility. The culture of convenience might support another “option” but these women have taken the step to be the first hero in their baby’s life. They may have made a mistake but God does not make mistakes. Psalm 139 is the poster passage for the value of a human life. Many Christians have spent an abundant amount of time and resources to save lives from the clutches of abortion, but what is done to support the resulting reform? How are we caring for mothers after they decide to keep their babies? I read recently that 1,000 teenagers a day become single moms. I realize there is a deeper problem here, but the immediate one screams for attention. These babies have value because God himself assigned them value. Their mothers are no less important. Whatever the history is of the precious single moms we meet, God is merciful and has called us to be servants of His mercy.
Not just another singles group
With over 10 million single moms in America as one of the fastest growing sectors of our society, churches need to open their eyes and their doors to this often overlooked ministry opportunity. Creating a group specifically chartered to serve single moms would be ideal, but even if you don’t have the resources to create a separate ministry, effort should be made to be intentional about including them. Most single moms do not fit in the standard singles group, because they have kids; and of course, they won’t fit in with a couples group, because they have no spouse. Perhaps find the commonality within these groups and create opportunities for a strong network of support and care. Personally extend invitations to events that might be relevant to single moms like financial training, parenting classes, and other networking and support efforts.
Practical ways the church can serve single moms
When my husband is called away on business, taking on the everyday task of raising my young boys gets a little bit harder. When I need the chance to step away and retool, I have no backup. When the need for a masculine perspective arises or a difficult decision needs extra insight to be made, it has to wait. In these times I start to realize how helpful it is to partner in our children’s rearing. Single moms cannot put things on hold until dad comes home, these challenges and responsibilities confront every waking minute.
If we desire to minister to these precious women, physical needs must be met before addressing the spiritual ones. This kind of consideration helps to identify various ways we can relieve some of the enormous pressure a single mom is under:
1. Childcare: Identify single moms in your community and offer to babysit. Make sure childcare is provided for church events so that single moms can participate. Host a single parents’ day out where childcare is provided by a high school group or college group ministry.
2. Social Network/Support: Be a friend. Start a single parent support group opportunity. Maybe even create a Facebook group under your church that is specific to single moms. This would could be a great place for other single moms to connect, share prayer requests and grow together as a community.
3. Fix-it: Perhaps there are mechanics and handymen in your church who can volunteer their time to work on cars or make home repairs.
4. Donate: Find out what the needs are and post or announce those things. Give people in your church the opportunity to donate appliances, kid’s clothes, toys, furniture, etc. These things add up to a big chunk of change, donating them can relieve some of the financial burden experienced by many of our single moms.
There are many single moms who fight hard every day for the physical, spiritual and emotional need of their families. Let’s make every effort to assist them by demonstrating God’s heart of compassion. We can make a profound impact not only on single mothers but on the next generation as well.