I recently wrote an article entitled, "Why Single Moms Don't Go to Church" in response to my opinion on why almost 70% of single mothers in our country are not actively involved in the local body of Christ.
Within minutes of its release, our ministry received hundreds of responses via social media, emails, and comments. Single moms poured their hearts out on the pages that followed. Here are a couple of the many responses (names withheld):
"I'll tell you why single moms don't go to church! Because this past Mothers Day, when the pastor called all the couples up so the husband can pray over their wives, I felt like a complete idiot! My older children just looked at me pathetically sitting there with my 2 year old on my lap. A most embarrassing moment and at church no less! I have no family and few friends.My kids cling to their father, because he has a family to share with them, a new girlfriend, and all the fun. More rejection, more alone, more isolation from my church for not being remarried. This stinks!!!" - A frustrated single mom
"When I worked in children's ministry years ago, I talked with our pastor about helping a single mom with transportation to and from church. His response? 'Do we really want that type of mom in our church anyway?' I decided then and there that something had to be done. " - a ministry leader
"We held a single moms class in our church for a brief period of time, but very few moms committed, so why bother?" - a pastor
Personally, I had a similar experience many years ago. I was a young, single mom who was barely existing in the church, because I was so ashamed of my circumstances. One particular Mother's Day, the pastor called all the moms to the stage and asked their husbands or children to come pin a corsage to their blouse. My children were both under two at the time and obviously, I had no spouse. I stood there several minutes, smiling, wondering what to do. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, a woman noticed me and quickly rushed to pin a flower on me, before we exited the stage. I was beyond embarrassed. I have never forgotten that moment, or the many like it, that I experienced in my years of parenting alone. And I know that the Lord reminds me daily of such moments, so that I arise every morning, refueled with the passion to see single mothers living a life of freedom that only Christ brings.
Pastors, ministry leaders, and church members, I urge you to get involved in the fight to see our single mothers connected to the house of God, the fight to see our fatherless children mentored and encouraged. If your first thought is, "Well, we don't have any single moms in our church," then I respectfully submit to you that that is problem number one! With 15 million single mothers in our country and approximately 9 million not connected to a local church, there is much work to be done.
If you are thinking, "Well, we did a 10-week single parenting class for them" or "We do occasional outreaches for them," then please understand that if you have no long-term support groups, Sunday classes, or ministries for them, they likely will not stay. Sustainable, healthy ministry, where people can be discipled, is what changes lives. Less than 1% of all Christian churches do anything for single moms. And of the few who do, many simply do not know how to sustain a long-term single moms support group, ministry, or Sunday School class.
And finally, you may be thinking, "The single moms in our church seem to be doing just fine with where they are." And that may very well be true. You may have some amazing single moms who are thriving. Glory be to God. But, there are many others who are often drowning in debt, feelings of isolation, and parenting woes. Set up a single moms program, so that your thriving single mothers can mentor the ones who need the help.
TLSM Ministries exists to see that no single mother walks alone. We are excited that many of the churches across the nation are finally "getting it", and we are here to help. We exist to lovingly equip and teach the church how to meet the needs of single moms through successful single moms support groups, resources, and events. We have helped hundreds of churches in 19 countries launch or grow a successful single moms program. Let us help you.
For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.