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.
With almost 15 million single parents in the country today, many churches are beginning to focus on the need to minister to single parents more effectively. There can be tons of questions about how to minister to the needs of single parents in a more effective, creative, long-term way. One of those ways is through a single moms support group. It provides long-term discipleship, beyond simply an outreach, one-time event, or meal.
For those who have not started a single moms support group in your church, here are a few things you may want to know. For those who have started a group and are frustrated with the lack of growth or possible issues within the group, read on. We'll try to help you with those questions, too.
Before I launched The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, I was fortunate enough to work and attend a great church that allowed me to explore what works and what doesn't with this people group. I made lots of mistakes along the way, but service within the church allowed me to gain great wisdom and insight on ministering to single mothers.
Here are a few things I've learned that may help you in your single moms ministry endeavor:
- Recognize that not every single mom is a "churched" divorced single mom. Less than 1% of the 300,000 Christian churches in the country have single parent support groups. The few that do often focus on the single moms that are already in their church. This is a big problem, in light of the fact that only 33% of single moms attend church. In order to grow your support group, you must focus on reaching those outside your church.
- Teach relevant material. In my work with helping to grow single parent groups, one of the first things we do is change the teaching material. Many of the groups are teaching deep Bible studies on the book of Ruth, the Proverbs 31 woman, etc. While these are excellent teaching tools for the future, focusing on deep Bible study, when a single mom's life is potentially falling apart (financially, emotionally, and with her parenting skills) is not a timely message.
- Meet at a time that is convenient for the mom. Friday nights, Saturday nights, or Sunday afternoons tend to work best. Moms who are parenting school-age children have homework to contend with. Wednesday nights tend to be most convenient for the church, as childcare workers are already available, but this is probably not the best time for the mothers. And if you want to begin to reach outside the walls of the church to bring in mothers who aren't yet connected, offering a more convenient meeting time is critical. In addition, a full work-week tends to make a single mom's support group a daunting task, not a welcomed break......but if you meet on a weekend, she is more relaxed and open to receive new friendships and experiences.
There are a ton of tips that we have found work, but this gives you a brief start. Having said all that, recognize that groups do not grow overnight. Be diligent and faithful with the women you have! For more information on answering all single parent ministry questions, training new volunteers, growing the ministry, effective discipleship, logistics, and so much more, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and Chief Executive Officer for The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. TLSM is a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mother walk alone. The focus of the ministry is to equip and empower churches to best reach single mothers.