Originally published Tuesday, 05 June 2012.
With a growing number of churches within the body of Christ embracing the need to minister to single parents, many questions have arisen (along with a little confusion) regarding the topic. While I wouldn't dare paint every church or situation with the same brush, I want to take some time today to answer the most frequently asked, straight-forward questions we receive as a ministry about single moms support groups, their existence within churches, and much, much more.
Doesn't single moms ministry support single parenthood? No. As the body of Christ, we should continue to teach sexual purity and forever-marriage, but ... the reality is that we all have fallen short of God's glory. And while some single mothers exist through no fault of their own, some have also made mistakes. Regardless of their arrival to the journey, they are here. And we cannot ignore the need to minister and encourage them.
Why are you only promoting single moms ministry versus single dads ministries or single parents ministries? As someone who has a heart for single parents, I recognize that both single moms and dads exist, either as co-parents or sole custodians. And I have great compassion for those dads that are single parents, too. However, statistics continue to support more than more than 97% of single parents in our country are women. Additionally, if a church sees a number of single dads who need support, we are supportive of opening a separate group for dads. The reality is that men fellowship differently, which is why mens' ministry looks different. What we want to avoid is having a co-ed environment that is no different than singles' ministry in churches today (which by the way, we love singles' ministries) in that many moms need to just be "women" without the added pressure that co-ed mingling sometimes brings. There is no right or wrong in this area. I am just sharing what I have seen works best.
Single moms' ministries just create division and further separate single moms, doesn't it? No more than Ladies Nights or Womens' Ministries separate women! We want single moms to be part of various groups at the church -- singles, women's ministry, volunteer opportunities, etc. But whether a mom has been parenting alone for a few months or for years, the journey is different than dual parenting, and the journey can be lonely. Single moms support groups allow for deep fellowship, the sharing of ideas, and encouragement.
One of the things I have heard you promote is that single moms' groups support church growth. That doesn't seem like a very good reason to launch one! Our sole mission as the body of Christ is to populate Heaven and plunder Hell! Our goal is to see souls transformed by the blood of Jesus. There are more than 9 million single mothers that are unchurched in the United States, and many, many are unsaved. Yes, it grows the church, because these women now have a place where they feel they belong. This may very well be the way that the unreached, unchurched single mom in your community comes to Christ. More opportunities equals a greater chance to share the plan of salvation. If a church leader needs to hear that it will grow the church in order for him to get on board, then so be it. It is a bold and grand idea that we, the church, actually be excited about growing the church.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who founded the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs and has a heart to see that no single mother walks alone. For more information on single mothers support groups, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.