Originally published Wednesday, 19 September 2018.
Top Tips for Running Single Parent Program In Churches:
With 15 million single mothers in the United States today, raising approximately 25 million children, it is important for the body of Christ to understand the best practices to start, grow, or improve a single mom’s program within the church. There are several things to consider. Here are just a few:
Suggested meeting times for single moms ministries are always on the weekend (Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday night) and usually twice per month. More means your volunteers get worn out. Less means you may not get the same relationship-building. Wednesday night and Sunday morning groups will traditionally have less attendance.
Logistics. Always provide a meal, childcare, and start and end on time. Providing a meal meets a practical need for a mom who may be financially struggling. It further eliminates a barrier that would prevent her from regularly attending the group. Additionally, having a single mom’s Bible study without having childcare is like having a potluck with no food! You simply cannot do it. Starting and ending on time is important for a few reasons. First, single moms are working two jobs, balancing homework and carpool, and are simply exhausted. Honoring the start and end time may be important for her to continue to come regularly.
Recruit, train, and empower volunteers. They want to serve. NEVER TELL ANYONE NO in regards to volunteering. Volunteers are the backbone of most of our churches, communities, and ministries. We need them. Use them to the fullest. Make sure to diversify your volunteer base – race, age, etc. It helps promote diversity within your group. Give single moms something to do. It will keep them coming back out of obligation, at least, at first. It also helps to ease discomfort for a shy attendee.
Consider what you are teaching. 2 out of 3 single moms are unchurched. Some of them aren’t in a place where they can emotionally or spiritually handle in-depth teachings on Revelations. Now, before I get 100 emails indicating how important God’s Word is, let me just say, “I agree. I 100% agree.” However, when a single mom has been far off the path, maybe beat herself up emotionally, or has had a series of events that have left her traumatized, insecure, and unsure of God’s love for her, it’s important to consider the content of the single mom’s ministry teaching. Keep it relevant and short. Single parent topics can include Parenting, Finances, and Spiritual health. (Parenting Teens, Parenting through Difficulties, Money Management & Budgeting, Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical Health)
Utilize social media. Be active. Be relevant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FB Groups & Pages, Pinterest, Texts, and Email database
Have fun and be open to change. Switch it up! Be fun. You don’t have to cover 18 points in one meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide. Do Scavenger Hunts. Do “field day” games. Just enjoy the ministry. You may be called to launch your program, but not lead it. Be prepared for those types of changes, too.
This isn’t the time to share your story! Leaders are there to facilitate and listen and give Godly advice when called upon. Don’t fall into the trap of talking about what you did, what happened to you, etc. It’s off-putting. These parents need to see Jesus, not us! Our stories are used in bits & pieces to exemplify God’s faithfulness.
Relationship development comes before ministry. Get to know the parents. Overzealous teaching on everything a parent is doing wrong shuts them down. As the relationship develops, the parent becomes more open to hearing from you. It is very hard to give advice, encouragement, and correction if you’ve not taken the time to know who they are.
Be open to change. Maybe you’ve always had your single mom’s support group on a Sunday morning. Maybe that was convenient for you or your church, as they were already hosting childcare at that time. Consider changing things up. Consider moving dates, times, days. Consider changing the length of your meeting, the teachers, the volunteers. Add something new. Growing ministries are the ones that keep things fresh and new. You don’t have to do things “the way you’ve always done them.” Allow God to give you a big vision and fresh ideas. His spirit changes lives. Always be open to change.
Plan a single parent event. Events create excitement. They reach the lost. They get the backslidden back in the doors. Events can be as varied as your imagination will allow. Events can evolve around a holiday or a season of your church. They can be small or large, local, regional, or national. Get the word out. Create an I-have-to-be-there attitude. Do it well! Plan for a place to disciple them afterward. Events come after the launch of the event. Christmas parties, Easter outreaches, Night of Praise, Breakfast, Conferences, etc. Be creative. But you MUST have somewhere to plug them in before you have the event.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages, Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues. Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE.