Originally published Tuesday, 10 April 2012.
Exposing the heart of God in reference to single mothers has become my life's passion - the fuel that wakes me in the morning. It has become an exciting journey that the Lord has me travelling, and I truly cannot wait to see the next step, where he leads next, who he sets free, and how he moves in the lives of single parents globally.
As I travel the country mobilizing churches on how to best meet the needs of single parents, inevitably I will run across a few pastors, leaders, volunteers, or church members who believe that their church does not need a single moms' program. (Some even try to passionately convince me - to no avail). Years ago, I would become frustrated and even angry with such statements, but now, I welcome them as an opportunity to provide additional information and watch the Holy Spirit move on hearts - as he so often does.
Here are some of the top objections I receive (and my um....... kind, compassionate, sometimes humorous, responses):
Single moms' ministries support unplanned pregnancy. Really? Does drug rehabilitation support drug and alcohol use? Does addictions' ministry support pornography? Do divorce recovery programs support divorce?
There are no single moms in my church. Well, madam, that is problem number one. With 15 million single parents in our country (and most of them are unchurched), there are definitely single parents in your community. The fact that they aren't already in your church leaves you with some wood to chop.
We already offer a divorce recovery class. Wonderful. We support divorce recovery programs. But what do the single mothers do AFTER they complete the class? Where do they go? What support group do they then attend? Also....what about all the single mothers out there who were never married?
We have a Singles' Ministry. Isn't that the same as a Single Moms' Ministry? No. Singles' Ministries (again, another program for which we support, as we know they add value to the church) in most churches is a co-ed program that caters to men and women who are in their 30s-50s. Consider the teen and 20-something single moms. They generally do not feel comfortable in the college and young professionals group. They are too young for the singles' ministry. Additionally, I highly recommend a Single Moms' Ministry be gender-exclusive to women only. Single mothers who have recently divorced or had an unplanned pregnancy suffer emotional brokenness and do not need the added pressure of a co-ed environment. They need to have a time with other mothers to simply share their journey and receive encouragement. (And before you single dads get upset with me, we love the single dads' Bible studies and support groups, too! We just want you to have fellowship separately). Single Moms' can always be part of the Singles' Ministry at your church.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parent's issues. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has appeared on more than 100 radio and television programs, including Moody Radio, The 700 Club, Focus on the Family, Daystar, and many more. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.