Originally published Tuesday, 17 July 2012.
The Life of a Single Mom Ministries exists so that no single mom walks alone, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or story. Our passion is to see single mothers connected to the house of God, thriving and flourishing to live the life He intended. One way we do that is by helping churches establish long-term, healthy single moms support groups or ministries.
I consider it an honor and privilege to work beside some of largest churches and nonprofits in the world. In doing so, I have found some things that may hinder your single moms' ministry from growing and I wanted to share them with you (and hope we have your permission to be brutally honest):
1). Ministering only to single moms within your church will prohibit your ministry from growing. 67% of single moms are outside your church walls, so be sure to welcome in the community.
2). Failing to provide a free meal and free childcare will hinder growth within your ministry. Single moms are busy and often do not have the time or money to provide childcare themselves for a Bible study. In addition, providing a meal is a great way to bless the moms & their children. (Read the book,The Church and the Single Mom by Jennifer Maggio, for ways to provide this at little to no cost.)
3). Your meetings drone on and on. We suggest meetings to last only 1.5 hours. Single moms are busy and need to be able to plan their schedule for themselves and their children.
4). You are trying to integrate single moms' group on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning service. Weekday meetings are extremely hard for single parents who are juggling full-time jobs, soccer practice, second jobs, homework, and night classes. Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights are, by far, the best nights for single moms to get out. (No homework for kids, no night-time classes, no work the next day, etc).
5). You are afraid to change. I once heard a dynamic speaker say, "When women's ministries turns into women's miseries, it is time for a change." The same is true for single moms' ministries. Your church may have been doing the same thing for single moms, the same way, for 15 years. It may be time to shake it up a bit. Have some fun. Have some giggles. Give your ministry a face lift.
6). You need to plan an "event" to get the single moms in your church and community excited. There is no better way to attract some new faces (and regain some old ones) than to have a single moms' conference, night of beauty, night of worship, game night, or something similar.
7). Your leadership isn't diversified. In order to reach all single moms from all backgrounds and stories, it is important that the key leaders and volunteers within the ministry are diversified. For example, if you have exclusively 40-something divorcees in leadership positions, do not be surprised if teen moms aren't interested. We all want to know that someone understands our story. And when a new single mom walks into your ministry, she wants to see someone in the room who looks like her. It is a simple, but true statement.
8). The ministry leader for your single moms' ministry needs equipping. Maybe she's tired and needs some more volunteers. Maybe she was never properly trained on how to lead women. Maybe there is a wonderful teacher waiting to "bud", but she hasn't found her voice yet and needs some encouragement on how to do that. Or.....maybe the wrong leader is leading within the ministry. Maybe her time has drawn to a close and God is moving her into a new season of life.This last fact cannot be determined without great prayer, but it is crucial in the survival and thriving of your single moms ministry.Sometimes as ministry leaders who are desperate for workers (the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few...), we don't diligently seek God about who the right person is for the job. Consequently, we have some misplaced leaders within single moms' ministries who really need to be replaced. When done properly, this is beautiful for all involved, as it frees the current leader to fulfill the role God called her to, and it allows the new leader to also fulfill her role.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her own riveting story. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs, and founded The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, to equip the body of Christ on how to best meet the needs of single parent families. For more information on running an effective single moms ministry, please visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.