Finding what works when ministering to single moms is like running a giant obstacle course for most of us women’s ministry leaders. The number of single moms is on the rise and is projected to continue to grow.
In an attempt to minister to single moms in my church, we had an epic fail. Two of the more experienced single moms in my church wanted to lead a single moms’ discipleship class on Sunday mornings. Not recognizing or understanding the harm of labeling from the single moms’ perspective, the class was named, “Single Mom’s Class.” Epic fail! No young woman wanted to be called out for being a single mom, the class name came across as saying “this is the class for misfit moms who have failed in some way.” Not what was intended!
How can we as women’s ministry leaders make an impact that truly helps single moms? There are several things we shouldn’t do balanced with a lot of what we can do.
Single moms are moms. Most single moms want to be included in women’s ministry activities as a woman rather being labeled as a single mom. Using labels that attempt to explain categories of single moms will send them running away from church (such as divorcees, unwed moms, etc.).
While having activities to help encourage and make single moms feel special is great, separating single moms at larger activities is seen as an attempt to isolate and condemn their status.
Judgmental attitudes (through words and actions) are hurtful to this group of women. Not all single moms have the same stories or the same circumstances. Recognizing single moms as individuals with individual needs is more encouraging.
With the population of single moms growing, it’s a large group to ignore, but it’s happening in many churches. As a church, recognizing the needs of the single mom is crucial to reaching her and her children.
1. Model boundaries.
We cannot solve all of a single mom’s problems. But we can help. When we help within our limitations as we demonstrate healthy relationships.
2. Find resources.
There are resources available in every city and town. Weeding through all of the available resources to discover the best, most helpful ones is a great help to single moms.
Partnering a single mom with a prayer warrior will give her the courage to face each day.
- Always have childcare! Vouches for babysitters work great.
- Enlist the men’s help, such as a day of free automotive care. Nothing says love like a free oil change!
- Help with home repairs is always needed. Compile a list of reputable home repair companies. Give single moms an electronic and printed copy to have on hand when the need arises.
- Have a pamper day with free spa treatments, lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant, and plenty of free time for building relationships.
- My church is setting up a fund for single moms to be used for emergencies, education expenses, and other types of aid. The money for the fund will be raised through an annual golf tournament.
Ministering to single moms is a challenge, but with prayer and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we can successfully minister to this group of moms. Remember, a single mom is a mom, just like every mom with unique needs and circumstances.
Also remember: Wives of deployed military personnel also need special care and attention. These women are temporary single moms and face the challenge of missing their spouse and being in charge of the household. This group of moms needs loving on the same way we do for single moms.
Dr. Deb Douglas is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier, launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is also a freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised & Expanded. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts of Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and Jacob, and grandmother to Caroline.