Guest post by Rodney A. Wilson
At first glance, addressing the needs of single parents might appear as simple as 1) hiring a Pastor to Single Parents for your church staff, and 2) having a single parents small group. Problem solved. Case closed.
Not so fast. While small groups can be quite helpful, few churches have such a staff position. Consider the smaller picture, the one-on-one ministry of the church. The Body of Christ (the church) is the people. People who have struggles and pain; and people who are called to serve. (I think we all fit into both categories.) Since part of the purpose of the church is to “Carry one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2a HCSB), let’s look deeper into the subtler, “quieter” and often overlooked needs of the single parent and how we can help.We are to carry one another's burdens, so how do we do that for the often overlooked single parents? Click To Tweet
Here are three simple ways the church can love on the single parent:
1) Notice them. Oh, you might see them in the Sunday morning rush hour in the halls as they labor to get one kid into this class and older sister into another. But truly noticing them is to take a moment in your own rush hour to ask them how they are doing. Of course be prepared to listen and respond.
Many single parents drop out of church because it is so awkward for them. Cross the line. Break the ice. Tell them that you notice their faithfulness and you appreciate the effort they make in getting them kids there. Speaking care to them can be the beginning of building relationship with them and helping them feel part of the Body of Christ.
As mentioned, many of the needs of this group are personal, private and quiet. As relationship builds, trust can grow, the parent can begin to open up and the quiet and personal can be shared.
2) Be mindful of special calendar dates. As relationship develops, you can care for them year-round. For example, connecting with the parent on the anniversary of his/her spouse’s death can be powerful. She is probably not going to broadcast that date to everyone. For you to connect with them at that personal time can mean a lot.
Depending on the situation visit them (females with females), have them over for Thanksgiving dinner. Send them a card, especially if they are going through the holidays for the first time without their spouse. It’s not going to be a merry Christmas for them and your note can mean the world. Celebrate the birthday of the parent or the kids. All this says you (and the church) care about them.
Death anniversaries and birthday celebrations: excellent opportunities for us to be the church to this special group. Isn’t that our role as the church, to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; and weep with those who weep”? (Romans 12:15 HCSB)
3) Pray about the needs of single parents in your church. Ask God to open your eyes to their needs and how you can meet some of them. Ask God to give you a servant heart and spirit for them. Maybe you can assist in their chaotic Sunday morning routine. Could it be financial help they need? Sometimes just a “How can I pray for you?” can be just what they need. Pray about their needs and then again, be prepared to listen and respond.
Yes, this will be loading your plate a little more. No, you are not expected to meet every need they have but do your part. Use your gifts and that servant spirit you prayed for to serve these special people with special challenges in their lives. Indeed is their plate loaded!How can you help the single parents in your church and community? Here are some tips: Click To Tweet
They are a special people and I have said many times I think there is a special place in heaven for the single parent. Their needs are often overlooked. And yet, in showing compassion to the single parent by noticing them, walking with them through the year, and praying for them, giving them moral and practical support, you are helping the church function in the way it was meant to function. You are also being like Christ, who looked over, and then cared for, the often overlooked.