By Jennifer Maggio, Crosswalk.com
5 Reasons Your Church Needs to Change Your Single Moms' Ministry Plan
With approximately 22 million single parents in the United States today raising approximately 25 million children, the numbers cannot be ignored. Churches shouldn’t be ignoring ministries plans to these families either. Over the last 50 years, the number of single parent-led families has more than doubled and the challenges these families face can seem insurmountable. While this demographic hosts a wide range of stories, socio-economic statuses, religious backgrounds, educational levels, and geographic locations, requiring slightly nuanced ministry changes, one thing is for certain. Churches need to be intentional and creative about how to reach single moms and children in their communities in meaningful and long-term ways.
Over the last 10 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in single parent family ministries, single mom outreach plans, fatherless mentoring projects, and similar such services in churches. Sitting at the helm of a ministry that exists to see that no single mom walks alone, that fact is exciting! What’s more exciting is thinking of all the single mothers and children who are impacted by these efforts. But there are some key considerations on how to do effective single moms’ ministry, pitfalls to avoid, and creative ways to give your ministry a new look that churches should be considering, particularly in a post-pandemic era, where many churches are having to strategize new formats anyway.
Here are 5 reasons your church needs to change your single moms’ ministry plan for long-term, effective impact:
1. Your church doesn’t currently have a plan. Some churches have not yet embarked on a specific and intentional single moms’ ministry plan. Maybe you’ve done a one-time event every now and again. Perhaps you think that the singles’ ministry, 12-week parenting class, or divorce recovery ministry at your church encompasses these families. Maybe you are thinking that these families are acclimating into another component of church life. Maybe you’ve even thought, Well, we really don't have any single moms in our church, so is there a real need? While it is true that singles’ ministry, parenting classes and one-time outreaches do indeed have single mothers in attendance, we have found that the overwhelming majority of single moms do not plant in those ministries long-term. They visit, but they are looking for something
2. Your ministry plan only includes one-time outreaches. While one-time outreaches have been part of many churches’ ministry plan through the years, they are simply not enough. The annual Christmas party, oil change, Mother’s Day Tea, or clothing drive is not going to be enough to make meaningful change. Now, don’t get me wrong. Something is better than nothing and these outreaches serve a powerful purpose of meeting needs! However, churches must think beyond the one-time conferences and outreaches and have both one-time touches and long-term discipleship plans. This includes launching a new single moms’ Bible study, connect group, ministry, or formal gathering place for these moms to regularly connect with others who are in their life journey. For more information on launching a group in your church, visit HERE.
3. The ministry has grown stagnant. Sometimes our ministries just need a facelift, a way to get the creative juices flowing and look at new ways to achieve the mission. Even the most effective ministry plan has a shelf life. In some cases, the group may need a new leader. Sometimes, a fresh advertising approach will do the trick. Still other times it will require polling single mom attendees to see what works and what doesn’t in the current ministry. Wherever you land, make no mistake that growth can be uncomfortable and change will likely be required to keep the ministry fresh. (Note: What keeps the ministry the most alive is the presence of the Holy Spirit! Having praying leaders and volunteers who can seek God’s face for the ministry is truly what transforms lives!)
4. Your church isn’t considering the unchurched single mom. Many churches cater to the single moms who are currently in the walls of the church, the ones who attend every Sunday, the ones who are active members of the body. And what special and valuable women they are! But in order to reach the lost and hurting, churches most also be thinking about the single moms who have not yet broached the doors of the church. What day of the week might they want Bible study? What time of the day? Should we offer free childcare and a meal? Should be intentional with our curriculum, so that even women who weren’t raised in the church can come and grow? There is much to be considered in the implementation of a single moms’ ministry plan.
5. Your single moms’ ministry won’t grow. Well, you answered the call, held the event, launched the Bible study, and stayed the course, and....only 2 women show up. It can seem really hard, when you have recognized a substantial need in your community for this type of ministry, prayed, planned, and prepared, and then attendance numbers don’t seem to reflect the hard work and effort that has been put in. First, be encouraged. If two women come to know Jesus in an intimate way and receive hope through your efforts, then it’s worth it. Next, know that there is help available. I began my single moms’ ministry journey 14 years ago and during that time, there was very little, if anything, on the market to train ministry leaders on how to serve single moms’ effectively. Today, many ministries have birthed to do just that! The Life of a Single Mom Ministries is one such ministry that is committed to help churches analyze their ministry plan and determine why a group may not be growing and ways to fix the problem. For more information on why your group isn’t growing, visit HERE.