Think Spot - 4th August 2014
Is the Church Failing Single Parents? God’s plan is for a man and a woman to meet, marry, have kids and stay together “till death do we part”. That is God’s plan, and that is the best plan. For many reasons this model works best. Studies show that children thrive better in a loving home where Mommy and Daddy are committed to each other. Life (which we all know is not easy) is easier when there are 2 parents to share the load of parenting. As Christians we have been called by God, by our Lord, to set the example, to show the world that marriages can last 50+ years and be blessed and joyful, be full of romance and fun.
It doesn’t always happen. We live in a culture where divorce is rampant. We live in a time when women get pregnant before they get married. There are a lot of single moms out there, a lot of single dads too. The singleness happens for a variety of reasons, each single parent has a story. Maybe the mom was raped. Maybe the dad is a widower. Maybe Mom did everything right, she was married and then Dad for whatever reason, abandoned his family. Maybe they are a military family and Mom or Dad was transferred and then deployed right away, so all you see is 1 parent bringing the kid(s) to church.
What is the church doing to reach out to single parents? To make us feel just as welcome, just as loved, just as valuable as everyone else? Sadly, not nearly enough.
Too often the single parent is judged. The single parent feels like he/she is walking around with a scarlet letter. We are the lower class of the church. We see the looks, we hear the whispers, we strive to fit in, but we don’t. We don’t go to the couples classes, but we are parents so we don’t feel like we fit in with the childless singles. Finding the right Sunday School class is hard!
Then, there is service. We sit there alone, surrounded by families. We are doing our best to teach our kids to sit quietly and be proper worshipers during service and before Children’s Church. What do we do when our toddler needs to use the rest room? Do we make the others come with us (and disrupt everyone around us as we get up), or leave them? Logistics are hard when there is just 1 parent and multiple young kids.
We’d love to come to mid week Bible studies, but our budget is TIGHT and affording a sitter is a luxury.
There are easy fixes the church could do to be the church to single parents.
Be friendly! Don’t judge. I know it is hard to give up judging, to let God do that. Take the time to get to know us. Ask us our story. Chances are we haven’t had many people take the time to listen. If you do you will probably find out we are not harlots. Even if we did choose to have sex outside of marriage and we have a child that does not give you a right to judge & treat us differently. You sin too! Jesus went to the cross for you too. This is the biggest thing the church needs to do. LOVE US!
Have a Sunday School class for parents or even for single parents. Meet our needs. We want to grow in our relationship with Jesus. We want our kids to grow up to love Jesus, to serve Him and have compassion for others. To do that, we need to have our spiritual needs met, we need to be fed. We need a safe place where we can share our lives with others. That is what Sunday School should be.
If you offer mid week services or Bible studies, offer free child care. There may be married couples that need this as well as the single parents.
Celebrate the single parent. They doing something that is very hard for married couples, and single parents are doing it alone. We love our kids, but our job is often without praise. We are hesitant about Mother’s/Father’s Day. We feel weird buying something for ourselves, so take our kids and help them! Buy Mom pizza once in awhile, and have a picnic with her. Take Dad and the kids fishing.
The Church exists to show Jesus to world, to lift up and encourage Believers. We each have a personal journey. We made the attempt and we are at church. Now, it is up to each member to be lift each other up. To look beyond the situation and see the soul, see what Jesus sees and love as Jesus loves. Every member (single, married, whatever) needs to feel loved, welcomed and at home in church.
Let’s do better for our single parents, let’s be their safe, loving, helpful place. Let’s end the judgment and be Jesus to them. Single parents should look forward to church, to the chance to be loved, to worship freely, to be fed and encouraged.
How is your church doing? How are YOU doing?
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