family pic

family pic

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Church & The Single Mom

Picture of some of the ladies from our new church.
This past year the boys and I left the church I had attended for the past 12 years. To say this was a difficult and emotional decision would be an understatement. I was left feeling like a fish out of water. We visited countless churches and found a few that we liked, but just were not compatible for our family whether due to location, service times, etc. I'm happy to say we've finally found a church that has welcomed us in with open arms!

During our hunt, I began to realize how tricky it is for a single mother to attend church. I also began to notice the lack of single mothers within the church.

Our society is full of single parents. There are 12 MILLION single parent families in the United States. 1 out of 3 children live in a home without their father. Guys, that's astronomical. What concerns me is that this statistic is not true within the church... 1 out of 3 parents within the church are NOT single parents. The reality is that 1 out of 50 single parents attend church. Yikes!

I've concluded that the average church is afraid to address single parenting. After all, the single mother may have gained her "single mom" status because of sin in her life. If the church started to reach out to single parents it may look like they are supporting unwed pregnancies or unbiblical divorces.

At the end of the day, avoidance doesn't change reality. The reality is that the culture we as a church are trying to reach is filled with single parents.

Some churches realize this and hesitantly address single parenting with controlled instructional classes with the goal being to help the single parent get out of their sin. I've heard a pastor say that their church loves single parents and desires to "help them out of the ditch". This gives the assumption that single parents are in a state of sin. Ministering to them looks like 10 step programs with the goal of getting them out of their sin.

Let's go back to the first single mom mentioned in the Bible, Hagar. God promised to give Abraham and Sarah many children. Sarah began to get impatient with her seemingly barren womb and gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, to fulfill God's promise. After Hagar gave birth to a son Sarah was able to get pregnant and gave birth to a son as well. She became resentful of Hagar and her son Ishmael and ordered Abraham to send them away. Hagar and her son were left in the desert to die.

But then God spoke to her from heaven, giving her a 10 step program on how to become more Christlike.

No. That would would have been absurd. God spoke to her with encouragement, reassuring her that He would bless her son's life. Then God took care of her physical needs providing her with a well of water.

What an amazing example of what our ministry to single parents should look like. The single mom needs encouragement, not judgement. Maybe her status was the result of a sinful decision, but how wonderful is it that God sees her through Christ's lenses of grace and redemption. May the church view her through the the lenses of Christ as well. May we be filled with encouragement and support,  the same encouragement and support that God poured onto Hagar.

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