The Life of a Single Mom
By Jennifer Maggio
She walks in the church and cautiously looks around with her four-year-old daughter in tow. She hesitantly makes her way to the back of the church and sits quietly, thumbing through her Bible, avoiding eye contact at all costs. She has contemplated this day for months. She wonders if she should even be here. Does she really belong? A warm, friendly woman sits beside her and begins to make conversation with the four-year-old. The young mom is certain the woman notices her empty ring finger, and she hangs her head in shame.
The single mom is one of the fastest-growing sects of our population, so why have we, the church, ignored them for so long? According to the U.S. Census Bureau's article Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support released in November 2007, there are more than 15 million single parents across the United States. And the statistics that surround these single parent homes are staggering:
-1 in 3 single parents lives in poverty.
-Abuse is twice as likely in a single parent home.
-78% of our current prison population was raised by a single mother.
-Children of single parents are more likely to become single parents.
-Children of single parents are 5 times more likely to commit suicide and 10 times more likely to drop out of high school.
-50% of single parent homes have some form of sexual abuse (March '07, University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine)
Is it any wonder that twenty-two percent of all pregnancies today end in abortion (Guttmacher Institute, July 2008)?! Potential single mothers are fearful that they simply cannot parent alone. They are scared – overwhelmed with the idea. They are scared that they, too, will become just another statistic. Where are the resources for single moms? Where can they go? Sure, there are government programs to put food in the mouths of her hungry children or clothes on their back, but what about her emotional state? Where does she go for friendship and networking? How does she achieve financial success and learn long-term parenting skills? Does she know the resources that are available to her, other than government assistance?
For far too long the church has run from the single mom. Don't believe me? Some studies suggest as many as 67% of single moms currently do not attend church – many citing fear of being judged as one of the key reasons (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2010). Of course, we offer them food when they are hungry. We may occasionally perform a home repair or provide toys at Christmas. But do we stop there? Dare we open a Sunday school class exclusively for single moms? A Bible study? Or even a full-scale ministry?
It seems that many churches fear what others may perceive about a single moms ministry. We know that God meant for marriage to be forever (Malachi 2:16, Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:8). We also know that our God commands sexual purity ( 1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 6:13, Galatians 5:19). Does ministering to single moms mean that we, as the church, condone unwed pregnancy or divorce? Of course not – no more than drug rehabilitation programs support drug use.
If we don't reach out to them, who will? For many, the only counseling they receive is from the local government-ran health unit, where they simply receive a pat on the back and a safe-sex discussion. Are you okay with these precious moms receiving a condom and a pat on the back or should be be giving them Christ? How can they make it without Christ filling them and renewing them daily with His love and mercy? How do they not simply give up?
As Christians, we have been commissioned with several tasks by our Heavenly Father. Psalms 146:9 says “He cares for the widows and orphans.” Luke 14:13 calls us to “invite the poor.” 1 Timothy 5:3 advises us to “take care of the widow.” The widow, oftentimes, is the single mom. The orphans are left by a single mom. The poor are the single moms.
As a former, unwed, teen mom, I can tell you that fifteen years ago when I began the journey, there was nothing for single moms at the local church. I was ashamed and fell away from church attendance. For almost seven years, I hung my head in shame. I did not feel like I belong anywhere. Consequently, I struggled. I wandered around desperately searching for the love of my King.
Whether they are unwed, divorced,or widowed, many single moms need parenting advice, financial instruction, emotional support via networking, and spiritual growth opportunities. Let us find these women in our churches and let them know they belong. Let us find them in our communities. Let us minister to them at their point of need. Let uss begin the single moms groups. Praise God for the cutting-edge churches across the country who have already embraced the concept! Has yours?
Maybe you are reading and God is beginning to stir you in a way that you never expected. Maybe you are the child of a single mom. Maybe you know one. Maybe it is just the Christian love and compassion that is moving you to a place of action. Now, you are wondering, what can I do? How do I get started? Well, we are so glad you asked!
Meet The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. The Life of a Single Mom is an international faith-based nonprofit who is committed to seeing every single mother connected to the house of God. Our purpose is to educate the church on how to best meet the needs of single parents both within their church walls and outside of them. Our heart is to teach the church how to go beyond a one-time event and sustain a long-term ministry that sees every single mother learn to walk in the freedom that is Christ alone. To date, we have helped more than 400 churches in 19 countries begin the process of launching a new single moms program within their church or grow their existing ministry. We provide resources and encouragement on both long-term ministry and one-time events. The Life of a Single Mom Ministries has been endorsed by some of the nation's largest churches and ministries, including Focus on the Family, Crosswalk, Healing Place Church, New Commandment, and many more.