Why Children's Ministries Must Be Better at Ministering to Single Parents

In the United States, there are nearly 13.6 million single parents raising over 21 million children.  Single fathers constitute 16% of single-parent families.

What does that mean for how we impact our communities?  A recent study by Baylor University says that young adults are much more likely to return to church when they become parents.  And this includes those who are single parents.  The study also suggests that churches have much to offer single parents. 

Churches can offer single parents rest.  It can be tiring raising kids...especially if you're a single parent.  What a blessing to be able to come and enjoy time in worship while caring volunteers are loving on your kids.  This is one reason I don't believe parents should be required to serve in children's ministry if they don't feel called to.  For some single parents, the last place they need to be on a Sunday morning is in the nursery with their child.  

Churches can offer single parents support.  There are many opportunities for churches to support single parents.  Here are a few examples...

  • Have a Christmas party for single parents and their kids.  Have a meal for them and then give the parents a gift card they can use to buy Christmas presents for their kids.  Give them two hours to go out shopping after the meal while you have a program for their kids. 
  • Offer free car oil changes for single parents
  • Financial assistance.  Some single parents face financial struggles, especially when the other parent doesn't help provide for the child.  Providing assistance can include food, helping with bills, etc. 
  • Mentors.  If the single parent is a dad raising a daughter or a mom raising a son, help provide a same-gender mentor for the child. 
  • Household tasks or repairs.  Offer to help with yard work or things such as a broken appliance.
Churches can offer single parents encouragement.  Small groups are a place where parents can share their struggles and get help and encouragement.  Get to know the single parents in your church and offer words and notes of encouragement along the way.

Churches that focus their ministries only on married couples with children will miss the opportunity to minister to a great segment of the population.  We must be better at ministering to single parents and their children if we are truly going to reach families.