Not long ago I was a single mom raising my oldest daughter. I know all too well that inside a single parent home lives at least one broken heart.
I needed direction the most during this time in our life. But I couldn’t find any Christian books, classes, or mentors to help. It was hard. Still, I always felt God proving His nearness to the brokenhearted.
Now I am in a blended family, from the outside happily married with several kids. But I still struggle with the broken heart of our home being made up from the loss of former lives and families. I’m in a process of healing.
So I look where a lot of people go for help to heal: the church. Hurting people have gone to the church for help throughout history. The only problem is that healing begins with acceptance and love. And when I don’t see my family reflected in the church, it’s challenging to feel accepted.
Not our family
I know I’m not the only one who has held out short-lived hope when my pastor announces the family series he’ll be preaching on next month. I used to be optimistic that maybe this time he’d talk to me. But then, I’d remember he’s not referring to a single parent or blended family—my type of family.
When I browse the tables of the small group options in my church lobby I’m disheartened time and again. None of the groups resemble the makeup of my family.
I’ve learned that inside the church might be the toughest place to be a single parent or blended family. Family ministries often judge and regularly overlook our category of family.
But that needs to change. Coming from personal experience, our families need help, love, support, and encouragement too. We want to pass on a legacy of faith to our children just as much as any other family.
Reaching every kind of family
A blended family represents the opportunity for a new life. It’s a new marriage. I’ve heard it said inside church that these two families that have married to make one new family are not the families God intended.
Trust me. We don’t need to be told. Single parents and blended families are well aware of the heartache. We know that our families have fallen short at some point (except in those painful situations that were caused by a death).
Many non-traditional families already struggle with the feeling of being accepted into a church. There’s no room to add stress on top of that with an absence of resources and a welcome spot for us to fit.
This is all the more reason for the church and parachurch family ministries to be intentional about reaching out to these families. Our families are healing. What a beautiful thing for the body of Christ to help with and join in.
Make the first move
I want to encourage you as a single parent or blended family having a hard time finding a place. You may be feeling heartache, disappointment, confusion, and even just a hunger for more.
Next time you browse the small-group tables but don’t see an exact fit for your family, find the next closest fit. No single mom Bible study? Join the moms Bible study anyway. No blended marriage date night out? Sign up for the marriage night out.
Once you get to know the other participants in your group, you will likely find a handful of families that mirror yours. You’ll probably encounter other single parents or blended families who want to get connected to the church and hope to meet someone relatable too.
Next time someone is looking for a small group that resembles their family, it may be available because you and your new friends have decided to be leaders of the next blended family or single parent small group. These steps of initiative help the church as a whole begin to understand that family is defined different ways to different people. It is our job as a church to minister to them all.
If you’re having a hard time making a place in your church right now for a single parent or blended family, try this.
Be an inclusive church
1. Recognize that every family is important in God’s eyes. Some nontraditional families are already struggling with the feeling of being accepted into church. Acknowledge their value as individuals and as a a significant contribution to your church body.
2. Reach out to the non traditional families in your church. Ask how you can be praying for their family specifically. This shows that the church notices them and cares for them.
3. Ask for help from the blended and single parent families that you have built relationships with. Anyone God is touching and transforming makes for a great leader. Be open to your church having small groups that meet their individual needs. Invite them to lead it.
My “His, Mine and Ours family” is blessed. My husband and I committed to making church work. So we have a church home that has been intentional about ministering every kind of family. And we’re able to make a spot for other families like ours who needs a place in the church.
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