Single not alone? What does that mean? Of course I am alone, Im single!
My name is Cary Branscum, and I am the singles minister for the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. I will be a regular contributor to Heartlight with articles for a single point of view. Being single DOES mean being alone sometimes. At the same time, that doesnt mean your life is about loneliness. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, even married folks! To a certain degree, WE CHOOSE the level of our aloneness. In this spot for singles, we will regularly explore the Single...Not Alone concept. Why not join the thousands of folks who visit Heartlight each week, and click on Single, Not Alone.
Heres our topic for today: WHAT CAN THE CHURCH DO TO HELP SINGLE PARENTS?
I want to start with this focus so you can have some suggestions to share with those who say, Hey, I know youre going through a tough time, let me know if I can help. You can share this with them and say, Thanks, here are some things that have proven helpful in other places! Or, if no one asks, this is something you can share with a leader in your church and you can say: Im really having a hard time. I know there are others out there like me that I think the church can minister to. These are some things others have found helpful in ministering to folks hurt by divorce like me.
Heartlight is focused on helping folks keep their commitments. What happens when a spouse doesnt honor that marital commitment? What of the precious spouse and priceless kids left in the wake?
You may be tired of hearing about the movie TITANIC, but Im going to risk one more allusion to it. Imagine the feelings experienced by those folks who went down with that giant, majestic, supposedly safe ship! Lots of single parents know that feeling; they have seen their marital world crumble and sink. Unfortunately, those of us in our churches often sit in our lifeboats and wait too long to check on left in the water when the ship goes down. So lets ask an important question with some urgency.
What can we, the body of Christ, do to help?
These are folks who need love, help, and acceptance. They need a place to heal and grow. Here are some practical things we can do to help these hurting folks:
- Make a point to call and include them in key activities.
This will help ease the sense of isolation. Of course, make sure the activity is appropriate for single people. Dont put them on the spot.
- Take the kids out for a day or half a day.
Time without kids is like gold for single parents. They love their children, and many single parents literally live their lives for the wellbeing of their kids. At the same time, there are some things that can be accomplished quicker and easier without kids! This is also a great time for the children to feel special and valued.
- Have your church hang out a shingle!
Put up a sign that says we love single parents. Let your community know you value these folks and their kids.
- Foot the bill sometimes.
Money is tight for single parents. Occasionally paying a utility bill, or buying new shoes for the kids can make an amazing difference to a single parent.
- Give the single parent some church service time alone!
Its tough to worship while going for a drink of water, or to the bathroom every ten minutes. Carry a little totebag of Bible storybooks, crayons, and puzzles, and snag one of those kids from mom during church for an hour or so.
- Listen in an open, nonjudgmental way.
This is sometimes really tough! We are busy, and we often have lots of great advice to help fix a situation. Just listen to the single parent and they will tell you what is in their hearts. Advice is best given when we are asked for it.
- Have at least a class and one fellowship event per month for the single parents.
This is not too difficult, it just takes some consistent effort. You can do it! An honest open Bible believing teacher with a heart of compassion makes all the difference in the world. And you would be surprised how often a hamburger cookout will uplift the spirits of single parents.
With the help of Gods Spirit, perhaps you can think of lots more! See you next time.