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Church and single moms: through the stigma and the church hurt, single moms belong at church and are loved by God. Although many single moms feel left out at church, there is a way back.
Single moms often feel forgotten, out of place, and sometimes straight-up not welcomed at church
Whether this is because…
- There’s a sermon series “about sex for all the married people,” and the pastor says it’s good for the single people to listen to this as well…which, side note, I’m still waiting for the sermon series about single parents that the married couples “should listen to as well.”
- You were encouraged to try out the singles group and found it was full of college-aged kids.
- You tried to find your place in a small group but found yourself surrounded by stay-at-home moms who don’t understand your struggles and vice versa.
These negative experiences can add up and leave you feeling like you don’t belong at church or, worse…you are an outsider in the family of God.
When my parents divorced when I was 13 years old, I witnessed firsthand how our church family completely let our family down. Up until that point, my whole life was at the church.
But once my parent’s marriage fell apart, the church also fell apart for us. Being a teenager, this was a crucial time in my life to lose the church.
Thankfully, God didn’t let me go so easily. But my family never went back to church, and I didn’t go back to church until I had a family of my own.
As often happens, life repeats itself, and I found myself facing a divorce. And when I looked around, all I could see were nuclear families.
Part of it is ignorance.
I, too, was guilty of it. I never thought about single-parent families until I was one. Suddenly I realized there was little to no support for single moms.
The weird responses I’d receive from people always within the church pushed me further away.
I remember one man asking me about my husband when I was with my kids. I replied that I wasn’t married, and he responded with, “well, you can’t have everything.”
I continued to bring my kids to church but would often drop them off for summer camps and youth groups then I’d go home.
how the enemy isolates us
After a few years of this, I began feeling completely isolated. I’d pretty much written off the church. Yes, some of the people there were outdated. They didn’t have many programs or support for single parents, but who was hurting as a result? Me.
The enemy was using my shame and past to isolate me from God, his church, and his people.
When Jesus was tested in the wilderness, two of the three attacks on Jesus was against his identity. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of the God…” (Matthew 4: 1-11)
If the enemy would tempt Jesus this way, do we think we are exempt from it? “If you are a daughter of God, wouldn’t you feel welcome in church?”
Although it’s important not to give the enemy too much credit, I think it’s also worth asking yourself if you’re nursing wounds and making excuses to stay away from the church.
As for me, I felt God telling me that for the next year, I was to sign up for every single women’s opportunity put on by the church in the new year: retreat, bible study, volunteer opportunity.
He’d help me figure out the cost and child care arrangements when the time came, but for now, my answer needed to be yes.
So I signed up for the two events in January, and by February, I was so in love with my church again.
My way back to the church may not be your way back.
But I do think there’s a way back for you. Because swearing off the church is not God’s design, he wants you in community. He wants you with other believers.
things single moms should consider about their church
A couple of questions to ask yourself if you’ve stepped away from the church or been hurt by the church because of your single mom status.
1. Do I need to leave my church and find a new one?
Depending on your history with this church, this can be a hard decision and finding a new church can be very difficult and emotionally taxing. One plus of the virus is that almost every church is online now, so you can check them out thoroughly to see if you agree with their theology.
2. Have I asked for what I need, and have I asked the right person?
If you need childcare to attend the women’s bible study, have you asked for it from the person who can make that happen? Are you being reasonable?
For example, if you ask for counseling and you’re referred elsewhere, it could be because the church doesn’t have the capacity. Make sure you aren’t taking things personally.
3. It’s okay to have a home church but attend another church for specific programs.
You can look for programs DivorceCare, Celebrate Recovery, Single & Parenting, or GriefShare.
All of these programs are typically offered at churches, and although you may find people who aren’t single parents, you’re sure to find single moms and other like-minded people there.
4. Do I need to give My church more grace?
Many churches don’t have a specific single mom ministry because this group is very fluid. Single moms change in and out of this status, unlike a more generic “mom” group.
Ground yourself in God’s word and your identity.
Immerse yourself with time with God so that if something rubs you the wrong way at church, and it will, then it won’t take you out. You aren’t a single mom or even a mom first.
You’re a child of God first and foremost. Go to church and meet with the God of the Most High.