The Church and the Single Parent

Glen Martin

Any local church can offer many blessings to single parents to help them cope with needs that often seem beyond their ability to handle. Creative ideas such as free babysitting for both male and female single parents, “how-to” classes, low-cost or free counseling, small groups designed with them in mind—such as divorce recovery and parenting classes—free repair and maintenance for vehicles are just a few such services.

Probably the greatest need expressed by the single parent, and an overwhelming obstacle that the single parent has to overcome, lies in the issue of wholeness. Without a soul mate, life appears shattered, fragmented, and lacks hope.

Part of the problem lies in a common myth that marriage makes you a “whole” person and is a sign of maturity.

Maturity has nothing to do with age, success, education or appearance. Finding wholeness and maturity comes to both the single person and the married person.

Recognizing that maturity is found in discovering God’s will for one’s life and putting it into practice will enable the church to fulfill one of the greatest calls to the single ministry, the call to help and heal.

The problems are complex. No one answer or any one person can fulfill all the obligations and needs of the single parent. But there is a possible solution to the brokenness felt by the single parent in the community of which we are a part, if that community is viable, committed, and willing to nurture the hurting.

The church is a fellowship of persons who have made a primary commitment to live by the model and example of the Lord Jesus Christ to love God with one’s whole self–your heart, your soul, and your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5)–and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

The implications of this directive can be stated in three clear principles:

  1. There is a clear relationship between the love of God, the love of others, and the love of self. The single community’s education about God’s love toward them is vital to the wholeness and fulfillment they so deeply desire.
  2. You cannot deny the reality of personal problems without such denial contributing to the furthering of these problems. It is vitally important for the church to understand that people in community are interactive beings and through faith must be challenged to break down defenses in order to be able to mutually help and heal one another’s hurts and concerns.
  3. The resolution of such stress and personal problems are never found in blaming. Therefore you need the community’s willing commitment to explore all aspects of the problems, then to empower the single parent to be able to make appropriate decisions and discover correct methods that can help them overcome their personal turmoil.

The process of change and growth begins when we understand and see ourselves as God sees us. 

Each one of us–single or not–is a precious person to God. Do you know why? The answer is simple…because He made you. He wants you to be with Him for eternity. And He will use everything, even the negative things, to form and shape you.

Give single parents at your church an opportunity to grow, to transfer their dependence to the One who will never let them down and to see their lives from God’s viewpoint.

Provide an environment for single parents to learn how to accept themselves with all their past struggles and understand that God has been molding them to be like His Son.

Demonstrate that the greatest way to be acquainted with God’s desire for our life is to become one with the Word of God.

Help them grow and become whole through their relationship with God and the loving care of their church family.


Related Article: Success as a Single Parent



9780941005944Condensed and adapted from the book Single, but Not Alone.

Whatever your age, whether you’re never-married, divorced, widowed or a single parent…Single, but Not Alone gives you an in-depth look at the unique needs of each person.

  • Gives tips and advice on facing challenges and solving problems
  • Tells how singles fit into the ministry of the church and what the church can offer them
  • Explains why it is OK to be single
  • Reveals advantages to being single
  • Looks at how to deal with stress and how to experience emotional healing
  • Addresses God’s expectations for singles
  • and much more

144-page paperback.


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2 Comments. Leave new

  • As a twenty year single mom and a lot of those years a sole parent due to an absent father hiding to avoid a support- visitation order, the most important thing other than your point number 1 was also integrating and surrounding both me and my children with good examples of Godly families- in-tact with a spiritually leading man, loving wife, and kids. It did me no good when the church split our Sunday schools into like-groups. I had a choice of forties or singles. My children were sent to age appropriate groups. It is shortsighted for the Church to do that. Where does mentoring come from? The pulpit- sure. But if you put all blacks. Or ex cons, or alcoholics or recovering alcoholics or single parents in a sectioned group… I doubt the standards are improved like they could be if the church promoted them to gravitate to the elders or dedicated Christians. I am defined by Christ… Not what my life failures are – and divorce and single at 50 for me is a failure – not a title I want to be stuck with.
    In short – connect The singles, widows and divorced folks with a variety of faithful Christians- and the rest will . My two cents worth.

    • I think what Ms A says has validity… there is a time when modeling and integration within the larger church body is critical. There is also a time when it seems most appropriate for a person to be among others who know without explanation and education what their new demands and heartache are all about. To your point, this is why is it important from the pulpit down to be aware of the flock’s needs, and to address them as an organic process. There is a time to be separated, and a time to come together (paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3). Your point requires the larger church body to not judge (nor are we to judge ourselves as unworthy due to Christ’s sacrifice), but to lend a hand, an ear, to walk the journey alongside a person/family being healed by Christ. We are all sinners, level at the foot of the cross, with unique hurts, needs, and gifts to offer to the body as we are all being re-created in Christ. Love you sister, and let’s pray for every single parent, and single parent family’s needs and hurts to be fully healed 1) through our intimate relationship with Christ, and 2) through the church body, so that we all may live the life Christ has intended and created for each and every one of his own. May God richly bless you.

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