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A House Divided

Lori Haynes Niles

Finances-Finally, money is nearly always an issue in single-parent homes. The standard of living for a single mother declines by an average of 45 percent after a divorce. In addition to offering tangible benevolent support such as food, clothing, and cash gifts, consider supplementing the cost of activities for children. If possible, make arrangements for partial scholarships to activities to help minimize the cost for single-parent families. Your church can also offer financial planning and counseling services to strengthen a family's long-term financial well-being.

Do all these needs add up to a drain on church resources? Gary Sprague answers with a resounding no!

"The healing of brokenness leads to great contribution in the body," Gary says. "One church I know did a study on the percentage of single- parent contributions in relation to their total income and discovered that [single parents'] giving was significantly higher than the giving among the rest of the congregation."

In fact, one of the ways to validate a single-parent family is to help its members participate in the church with a full range of gifts and talents.

The Church's Needs

In addition to bringing talents and gifts into your church, Gary points out that single-parent families offer your church the opportunity to meet at least two important Scriptural mandates:

"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow"-Isaiah 1:17.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world"-James 1:27.

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