Practical Tools: How to Help Hurting Families


Expert insights for helping families facing displacement, a serious diagnosis, the death of a child, and divorce.

All the families you minister to are precious—and many are dealing with struggles and challenges that are oftentimes unseen. As their children’s minister, one of the most important things you can do is to be aware of what families are going through and to continually offer your support. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to be ready to minister to hurting families in practical ways. And your presence, love, and assistance during tough times will leave a lasting impact.

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We asked several experts to share their most practical and thoughtful ministry ideas for families who are dealing with displacement, a serious diagnosis, the death of a child, and divorce.


Often when a family is in crisis—regardless of the cause—they find themselves displaced from their home, unprepared and without basic personal items.

While this impacts all family members, it can be especially hard on the children. One way to make the crisis less traumatic is to have care kits on hand and ready to distribute. These simple, well planned kits provide a measure of normalcy and the sense that your ministry cares for the family.

Child Care Kit
A care kit for children can include a toothbrush, comb, children’s toothpaste, washcloth, and towel. It’s also comforting to include something small, cute, and furry for kids. A small plush toy can be just the thing to bring some joy to a displaced child. Coloring books and crayons are other helpful items to include. You can also tuck in simple, encouraging notes for children.

Adult Care Kit
Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, comb, washcloth, and towel. Disposable razors still in the original packaging and a small container of shaving cream are handy, too. Consider adding a simple item such as a pack of playing cards or a magazine. Include a note of encouragement; recipients appreciate receiving a personal note from the person who created the package.

Small, inexpensive kits like these can have a positive, comforting impact and reduce the trauma of displaced families in crisis.

—Bruce Norton is the chairman for the American Family Crisis Ministry, Inc .

Practical Tools: How to Help Hurting Families
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