A Children’s Ministry Magazine interview on single parent ministry from a dad’s point of view.
One out of every four kids in your church is part of a single-parent family. Whether it’s by death or divorce, it’s a sad but growing statistic. With that in mind, how well does your ministry meet the needs of these children, as well as their parents?
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David Purvis, a single father of four, created the Facebook page “Single Parent and Serving Him,” a place that serves up advice and inspiration. So far, the group has over 4,600 “likes,” and has served as a virtual water cooler for single parents to share stories and fellowship. I talked to David about his site and to get his take on how churches handle single parent families. Here is what he had to say.
David Jennings (DJ) – Tell us a little about yourself and why you wanted to create the “Single Parent and Serving Him” Facebook page.
David Purvis (DP) – Seeing as how I was raised in an orphanage, I was lacking a lot of what most kids have: an example of how their parents did what they did. So when I was divorced (my youngest was five months old), I relied on my heavenly father to guide me as to how to know what to do and when with my three boys and one daughter. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and single parenting doesn’t, either, so if I can help someone else to help someone on the learning curve, that’s what I want to do.
DJ – How can children’s ministers do a better job when it comes to working with children and their single parents? What should they do differently, and is there anything they shouldn’t do?
DP – Single parent children need everything that every other kid needs: love, attention, structure, and affirmation. More times than not, children of a single parent have a bit more responsibility than children from a two-parent family. They also tend to have trust issues, (whether) from being hurt by a parent or from the situation. The kids, as well as the parents, need to be told and shown that God doesn’t hate divorced people or children, he hates divorce.
(What ministers can do is) tend to the kids’ needs and communicate with the parent if there are issues or areas of concern that they can have a one-on-one about. Affirm, affirm, and affirm some more that they are not a less of a person just because they don’t have two parents at home.
DJ – How important is it for the church to step up in the area of single-parent ministry?
DP – I think this is a very good question. I am very happy and active in my church and we don’t have anything for single parents…I think it’s a VERY huge void that needs to be filled. I honestly think that most churches deal primarily with couples’ counseling and helping with marital issues, but drop the ball if all that fails. [I think it’s] due to the simple fact that divorce is seen as a taboo situation, and most people are afraid that they might “catch it” if they get too close. The church is a hospital for the wounded children of God – married, single, divorced, widowed – it doesn’t matter. Four very important words: hurt people, hurt people. And on the flip side: healed people, heal people. Our love for Christ is only as real as our love for our neighbor.
The make-up of today’s modern family is changing constantly, and we have more tips on how to help kids handle divorce, how to set up a single-parent ministry, and how to meet the needs of alternate-weekend kids.