Single-Parent Ministry From a Dad’s Point of View

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An interview on single parenting 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 is 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?

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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.

(You can find out more about David Purvis by visiting twitter.com/thatsmyjesus.)

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.

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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.

2 Comments

  1. Children's Ministry Magazine

    Your post really made me think! Especially when I read: "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."
    I will remember this. Thank you!

  2. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Kikelomo Adegbite on

    I have been a single parent to three boys since my husband passed away four years ago.
    My church friends have been a tremendous support group for myself and the boys over the years.
    I find that as a single parent, we also have a very important role to play. We need to be willing to play our part in keeping up relationships. As awkward as it may seem initially go out with your "couple" friends when they invite you, attend their functions and don't isolate yourself. After a while you would become comfortable once again in their company.
    Also if you need any help let people know, a lot of people are willing to help if they know how. I sometimes invite a girlfriend to go with me to the cinema or to a party if I don't want to go alone and I find that a lot of them are happy to do this with me. Believe it or not, even married people can be lonely sometimes.
    I try to keep a good attitude especially when I am around people and not bemoan my fate all the time, so people are comfortable and look forward to being around me because nobody likes to be invited to a "pity party" all the time.
    I spend a lot of time with my kids and I try to put structures in place to give them the security and discipline required and whenever I need help with any issues concerning them, I do not hesitate to ask from family or friends. Also I have kept up a very good relationship with their Dad's family and they have been extremely supportive in every way.

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