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7 Ways to Reach Out to Families of Divorce

Blog 2.8fixedI don't think anyone would disagree with the fact that we should strive to help families overcome obstacles. But, we should all be prepared in the event that a separation does occur in one or more of our ministry's families. Divorce seems to touch all of us in some way. I've seen church families who had children in my ministry go through a divorce. And being a child of divorced parents myself, I know personally some of the hardships these families face. But what do you say? What steps do you take? Here are some tips and advice to help you deal with divorce in your ministry.

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1. Ditch the Perfect Attendance Prizes - It sounds like a good thing to reward kids who come every week. But what's the message we're sending to kids who only get to attend our church every other weekend? Instead, check out these prize-free ways to encourage kids in your ministry.

2. Support Young Kids - Helping small children understand divorce can be tricky. Sesame Street recently added tools on their webpage to help parents explain to their kids what is happening, as well as tips to help kids feel loved and supported.

3. Bible-based Lessons - Susan Grover has created some simple but insightful Sunday school lessons for kids to help them understand that God is with them during their parents' divorce. Lessons are available for preschool, 1st to 3rd grade, and 4th to 6th grade.

4. Remember the Single Parent - With family ministry, it's important to remember to reach out to the parents as well as the kids. We have provided some ideas to get you started reaching out to single parents. One idea I never would have thought of would be organizing an old-fashioned co-op where single parents (and other church members) can exchange services without money. People with expertise in sewing, bookkeeping, and mechanical work, to name just a few, can participate.

5. Watch Your Words - In the article A House Divided, Lori Haynes Niles points out how some wrongly believe that supporting single-parent families is approving of divorce. "None of these attitudes could be further from the truth," says Niles. "The richness that comes to our churches through the healing experienced in divorced families is a precious gift of God and speaks volumes about the love of the reconciling God we serve." She adds that churches should be aware of the way they portray families. Are the names of your church events inclusive and welcoming to families of all kinds, or do they bar some families from participating (for example, "Doughnuts with Dad")?

6. Be a Team Player - Brian Dykes shared with us some helpful tips to show children's ministers how to reach out to children of divorce. The two I feel are most important are opening up a dialogue with each parent and speaking kindly about both parents. Make sure both parents know you are there to help. Keep them both informed about upcoming events and about their child's successes.

7. What To Say? - One of the first things that come to mind when we learn a child in our ministry is dealing with divorce is, what exactly should we say to the child? Linda Ranson Jacobs wrote an amazing article that you must check out. In it, she shares "bridge builders" to help you connect with kids. She explains that we don't need to ask kids painful questions. "Refrain from asking probing questions about the divorce," says Linda, "Instead, say, 'I'm sorry this is happening to you. How can I help?' and 'I'm always here for you. I'm thinking about you and praying for you.'"

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Although I pray your ministry never has to deal with divorce, we should all be prepared to show God's grace and help families share their burden. I recommend having a copy of Group's Emergency Response Handbooklet: Divorceon hand to be ready to deal with these situations. It will help you find powerful ways to share God's love and comfort with a hurting friend.

Posted at 10:57

2 Comments:

Let the affected children know that the Lord our God is loving and caring even if one parent becomes irresponsible. He will still provide for them even if it is through difficulties.
February 9, 2013 12:23
David, thanks for your kind words about the article I wrote a couple of years ago. What an honor to be mentioned. Blessings, Linda DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) dc4k.org
February 9, 2013 09:24

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