Children of divorce: Group KidMin13 – What It Takes to Engage These Families (Deeper learning track)

Family / Ministries //


The following is a copy of the handout for the Group KidMin Conference on “What It Takes to Engage These Families”.

The PowerPoint slides for this workshop can be found at the bottom of this post.

Objectives for this session

  • Ministering to the child of divorce takes a lot of energy and passion fuels the energy needed.
  • Divorce can be messy for church leaders to deal with, but when one understands the legacies a child of divorce experiences, the messiness become worth the effort.
  • Truly understanding the child of divorce and their situation is necessary if one wants to minister to the child of divorce.
  • Learning about what goes on in the child’s brain will give you a deeper understanding of how to talk to the child and build relationships with them and their single parent.
  • Accepting the challenge is God’s call for saving the child of divorce for the Kingdom and for future generations.

I.  Ministering to the child of divorce takes a lot of energy and passion fuels the energy needed.

  • Your energy comes from the passion God places in you. Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
  • “Baggage” video
  • Fueling your passion – four criteria for ministering to hurting families
  1. Praying comes first – open your heart and your mind
  2. Understanding – it is important to try and understand the child’s situation
  3.  Reaching out – use God’s word or personal experiences to reach out to the child of divorce or their single parent
  4.  Caring – allowing God to use your experience to fuel a passion within you
  • Passion – the object of someone’s interest or enthusiasm
    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciplines, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into this harvest field.’” 
Matthew 9:35-36Truly understanding the child of divorce and their situation is necessary if one wants to minister to the child of divorce.

II.  The child of divorce, the community and the church
Divorce is messy and many church leaders don’t have a true understanding of all the issues surrounding a divorce.

A.  Family sculpturing

B.  Short-term legacies

  • Intense stress
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Constant fear about safety
  • Difficulty completing task
  • Academic problems
  • Behavior problems
  • Regression to previous and younger habits
  • Feeling of powerlessness
  • Total confusion

C.  Long-term legacy

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Lower psychological well-being
  • Suicide
  • Delinquency in teen years
  • Promiscuity and unwed teenage pregnancy
  • Substance reliance and abuse
  • Poverty
  • Becoming divorced as adults
  • Pulling away from the Lord in adult years

III.  Understanding the child
Learning about what goes on in the child’s brain will give you a deeper understanding of how to talk to the child and build relationships with them and their single parent.

  • Jesus accessed each person and every situation and dealt with each one differently.
    1.  For some it was a touch
    2.  For one he took her hand and spoke over her and told her to rise and be healed Mark 5:41-42)
    3.  For one with demons he sent the demons into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:9-14)
    4.  For one man he put his fingers in the man’s ears; he spit and touched the man’s tongue and the man could hear and speak (Mark 7:32-35)
  • What happens in the brain
    1.  Brain stem – is all about surviving the moment and the only thing the brain knows to do in a crisis is fight, flight or freeze. For the brain stem it is all about safety. For the child of divorce safety is a big issue
    2.  Limbic – is all about feelings and being loved and accepted. The entire perception of a situation is based on being loved and how the person feels. It is their perception.
    3.  Cortex or upper level of the brain – is the level where the brain can think logically, learn and process information. The cortex also wants to know what it can contribute to the situation.
    4.  Activate the mirror neurons – these neurons fire or literally mirror what you see someone else do. “For example, if you see someone smile, you mirror neurons respond. These cells essentially copy the pattern of activity you would experience if you were smiling, but without fully completing the muscle movement. These neurons show you ‘what it’s like’ to experience what others do.” Born for Love

IV.  Keeping the passion alive

  • Creating relationships – children of divorce must be able to have people who will develop relationships with them in order for them to survive and thrive.
  • Building community ­ – and feeling like you belong keeps the children coming back to church and it also keeps your passion alive within you.“You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child.” Too Small to Ignore Pg 5“If you hang onto someone’s passion, it becomes habit-forming.” Bill Parcells NFL coach

V.  Tips and tools to get you started and keep you going

  • Prayer:  Prayer is of utmost importance when reaching out to the children of divorce. Learning how to pray with these children and not setting them up to fail is something most church workers don’t understand.John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT).
  • Plan:  Without plans ministering to the child of divorce will fail. You don’t have to develop a support group but plan how to reach these children; developing a strategy for ministry and training workers in how to respond to the child of divorce will keep the kids coming to your church.Proverbs 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
  • Caring:  Caring through empathy. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings and their situation. It is not sympathy. There are several things that contribute to the loss of empathetic relationships.
    1.  Empathy is eroding in our world today
    2.  We have relational poverty among our children of divorce
    3.  Care of team
    4.  Caring for yourself.
    5.  Ministry to children of divorce is a ministry that can’t be done alone.
    6.  Leaders that come into regular contact with the child of divorce needs to be on your team.
    7.  Encourage your team.
    8.  Text and talk together.
    9.  Care for yourself by taking a break occasionally.

Luke 4:42 “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.”

Matthew 8:24 “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the wave swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.”

Press against Jesus, http://dc4k.leaderzoneconnect.org/articles/198) Mark 5:25-34

VI.  Empowerment

  • Use God’s word to empower the ministry to single parent families and their children.
  • Empower yourself through your personal prayer life.
    1.  Become familiar with how to pray for these families (safety, needs, etc.)
    2.  Empower the child of divorce.
    3.  Learn what not to pray when praying with the child. 


  • Accept the challenge of ministering to the ever-growing population of children of divorce.
  • Be encouraged with Romans 15:13 “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (TEV)

www.FreshBrewedLife.com Nicole Johnson, Writer, creator of “Baggage” video drama

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrvJIznZKtU   Baggage Video

Too Small to Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford (Waterbrook Press)

Born for Love Maia Szalavitz, Bruce D. Perry, M.D. PH.D. (HarperCollinsPublishers)

www.ConsciousDiscipline.com Conscious Discipline® Dr. Becky Bailey 1-800-842-2846

http://blog.dc4k.org Kids & Divorce, Linda Jacobs

http://www.divorceministry4kids.com  Divorce Ministry 4 Kids

Group with Video by ChurchInitiative





About the Author

Linda has been a children’s ministry director, developed DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org), operated a therapeutic child care, and has extensive experience at successfully accommodating challenging behaviors. She currently serves as the DC4K Ambassador and Professional blogger at http://blog.dc4k.org.