A children’s minister asked me this question recently. It inspired me to share these thoughts with you.
Christmas is hard on many single parent families. While some single parent families are struggling with adjusting to this new life style, others have been single parenting for years. These are the single parents who are ready to serve and give back.
From my observations over the past years I’ve come to the conclusion that most single parents go through three distinct phases or stages of parenting.
- Stage 1: Surviving and becoming a parent without a partner
- Stage 2: Transitioning from crisis to reality
- Stage 3: The Emerging healthy single parent
It is in stage three when the single parent has healed and has moved from hurting into a healthy life that they are ready to serve. These are the single parents who are no longer needy and emotionally vulnerable. They want to give back to the Lord. Many times they want to give back to the church family that has covered them in prayer and has walked alongside them in their journey.
Suggestions for serving
1. Mentor and help a struggling single parent family survive the holidays (The healthy single parent will understand and remember what it’s like to survive the holidays. They will have empathy and understanding.) Encourage a singe parent to take charge of the following.
· Help the children purchase or make gifts for both parents
· Send the single parent a Christmas card (You’d be amazed at the lack of Christmas cards/wishes single parents get. Many times family and friends turn their back on the hurting single parent.)
· Invite the single parent family to attend a Christmas celebration at your church or in your community
· Invite the single parent family over on Christmas Day if possible
· Or invite the single parent who might be without their children on Christmas to spend the day with them or come over for dessert
2. Hand out programs for a Christmas concert
3. Fold programs for the Christmas concert
4. Decorate for Christmas (Many churches have a tree that has to be decorated as well as other Christmas decorations placed around the church building)
5. Set up for a special event (Set up chairs, tables for refreshments, etc.)
6. Serve on the group that tears down and cleans up after an event such as a church wide Christmas celebration or Christmas Eve service
7. Bake cookies/desserts for special event
8. Make coffee / punch
9. Serve refreshments
10. Be greeters at the door
11. Look for single parents with special skills. You may identify someone who is a great marketer, excellent financial planner, a chef, or skilled in a trade (most single parents work to support their families). Look for ministry opportunities that would benefit from such expertise.
Serving during the year
Many of the ways listed above can be used throughout the year. Other ways single parents can serve
- Help with church wide mail outs (Stuffing envelopes, folding items, stamping)
- Making phone calls
- Supply items for the food pantry
- Help sort clothes if your church has a clothes closet
- Serve on the benevolence focus group (Single parents that have grieved the loss of a loved one will be cognizant of how to approach a grieving widow or widower)
Even the single parent who is at the beginning of their single parent journey and the transitioning parent could benefit from giving to others at Christmas. Some might not want to while others are just waiting to be asked.
What ways does your church encourage single parents and kids to serve?