With a growing number of churches within the body of Christ embracing the need to minister to single parents, many questions have arisen (along with a little confusion) regarding the topic. While I wouldn't dare paint every church or situation with the same brush, I want to take some time today to answer the most frequently asked, straight-forward questions we receive as a ministry about single moms support groups, their existence within churches, and much, much more.
Doesn't single moms ministry support single parenthood? No. As the body of Christ, we should continue to teach sexual purity and forever-marriage, but ... the reality is that we all have fallen short of God's glory. And while some single mothers exist through no fault of their own, some have also made mistakes. Regardless of their arrival to the journey, they are here. And we cannot ignore the need to minister and encourage them.
Why are you only promoting single moms ministry versus single dads ministries or single parents ministries? As someone who has a heart for single parents, I recognize that both single moms and dads exist, either as co-parents or sole custodians. And I have great compassion for those dads that are single parents, too. However, statistics continue to support more than more than 97% of single parents in our country are women. Additionally, if a church sees a number of single dads who need support, we are supportive of opening a separate group for dads. The reality is that men fellowship differently, which is why mens' ministry looks different. What we want to avoid is having a co-ed environment that is no different than singles' ministry in churches today (which by the way, we love singles' ministries) in that many moms need to just be "women" without the added pressure that co-ed mingling sometimes brings. There is no right or wrong in this area. I am just sharing what I have seen works best.
Single moms' ministries just create division and further separate single moms, doesn't it? No more than Ladies Nights or Womens' Ministries separate women! We want single moms to be part of various groups at the church -- singles, women's ministry, volunteer opportunities, etc. But whether a mom has been parenting alone for a few months or for years, the journey is different than dual parenting, and the journey can be lonely. Single moms support groups allow for deep fellowship, the sharing of ideas, and encouragement.
One of the things I have heard you promote is that single moms' groups support church growth. That doesn't seem like a very good reason to launch one! Our sole mission as the body of Christ is to populate Heaven and plunder Hell! Our goal is to see souls transformed by the blood of Jesus. There are more than 9 million single mothers that are unchurched in the United States, and many, many are unsaved. Yes, it grows the church, because these women now have a place where they feel they belong. This may very well be the way that the unreached, unchurched single mom in your community comes to Christ. More opportunities equals a greater chance to share the plan of salvation. If a church leader needs to hear that it will grow the church in order for him to get on board, then so be it. It is a bold and grand idea that we, the church, actually be excited about growing the church.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who founded the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs and has a heart to see that no single mother walks alone. For more information on single mothers support groups, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
About five years ago, I made a conscious decision not to wear mascara to church. The music portion of our service was so beautiful that it repeatedly brought me to tears, and rather than have black tears streaming down my face, I decided to forego mascara applications altogether. Not long thereafter, I attended a women’s conference in my hometown. It was one of those events that took your breath away at every turn. God was evident in every detail – the speakers, the music, everything. By the end of the third day, my spiritual cup was overflowing. Although tears had slowly trickled down my face at various moments during the conference, by the end of the third day, an all-out cry fest took place. I was completely uninhibited. I was in awe of God’s goodness, all he had done in my past, how he cared about all of us in that room, and filled with excitement about his plans for my future. I just let loose, and it didn’t matter to me that I would be a red-faced, sweaty mess, thereafter. May I be honest? It was the first time I had cried in church unconcerned about how I appeared to others in a very long time.
So what’s the point of the story? Am I saying that wearing mascara to church is wrong? Of course not. I love makeup. I love high heels and beautiful blouses. I love a new haircut, a sparkly-pocketed pair of blue jeans, and great new boots. And I do not think there is anything wrong with any of those things. But when the shirt covering our hearts becomes more important than the purity therein, it is a major problem. When the heart that graces our inside is less important than the new necklace draped across its outside, we are in dangerous territory.
Today, I am invited to women’s conferences all over the country to speak and encourage other women. It is a great honor to do so and I spend many hours preparing for what I might share. Admittedly, I also put thought into what I will wear. During a recent out-of-town event, I was scheduled to speak on a Friday morning, but I arrived early on Thursday evening to attend the opening night of the conference. The women’s minister (and pastor’s wife) greeted me, and I was in awe of how beautiful she looked. Her hair was impeccable. Her clothes were neat and fashionable. She was a gem, for sure. And then, the most beautiful thing happened. Worship began and we spent the next two hours singing songs to our King. And do you know what that beautiful woman did? She took off those high heels and kneeled to the ground, then later, fell to her face in free worship and adoration of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Tears flowed down my face, once again. It was in the moment that I thought, “we all need to just get back to the basics.”
For years, I was always taught that we bring our very best before God. Many in my life translated that to mean that men wore full suits and women adorned beautiful dresses and pantyhose, as this was considered the very best. Then, I transitioned into a church that was much more casual with jeans and t-shirts worn on most Sundays. Which is right? What about the homeless man with no shoes? What does he wear?
My answer to you is that it is “all” right as long as motives are pure. If your desire is to put on a pant suit or full-length church dress because you believe that brings honor to your Savior, then, please do so. But be careful not to pass judgment on the young mom across the aisle who wears jeans and a tattered t-shirt. Spend more time preparing your heart for the message that the pastor will be bringing, rather than ironing your attire. Spend more time praying for the worship leader, rather than choosing just the right jewelry for your Sunday outfit. And above all else, bring with you a pure heart, ready to gather in the King’s house and welcome all in, regardless of how they are dressed.
(Article first appeared on iBelieve.com).
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
I rarely watch television talk shows, but was flipping through the channels the other day and happened upon a talk show doing a piece of the now-popular “Purity Ball.” If you are not familiar, Purity Balls are held in venues around the country, whereby a daughter in her pre-teens or early teens is escorted by her father to an evening event with music, dancing, a nice dinner, etc. The ball ends when the daughter takes a pledge to live her life in sexual purity and presents this pledge to her father, who also commits to help her in that journey.
As is the case with much mainstream media today, this talk-show host (and much of the audience) was tearing to shreds the guests who had signed the agreement and attended the events. I was infuriated. Comments such as “Purity isn’t a reality in 2013,” “Sex outside marriage is not wrong,” and “Abstinence doesn’t work" were followed with an eruption of applause from the audience.
It really got me to think about purity. As a mom of teenagers and a ministry leader who works with thousands of singles worldwide, this is certainly a hot-button issue for me.
The truth is, the previous comments are the common consensus of most of today’s anything-goes society. Although almost 80 percent of the country identifies themselves as Christians, sex outside marriage has become a common occurrence and is glossed over as an event of little consequence. And, if I’m being totally transparent, I would tell you that, at an earlier point in my own life, I felt the same as most of the studio audience that day.
At 13 years old, I was the only virgin I knew! Everyone around me was having sex. I held out as long as I could (or so I thought), and mostly due to peer pressure, I became sexually active. For me, it was a horrific, embarrassing, and shameful experience. I resolved I would never do it again, but peer pressure persisted, and my relationship with the Lord dwindled. Before I even knew what was happening. ... I was pregnant four times by 19 years old! I would love to tell you that that ended my bout with sexual impurity, but it lasted well into my twenties.
So the question becomes, does purity really matter?
- I would say that to the 51 percent of babies who are born to unwed mothers today who live in poverty, it matters.
- I would say that to the 13 percent of teens who will contract a sexual transmitted disease this year, purity matters.
- To the 22 percent of babies who were aborted last year (and to their moms), it matters.
- To the 15+ million single moms in the country, many of which are unwed single moms, purity matters.
- To the 500,000 teens who attempt suicide every year (many due to failed sexual relationships & the emotional distress that accompanies them), it matters!
The reality of sexual purity is simply this: Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we could ever know. His desire isn’t to deprive us of a life full of joy, fun, excitement, and happiness. Just as a parent’s desire isn’t to deprive their 4-year-old child of fun when disciplining them for running into the street after a ball, God knows what is best for us. When we wait and do things in his timing, his way, the long-term blessings far exceed any temporal joy.
Purity is attainable. It is sustainable. And it is where true freedom is found -- the freedom of knowing that your Heavenly Father has your life all figured out and you are happy to just take the ride.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see women living the life God intended. She is founder of the international non-profit, The Life of a SIngle Mom, and has been featured on hundreds of radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
There is a saying that has been coined and used often in my church. It was started (as best I know) by one of our original members. Years ago, when my husband and I were in our second or third year of marriage, things were getting pretty stale. We decided it would be beneficial to our marriage to take a "refresher" course on marriage at our local church. Wayne Austin taught that class. We went into the class kind of half-convinced that it would help us, but were willing to give it a try. Never has a class so profoundly affected my view on marriage as this "Life for Marriage" program.
One of the first things Bro. Wayne said was, "Your family is your ministry." He went on to say that if you see your husband (or wife) as the very image of Christ, it is far easier to serve her. When you see her as an opportunity to further serve and honor the Lord, it is much harder to argue about who is going to wash the dishes, bathe the kids, or vacuum the floor. It did not sink in, at first, but over the next several weeks, the message came through loud and clear.
My husband, children, and family have all been given to me by God. They are His children. He loves them just as much as he loves me; therefore, he expects me to treat them as He would treat him. The same is true for you.
I cannot say I have fully arrived in regards to this truth, but I am constantly pursuing it. I want my family to know they mean something to me, they mean everything to me, aside from the Creator who gave them to me. I want them to know that ministry, church work, serving opportunities, and every other thing is secondary to our time together.
Stay-at-home moms, you may feel you have little significance in the Kingdom right now, because you are at home with children. Know it is the greatest challenge and gift your Father could have given you. How you rear them is of great worth.
Single moms, maybe you feel that you are too busy balancing life to make much impact for Jesus. Know that your children are your ministry. They are your impact on this world. You could be rearing the next President of the United States, the next leader of a global nonprofit, or a national voice for the underprivileged. Or maybe, you are raising a future Godly husband that will love his children and his wife, value his blessings, and honor the Lord all the days of his life.
All are greatly significant.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parents' and women's issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker, as well as founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
About Jennifer Maggio
Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.
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