She walks in the church and cautiously looks around with her four-year-old daughter in tow. She hesitantly makes her way to the back of the church and sits quietly, thumbing through her Bible, avoiding eye contact at all costs. She has contemplated this day for months. She wonders if she should even be here. Does she really belong? A warm, friendly woman sits beside her and begins to make conversation with the four-year-old. The young mom is certain the woman notices her empty ring finger, and she hangs her head in shame.

The single mom is one of the fastest-growing sects of our population, so why have we, the church, ignored them for so long? There are more than 15 million single parents across the United States. And the statistics that surround these single parent homes are staggering : higher poverty rates, higher abuse rates, lower education rates, crime, teen pregnancy, suicide, higher abortion rates, and more!

For far too long the church has ran from the single mom, not really sure exactly what to do with her. Don't believe me? Studies suggest as many as 67% of single moms currently do not attend church – many citing fear of being judged as one of the key reasons (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). Of course, we offer them food when they are hungry. We may occasionally perform a home repair or provide toys at Christmas. But do we stop there? Dare we open a full-scale ministry?

It seems that many churches fear what others may perceive about a single moms ministry. We know that God meant for marriage to be forever. We also know that our God commands sexual purity. Does ministering to single moms mean that we, as the church, condone unwed pregnancy or divorce? Of course not.

As a former, unwed, teen mom, I can tell you that sixteen years ago when I began the journey, there was nothing for single moms at the local church. I was ashamed and fell away from church attendance. For almost seven years, I hung my head in shame. I did not feel like I belonged anywhere. Consequently, I struggled. I wandered around desperately searching for the love of my King.

Maybe you are reading and God is beginning to stir you in a way that you never expected. Maybe you are the child of a single mom. Maybe you know one. Maybe it is just the Christian love and compassion that is moving you to a place of action. Now, you are wondering, what can I do? How do I get started? Well, we are so glad you asked!

Meet The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. The Life of a Single Mom is a global faith-based nonprofit that is committed to seeing every single mother connected to the house of God. Our purpose is to educate the church on how to best meet the needs of single parents both within their church walls and outside of them. Our heart is to teach the church how to go beyond a one-time event and sustain a long-term ministry that sees every single mother learn to walk in the freedom that is Christ alone. To date, we have helped more than 400 churches in 19 countries begin the process of launching a new single moms program within their church or grow their existing ministry. We provide resources and encouragement on both long-term ministry and one-time events. The Life of a Single Mom Ministries has been endorsed by some of the nation's largest churches and ministries. For more information, visit us at http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, who has a passion to see every mother live the life God intended. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Life o f a Single Mom. She has appeared on more than 100 radio and television programs. She shares with raw detail her own journey of homelessness, severe abuse, and single parenting - revealing God's ultimate story of redemption for all. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.