How to Help Single Women in Your Church
- 2002 10 Oct
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." (James 1:27, NIV)
Look around you in church some Sunday. Chances are that nearly every pew contains at least one single woman ― and she's probably struggling in one way or another: with new widowhood, a recent divorce or chronic loneliness. She might feel marginalized and unvalued. She might even question where she belongs in a church where children and families are the primary focus.
Have you considered how you might minister to single women in your congregation?
Recent widows and divorcées may be hit especially hard when singleness is suddenly thrust upon them. That's when their "couple" friends often withdraw, leaving them grieving twice ― first for the husband who's gone, and second for the friends who can't figure out how to fit them in anymore.
These women often feel disoriented and abandoned ― unprepared for life in the solo zone. They can't fathom going to the movies by themselves or, heaven forbid, eating alone in a restaurant.
Life is complicated all the more when divorce, angry children, financial stress and uncooperative exes are part of the picture.
Where Do You Come In?
It's not so difficult to reach out to single women in your church. Try approaching your pastor with this proposal: Create a support group/Bible study exclusively for women in transition or having a hard time being single.
Stock the pews with cards where women can list their urgent needs and deposit them in the collection plate on Sunday. Those needs might range from groceries to moving some furniture to simple companionship. The church might even consider posting the cards on a bulletin board under the heading "I Need a Hand." (Women who wish to remain anonymous could simply leave a contact phone number.)
Poll the congregation for people with special talents or resources, then match them up with women needing help. Have a handy husband? Recruit him to fix a leaky faucet or rewire a lamp ― better yet, teach a widow how to do it herself the next time.
Maybe someone would like to sponsor a single-women's retreat, or donate some theme-park tickets to kids of single moms.
Are you good with money? Maybe you can help someone on a limited income make out a budget.
Are you and the family going to the mall or the movies over the weekend? Ask a single friend along. If your church has a singles ministry, invite her to attend an upcoming meeting or Sunday School class (many churches break them down by age group). Be willing to attend at least one time with her. If singles classes aren't her cup of tea, help her locate a good Bible study or a regular adult Sunday school class.
If you yourself are single and loving it, share your wisdom on how you arrived there. Suggest books and other resources that have been an encouragement to you.
Singleness Is Not a Disease
Let's encourage those struggling with singleness, widowhood or divorce that being partner-less is not the end of life. There is an "upside" to solo living (more free time to volunteer, engage in Bible study, expand social circles, go to school, etc.). Ask any mother of small children and she will tell you she'd trade anything for a quiet afternoon alone.
The main thing is for single women to realize that "single" is not a dirty word. They need not see themselves as social pariahs. There are plenty of others who are in the same boat and could use some encouragement from someone who's been there.
When someone isolates themselves from the world, clinging to the past or refusing to adjust to a new reality, other people can only do so much to help. Urge single women in your church to stay connected. Marital status is irrelevant when it comes to being a friend or serving others. Remind single women to stay in God's Word, depending on Him for strength and companionship during the lonely times.
With His help (and a little help from friends), single women can not only survive, but thrive in their singleness. As the Apostle Paul wrote on the subject:
But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am . . . (1 Corinthians 7:8, NIV)
Roberta Rand is online editor for Focus Over Fifty.
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