What if a divorced single parent family suddenly showed up at your church and unknown to you they were involved in a reality show?
What if you found out, would you handle things any differently than when you didn’t know? Stop and think about that for a few minutes.
What attitude would you betray when you didn’t know? Most of you are probably saying, “It doesn’t make any difference as I love all children. I would welcome them like other children.” Really? Seriously? Because I’ve been at various children’s minister’s conferences and if I could see your face and expression right now, they would tell the real story. Just as they do when I approach you at conferences about working with the child of divorce.
These are some of the comments I get.
• We don’t have any children in our community from divorced families.
• We aren’t allowed to say the word “divorce” in our church. I really do want to work with them but my hands are tied.
• Oh! Those kids! They are too out of control for me. No thank you!
• We tried but divorce kids don’t show up consistently and their parent never knows what’s going on.
Here’s how I’d like to address some of these comments.
• Are you aware that nationally one in three children live in a single parent home? (www.aecf.org) No matter what community you live in, there should be children from a single parent home. If your church is reaching out to the community at large, then in reality you should have one in three children in your church classes from a single parent home.
• Have you tried using statistics for your area with your church leadership? How about finding a successful adult child of divorce and telling your church leadership about what can happen when a church does reach out to some of these children. Or how about giving the statistics about the kids in jail, teen pregnancies or suicide victims and how the majority of these kids come from divorced homes. What might happen if your church reached out to them?
• Ever wonder if you might be out of control if you didn’t know where you were going to sleep each night or where you might wake up each morning? I think if I had to live the life of many of these kids from divorced homes, I’d be out of control too. How about applying some Jesus arms and love to these kids? Or take some classes or read some articles about children of divorce.*
• Know why some of these kids aren’t consistent in their attendance? They go to the other parent’s home every other weekend. Why do we punish the child, when it’s the adult that is causing the problems? Or perhaps the child gets embarrassed at that annual, “attendance contest” we start up every year at the beginning of school. The second week the child of divorce is out of the running.
Let’s go back to that reality show scene. If you knew you were going to be on national television, how would you handle things? Would you react any differently?
Maybe you would be kinder to the children. You might do everything in your power to keep that smile on your face. You might work harder at trying to register five kids from the same family but all with different last names. Instead of talking to the parent, you might actually try connecting with the child in front of you. You just might develop some empathy for their situation.
When the cameras were turned off, I imagine some of you would sit down and seriously rethink your position and your feelings toward children of divorce.
I hope none of you ever have to face T.V. cameras as you welcome children into your church. But why wait to find out how you would react. Sit down today, pray and think about these children. Many will be lost to the Kingdom if you don’t reach out to them. Christ came to save these children too or maybe especially these children, as many don’t have parents that will bring them to the cross.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10 (NIV)
Linda Ranson Jacobs
Healthy Loving Partnerships for Our Kids
© 2011 by the author
* More great articles about how to successfully minister to the child of divorce in your church can be found at Linda’s website http://www.hlp4.com. Linda also offers support, encouragement, and suggestions to help single parents and those working with single parent children.