On any given Sunday morning, 61% of church attendees are women and roughly 39% are men. For the married women who attend, only 25% of their husbands attend church with them. Look around you, there are probably many women and children attending church alone. When looking around my own church, I realize that many of the women attending church alone are because they are single or divorced.
Divorce, the dreaded D word that nobody likes to talk about in church. In fact, if the annual Sunday school lesson on divorce didn't come around at least once or twice a year, nobody would say anything. The truth is, divorce is very prevalent in the church. When you look at the research numbers done by the Barna group, the divorce rate amongst Christians is similar to that of non-Christians. Again look around your own church and see how many have gone through a divorce at some time in their life. Even some of the married couples are in their second marriages.
Even though the bible teaches against divorce, the church can no longer avoid the population of divorced individuals sitting in the pews. The divorced or those going through divorce need to be ministered to along with everyone else in the congregation dealing with life's issues. What can the church do in particular to be a blessing to these individuals especially women? Here are 3 things the church can do to help.
1. Don't ignore the divorced individuals in the church. When new members join, include marital status on membership forms. Find out what the needs are amongst divorced women in the church. Some may need to network with others for assistance with children or to meet other needs. Offer a directory or list of individuals in the church who perform maintenance and repairs, lawn services or who offer moving assistance or other pertinent services.
2. Acknowledge that divorce happens in the church and offer ministries that support individuals in need. Offer a ministry or a support group for the divorced. Several churches offer marriage ministries for new couples and single's ministries to cater to young adults looking for mates. Although the singles ministry is great, based on the age demographics, the single ministry may not be the best fit for a women over 40 who has recently experienced divorce.
3. Pastors and Church Leaders must be trained in how to minister to the divorced. Women may be experiencing a full range of emotions including fear, guilt, sadness, anger and confusion. If those they seek for counsel do not understand the divorce journey, they may not be able to truly help. In addition, trained leaders can also assist couples before they reach the point of divorce.
Finally, we can no longer afford to ignore this growing number of individuals sitting in our pews. The church is supposed to be a help to all it members. The next time you are in church, ask yourself the question, "What is my church doing to minister to the divorced?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach