Still another idea to empower singleparent families is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Christmas shopâ&#x20AC;? where instead of handing out Christmas gifts to children of single-parent families during the holidays, single parents are encouraged to come and purchase donated items at a much-reduced cost.49 A simple paradigm shift in this type of ministry can do much in the way of nurturing dignity for single parents and empowering them to provide for themselves and their families. For most single parents, programs that encourage self-improvement are far more valuable than a one-time gift. Churches must be careful not to foster a codependent relationship where single parents expect all needs to be met by the church at all times.50 Sometimes ministries that serve impoverished single-parent families can unintentionally make the parents feel like failures for being unable to provide for their own familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs.51
AT\^eT 1PaaXTab U^a BX]V[T ?PaT]cb c^ 6Tc 8]e^[eTS X] <X]Xbcah As important as it is for churches to creatively meet the needs of single parents, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just as critical that they encourage single parents to serve. Full membership in the body of Christ involves responsibilities.52 Juggling the everyday tasks of parenting and LTWSV`TLU[ PZ KPMĂ&#x201E;J\S[ I\[ JO\YJOLZ # } BX]V[T ?PaT]cX]V
can call on single parents to serve, even in small or infrequent ways. Serving others pleases God, helps our communities, and models servanthood to the children of single-parent families.53 As Jesus said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more blessed to give than receive.â&#x20AC;?54 6M[LU P[ÂťZ KPMĂ&#x201E;J\S[ MVY ZPUNSL WHYLU[Z [V get involved in ministries that require a lot of time. This means churches TH` ULLK [V IL Ă&#x2026;L_PISL PU [OLPY \Z\HS way of doing things to include single parents and their children.55
1dX[SX]V 1[^RZb U^a 7TP[cWh 5P\X[XTb Single parenthood need not spell disaster for moms, dads, or children when steps are taken to build systems for a healthy family life. The very fabric of our communities could be changed for the better if churches and
cities in Lake County worked together toward a common vision of strong, stable families. Positive action, taken one step at a time, by both parents and churches JHU YLZ\S[ PU Ă&#x2026;V\YPZOPUN ZPUNSL WHYLU[ families. Remember that the God of grace, who â&#x20AC;&#x153;is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him,â&#x20AC;?56 offers restoration for the broken, renewal for the weary, and redemption for the burdened. He is the one we turn to in times of hardship. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we ^PSS Ă&#x201E;UK OLSW Âš57 Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strive together to create healthy family structures that bring vitality to our Northwest Indiana region.
ATU [TRcX^] @dTbcX^]b U^a BX]V[T ?PaT]cX]V 4bbPh Â&#x2039; Do you know any single parents who need a good support network? What are some creative ways you or your church can minister to single parents and effectively meet their needs? Â&#x2039; Many single parents have dreams and goals for their lives, like obtaining their college degree. What are some creative ways churches can empower single parents to achieve their own goals for their families? Â&#x2039; Do you share Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart for those who are going it alone as referenced in the essay? Why or why not? What are some ways you can cultivate a heart of compassion for Northwest Indianaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s single parents? Â&#x2039; What are some ways you could serve organizations in the Ways to Connect section to help encourage single parents in Northwest Indiana?