Ministering to the Divorced

by Jonathan Adkins

Alex enters through the front doors of the church across from her neighborhood. She and her 4-year-old son are visiting for the first time, and she is nervous about how she will be received by the ministerial staff and congregation. Her divorce is close to being finalized, and she is deeply hurt and confused about how to move forward. “Will the church receive me?” “Don’t churches minister exclusively to married people?” “Where do I fit in?”

How can a church effectively minister to someone such as Alex? What are some ways in which your church can love people well who are going through divorce and guide them in spiritual principles of recovery? This article will help equip your church to provide biblical support and encouragement to those recovering from divorce. Below are several suggestions.

Host a Divorce Recovery Class – One of the most effective ways to come alongside and help someone recuperate from divorce is by providing a class specifically focused on divorce recovery. Several curriculum options are available, and one recommended choice is DivorceCare, a curriculum provided by the nonprofit ministry Church Initiative. This 13-week class covers topics such as the road to healing, anger, loneliness, depression, financial survival, and starting new relationships. It is best to have table groups for discussion within these classes with both male and female facilitators, enabling your church to focus on the unique needs of both in the healing process.

Host a Single-Parent Class – Those going through divorce may be facing the unique challenge of raising a child on their own for the first time. Someone in this stage of life will benefit greatly from a single-parent group designed to equip parents with training about finances, pursuit of his or her career while raising a child, parenting goals and expectations, parenting approaches, conflict and resolution, and more. Prestonwood utilizes the 13-week Single & Parenting curriculum developed by Church Initiative, the same ministry behind DivorceCare.

Men’s and Women’s Small Groups – Depending on how recent someone’s divorce was, it may be best for that person to connect into a men- or women-only group rather than a coed group. We find that many who have gone through our divorce recovery group prefer to be in this type of environment for several months as they continue to heal.

Financial Guidance – Does your church currently provide any kind of financial training for what the Bible says about financial stewardship and budgeting?

PALs – PALs is a Christ-centered mentoring program at Prestonwood that uses outdoor adventures to reach boys from single-parent families. PALs participants go on four to six outdoor events each year, and fatherless boys are mentored on these trips by men who are trained and vetted by Prestonwood leadership. Your church can set up a comparable program and also think through similar ways to reach the motherless girls in your church and community.

Provide a Place to Serve – As people heal from divorce, it is often human nature to focus a disproportionate amount of time on the negative circumstances. Serving helps to take a person’s thoughts off of his or her own struggles while he/she pours time into someone or something beyond himself or herself.

As you implement these ideas, I trust that God will use your church to bless those recovering from divorce.

Jonathan Adkins serves as Minister to Single Adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

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