Ministering to Divorced People
Depending on what survey you read, the divorce rate in the U.S. is somewhere between 41 and 50 percent. And the divorce rate has recently gone down primarily because more people are living together and younger people are waiting longer to get married.
Part of my work is focused on people who are struggling to improve their lives after divorce. These people have taught me many things, including what churches can do to respond to divorced people.
1. Provide counseling. Churches need to be proactive and counsel people who are struggling in their marriages before it is too late. If a church does not provide counseling, it needs to offer to pay for professional services.
2. Teach relationship classes. Churches can provide education in the form of marriage relationships, parenting skills, divorce recovery classes and dating relationships for singles.
3. Encourage them. Sometimes, churches tend to ignore divorced people because they don’t know what to say or do. Divorced people have the same needs for community as everyone else. In fact, they may even struggle more than a married person to find their niche. If we don’t know what to say to encourage a divorced person, it is better to fumble through a sentence or offer a hug than simply ignore them.
4. Care for them. Churches tend to spend much of their time focusing on the needs of nuclear families, causing divorced people to feel left out. Churches need to go out of their way to care for divorced people by providing ministries that meet their specific needs.
5. Love their children. Children are the innocent victims of divorce. Many of them struggle with feelings of guilt, abandonment, and low self-esteem. Churches can design mentoring programs or provide “adopted grandparents” to care for these children.
6. Accept them. Divorced people are sometimes relegated to second place in a church. This gives them the impression that God’s love is conditional and earned. Divorced people need to be accepted in every aspect of church life.
Divorced people need people who will bring the love of Jesus to them. It is the responsibility of every disciple of Jesus to accept this mission and express his/her love to others.
What else can churches do to minister to divorced people?