In this series, we present a hypothetical speech to a pastor or congregation about the need to start a divorce ministry for kids program at your church. In this church, we are pitching the Divorce Care 4 Kids [DC4K] ministry as it is a ministry whose purpose and values coincide almost precisely with those of Divorce Ministry 4 Kids. Please enjoy the entire series by checking out all four installments:
- Part 1 – Some of the shocking statistics about children of divorce and some of the impacts that divorce has on kids.
- Part 2 – Is there a need for the church to get involved and, more importantly, does the Bible supports getting involved?
- Part 3 – Localized statistics demonstrating the need for a program in my particular area and what the church can do.
- Part 4 – What the Church as a whole can do and how members of the congregation can help individually.
Click on the pdf link to the right for a complete pdf copy of the entire speech.
Does the Church Need to Get Involved?
Children of divorce are thrown into a torrent of change and overwhelming emotions. At a time in their lives when they need a support system the most, their natural support system – their family – is falling apart. Unlike the death of a parent where friends, family and the community rally behind children, children of divorce are left without any semblance of support.
In her groundbreaking book Between Two Worlds, Elizabeth Marquardt conducted a study of hundreds of children of divorce. She found that, for children who were regularly attending a church or synagogue at the time of their parents’ divorce, two-thirds said that no-one from clergy or the congregation reached out to them during their parents’ divorce[i]. An older study found that less than 10% of children of divorce had any support from adults other than relatives during the acute phase of the divorce[ii].
Should the Church Get Involved?
There is a clear and pressing need for someone to stand in the gap for these children of divorce, but is the church the appropriate entity to do that? To the answer that question, we must turn to God’s Word. One of the best known scriptures when it comes to divorce is found in the book of Malachi. You may have heard it before:
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel… [Malachi 5:16a, NIV]
There is some disagreement about the correct translation of the verse from the original language, but regardless of how you translate this particular verse, I believe the fact is irrefutable – God does hate divorce. He does not, however, hate the divorcee. However, that is not the point today. I actually want to focus your attention on the verse preceding this one for some insight into one of the reasons why God hates divorce. Malachi 5:15 tells us:
Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. [Malachi 5:15, NIV]
God intended a man and woman to be married and become one in both flesh and spirit. We see this from the very beginning of the Book of Genesis. We know that one of the reasons God created marriage was as a model, albeit an imperfect one, of the relationship between Christ and the church. This verse tells us that another reason God created marriage was because He was “seeking Godly offspring” as the result of the marriage. The clear implication here, given the subsequent verse, is that divorce negatively impacts this goal. One of the reasons why God hates divorce is because it impedes the development of Godly children. When marriage falls apart as a means of creating such godly offspring, something or someone else must step up to fill this void. Of course, God is sovereign, and He could simply do it Himself, but like so many other things He chooses to work through human agents – you and me.
James, the brother of Jesus, makes the point very clear:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1:27, NIV]
Children of divorce are our modern day orphans, and it is time for the church to stand in the gap for them and step up to minister to their needs.
Listen to the word of Jesus:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ [Matthew 25:34-40, NIV]
It is way past time for the church to step up and take care of the “least of these” when it comes to children of divorce.
[ii] An Exploration of the Ramifications of Divorce on Children and Adolescents by Sara Eleoff, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, November 2003 (http://www.childadvocate.net/divorce_effects_on_children.htm) citing Wallerstein, JS. Corbin SB. The Child and the Vicissitudes of Divorce.