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.
The idea of ministering to children of divorce is something that must be addressed by churches in general, but there is a very real, and very immediate, need for such a ministry in our own church and in our own community.
At a normal weekend at our church, we have about 250 kids in the nursery up through high school ministry. Based on the statistics presented earlier, that means that statistically 100 of those kids do not live with their married biological parents. 15 live in stepfamilies and 66 live with a single parent, and that’s just in our church. In Gahanna, Ohio (the city where our church is located), there are 8,899 kids (based on the 2010 U.S. Census data)[i]. Given the national statistics, that means approximately 526 children in our community live in step-families and 2,365 live in single-parent homes. If we take that one step further to include our surrounding communities (excluding Columbus)[ii], that’s a total of 2,200 kids living in step-families and 10,790 living in single-parent homes. Statistically, the city of Columbus has nearly 11,500 kids living in step families and over 51,000 living in single parent homes[iii]. There are an overwhelming number of children in our church, in our community and in surrounding communities who need our help.
However, a quick search of Divorce Care 4 Kids online shows only 10 churches within 30 miles of Columbus that offer a DC4K support group for kids, and only one in the geographic region I gave you statistics for earlier (Gahanna and surrounding cities excluding Columbus). By contrast, 30 churches offer the adult equivalent known Divorce Care. A quick Google search reveals several more Divorce Recovery type ministries for adults throughout the city. A similar Google search did not reveal any additional similar ministries for kids.
The number of hurting children in our neighborhoods and surrounding neighborhoods is phenomenal, and vehicles for healing are beyond limited. This all points to the overwhelming need for ministry to children of divorce in our area.
What Can the Church Do?
The answer to the question, “What Can the Church Do?” is nothing. Nothing, that is, apart from the power of Christ. With Christ though, the church can offer these kids a means of lasting healing and hope, and that is a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Psalm 34:18 reminds us:
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. [Psalms 34:18 ESV]
At Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, that is the verse that our entire mission is based on. The statistics and outcomes cited above can seem hopeless and lead to despair, but God reminds us that He is never far away from these kids. Out of the darkness of the most life-shattering event of their young lives, we can offer to them a Father who will never leave them, a Great Physician who can heal all their wounds and a Savior who can meet their eternal needs.
When the enemy whispers in their ear, and he will, that “this is all your fault,” we must be there to remind them that they are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do the works he has laid before us. When the enemy convinces the child of divorce that there is no hope and that all is lost, we must be there to remind them Jesus is a God of Hope and the source of our hope. When the child of divorce feels abandoned by their earthly parent(s), it is our job to remind them in our words and our actions that God has said, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” When a child’s trust is dashed by a parent who has walked away, the church must be there to remind them that we have a Heavenly Father who is the same yesterday, today and forever. When a child of divorce feels overwhelmed and wonders if things will ever get better, we must be the hands and feet and Jesus Christ.
In order to adequately serve these kids, there are many things that the church must do ranging from supporting marriage and single parents to remembering these kids in our prayers and programming. All of these represent long term systemic changes both in attitude and practice. One of the immediate things we can do, though, is to begin a Divorce Care 4 Kids program to serve and support kids who are currently, or have recently, suffered through the divorce of their parents.
[i] Based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data from the table “Single Years of Age and Sex: 2010” from American Fact Finder at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
[ii] This statistic includes Mifflin Village, Blendon Township, Jefferson Village, Plain Township, New Albany Village, Whitehall, Reynoldsburg and Truro Township for a total of 40,597 kids (based on 2010 U.S. Census data – see note above).