Does your church disciple single dads?



We hear a lot in the news about deadbeat single dads. These stories are about single dads who don’t step up to the plate and support their children. Not long ago there was the news story in the New York Times titled, Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat. I’m not here to debate the political correctness of that situation. I mention it because I want to help set the tone for why the church should disciple single parents especially single dads.

Let me also emphasis that not all single dads are deadbeat dads! I know several outstanding single dads. They are upstanding Christian men who love the Lord and their children. They work hard at their jobs. They serve the Lord and some are co-parenting their children and doing an excellent job of it. Others dads are not so blessed, as they miss their children whom they only get to see every other weekend and one night a week but they are still doing a good job of supporting their children.

And make no mistake, there are also some single mothers who fall into the “deadbeat” category. They don’t support their children and leave responsibility for raising children to the dad. Statistically, this trend is a much smaller percentage of the population, but it is a growing problem. We are focusing on the single father in this post, but many of the principles and issues could apply to a deadbeat mother as well.

Why do fathers not support their children? I’ve heard a myriad of explanations and excuses. Many are rationalizations or the father is acting out of anger. On the other hand, some single fathers are destitute and cannot even support themselves. I’ll explore some scenarios, and how they can be reversed, in the remainder of this post.

What if the church supported single dads?

Imagine a harassed single dad struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps he is lonely, missing his kids. His depression gets the best of him and he loses a good paying job. He skips his child support, gets arrested so on and so on. It is going to be pretty much downhill after that.

Now imagine a church coming alongside a single dad.

  • They support him emotionally.
  • They help him heal from the heartbreak that brought him to being a single dad and offer programs like DivorceCare or GriefShare to help him work through the emotional overload he is experiencing.
  • They encourage him to use church helps such as the food pantry to help feed himself and his kids.
  • They provide other single dads or men in blended families to mentor and support him.
  • They not only include him in a men’s bible study but they encourage him to be there each week. Someone actually contacts him when he misses the bible study.
  • They encourage him to serve in the church, usher, sing in the choir, serve on committees that support the church such as budget, long range planning, etc.

All of those reasons men give for not supporting their kids might be turned around if they could find Jesus Christ, serve Him and get the support of the church family.

Some examples: the man says … the church does

  • “I barely make enough money to support myself, let alone her and the kids.”

The church provides support in the way of clothes closet, food pantry, medical or dental assistance.

  • “I pay what the courts ordered me to pay when we signed the divorce papers. Now she tells me since they are teens and not preschoolers it cost more money to raise them.”

The church provides parenting classes on child development. This helps the single dad that doesn’t live with his children understand the child’s needs as they go from stage to stage in the growth process.

  • “I was giving her money for the kids but she spends it all on herself.”

The church hosts financial and budgeting workshops or classes to help the single dad not only realize the cost of providing for a family but also to help him better handle his own finances.

  • “She doesn’t really need to be living in that nice of a house. She needs to sell it and move into an apartment.”

While there might be some validity to this, it is not the dad’s right to tell the ex wife how to live. His obsession with his ex wife’s life style might come from bitterness or the hurt he is still feeling from being separated from his children. Providing Bible studies and sessions on forgiveness will benefit this single dad.

  • “I have a right to be happy too, you know. I need my nights out.”

Single dads need friends. They need a social life. The church could provide those times with men’s night out; fishing trips, camp outs, men’s small group or Sunday Bible study class.

  • “I have this daughter and we have a Mother’s Day tea coming up. What am I supposed to do with my daughter who is upset she doesn’t get to go?”

The women of the church could step up and perhaps an older woman who has grown kids or a single woman could take the child.

What is your church doing to disciple the single dads in you community?

If you are a single dad what do you have to say to the church about how they can disciple you? Or better yet, what are you doing to contribute to your church family and disciple other single dads in your community?


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