Discipleship ideas for divorcing and single parents


Discipleship for Single and Divorcing Parents


When I’m at children’s ministers conferences I hear many refer to Deuteronomy 6:6–8. They usually explain the importance of parents being responsible to disciple their children based on this Scripture. I think most of us assume parents have the greatest influence on their children. While I agree with that idea, I wonder if we aren’t assuming all children live in a loving, Christian two-parent home.

When I experienced a divorce, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my children were going to be strongly influenced by a father who’d decided that he no longer needed to live a Christian lifestyle. Would I be able to lead my kids to follow and trust in Christ? Would their father steer them away from the Lord? A lot of single parents worry about this!

Single parents can still make a difference

As a church we need to reach out to single parents and help them realize that all is not lost! They can still make a difference in the life of their children. We do this by discipling single parents, which in turn shows them how to disciple their own children. We can teach them to live a Christlike life before their children. We can remind them to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them through times when their children are struggling.

How someone discipled me

My Bible study teacher at the time of my divorce was my mentor. She took me under her wings and loved me through those troubling times. She cried with me, gave me just the right Scripture on the day I needed it. She prayed over me. She was available when I needed a listening ear.

The most important Scripture she ever gave me was Romans 8:26, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” She said, “Just imagine, when problems are so deep that you don’t know what to pray or you hurt so bad that you can’t put your hurt into words, that the Holy Spirit will hear those moans and sighs you utter.” More than once I knelt beside my bed and remembered that Scripture.

My friend’s witness to me taught me to be able to disciple my own children by remembering to pray with them, to give them God’s Word on a special day, and to love them through their troubling times with their dad. Because my friend would say, “Let’s pray for that right now,” I learned to say to my kids, “Well, let’s stop and pray for that right now.” I learned to pray over the phone with them, in emails, and now even in texts.

Show parents how to positively influence their children

Church leaders need to find mentors who can walk alongside single parents. Mentors can provide Scriptures when the single parents are discouraged or feel hopeless. One such passage that I use is 2 Samuel 22:1720a (NLT): “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety.”

Mentors can listen and respond when and where needed. They can display a faith walk and teach single parents how to develop a faith walk using devotions and Scriptures. This is a way for mentors and friends in the church to model the parenting/discipleship relationship explained in Deuteronomy 6:7.

Mentors and friends can relay personal experiences of how in their families they talk about the Scriptures at home. It’s even better if a single parent is invited to the home to see her mentor do this with her children. The parent can then share what she’s learned with her child.

By doing this you will be giving single parents ideas about when to talk about God’s Word. By spending time with single parents and talking to them often about God and His ways and showing them how you live your life, you show parents how to disciple their children according to Deuteronomy 6:6–8.

  • “… when you get up”: Share God’s Word at breakfast.
  • “… when you sit at home”: Share your day and how the Lord worked in your life that day, or an answer to a prayer you’ve prayed.
  • “… when you walk along the road”: Most of us don’t walk to many places, but couldn’t sharing God’s truths take place in the car driving the child to school or daycare? Or what about when you are relaxing, playing with your child, laughing, and just having fun being together?
  • “… when you lie down”: Sharing and praying with the child can take place as a bedtime ritual.

Daryl’s story

Daryl started attending our DivorceCare group a couple of years ago. He was hurt, angry, and broken, but he had recently come to know Christ as his Savior and wanted to know more about healing in the Lord and moving forward in his Christian life. Our leaders supported him, prayed for him and his kids, shared Scriptures with him, and mentored him through this rough time. Today Daryl has a powerful testimony. He says,

When I was married to my kids’ mother I was not a Christian. I didn’t life a Christian lifestyle. After my divorce I came to know Christ as my personal Savior. Shortly after that, my ex remarried and moved our kids eight hours away. So since our divorce and since I became a Christian I’ve only had my kids a few times. I was worried about how much of a witness I could be when they only saw me one month out of the year. But last summer when my kids were here with me, my daughter came to know Christ as her Savior and was baptized right here in this church.

Daryl lived out his Christian life before his children. In other words, he did everyday things with his kids such as praying with them at mealtimes, praying and doing devotions at bedtime, sharing answers to prayers, and taking them to church each Sunday. He also made arrangements for them to go to Vacation Bible School, and that’s where his daughter made her public profession of faith. He influenced his kids by living out his faith in front of them.

Daryl gave me permission to share his story because he wants to encourage single parents to disciple their children even when their children aren’t with them on a daily basis. He also wants ministry leaders to know how important it is to continually disciple single parents.

When you disciple single parents, you will be helping them disciple their children.


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