HOW CHURCHES CAN VALUE THE VULNERABLE
Southern Baptists believe human life is sacred from the moment of conception. That human life is formed by God in His image, and is therefore worthy of honor and dignity. Southern Baptist churches are encouraged to show the love of Christ through the care, support, and protection of human life, especially to those in our society who are young and vulnerable, as well as to those adults who care for and protect them. While churches are faithfully ministering to parents and children of all ages and stages of life, some of the most needy and vulnerable can be easily overlooked.
Consider some of the many opportunities your congregation and leadership can show Christ’s love, and a deep regard for all human life, by ministering to these special individuals within the walls of your church:
- Pregnant mothers: In the United States, 125,000 unborn children are aborted every day. Those babies carried to term often receive no prenatal medical care during pregnancy, often resulting in low-birth weight and/or death. Churches can reach out to pregnant moms by:
- Encouraging adoption over abortion if they cannot keep the child;
- Observing SBC special Sunday emphases, such as National Adoption Day (November 18, 2017);
- Holding special worship services that focus on the Biblical value of life;
- Providing finances to pay for prenatal care;
- Encouraging church members to personally minister to expectant mothers, etc.
- Single mothers: About 15 million single mothers, many of them impoverished and unchurched, live in the United States today. Forty-nine percent of these moms have never married (4,875,000), and fifty-one percent (5,055,000) have become single through divorce, separation, and/or death of a spouse. Consider these suggestions to provide special ministry to single moms and their children in your church and community:
- Your church may already sponsor a ministry to single adults, but consider creating a support program tailored just to single mothers.
- Teach church members to be sensitive to their needs, and how to show love, support, encouragement, and offer hands-on help.
- As a congregation, seek to address some of their unique financial and practical needs;
- Strive to involve both mothers and children in church programs, as well as within the activities of the congregation’s families.
- Grandparents rearing grandchildren: The number of grandparents rearing grandchildren full time is increasing. In 2014, 2.7 million grandparents were solely responsible for grandchildren, caring for them 24/7. Grandparents must often take full custody of grandchildren for a number of reasons including: an adult child too young and immature to care for children; a selfish or irresponsible parent; drug and/or alcohol-addicted parents, etc. Rather than watch their grandchildren be neglected, harmed, or placed in childcare services, grandparents often take on the child-rearing responsibility themselves. It often results in emotional and physical exhaustion, a struggle to survive on fixed incomes, and age-related health issues. With creative planning, a caring church can minister to grandparents in many ways:
- Pray for and with grandparents, reminding them they are valued, appreciated, and remembered.
- Pray for and with their grandchildren, and involve them in regular Bible study classes and age-appropriate church programs.
- Help them in financial ways, if needed.
- Teach church leaders and members how to love and support the congregation’s grandparents as well as the grandchildren.
- Observe National Grandparents Day (Sunday, September 10, 2017) with a special Sunday service that honors all grandparents.
- Provide church and community resources to help them in practical ways: support groups, congregation-involved childcare help; church sponsored activities, etc.
- Provide ministry to the adult children of these grandparents through parenting classes, Bible study, support groups, and SBC Sunday emphases, such as Substance Abuse Prevention Sunday (March 19, 2017), and others.
As your church shows the love of Christ through the care, support, and protection of human life, seek to be especially sensitive to those in your congregation who are young and vulnerable, and to those who care for them. The children of today are the leaders and congregations of tomorrow’s churches.
[Some information found at: www.sbc.net/resolutions/2256/on-the-sanctity-of-human-life; www.worldometers.info/abortions; pastors.com/5-reasons-your-church-should-serve-single-moms/#; singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics; www.careleader.org/10-ways-church-can-help-emotionally-exhausted-grandparents-raise-grandchildren]
Written for the Baptist Convention of New England by Denise George. Denise is the author of 30 books, including the new Penguin Random House book: The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II.