by Janice R. Love,
The church has been the foundation in the African American community for decades. Individuals and families seek membership for many reasons including: Christian growth and development, opportunities to serve God and others, friendships, assistance with accountability, having a sense of community, friendships, and having a healthy environment to raise children. Traditionally, the church has built ministries around traditional families. However, demographics are changing and families aren’t so traditional anymore. The church is now filled with divorced individuals, single parents and most specifically blended families.
Are churches capable of ministering to the new blended family? With over two decades of Christian ministry under his belt, my husband thought he had a handle on what families were going through when there is a divorce and/or a remarriage, and families with children are forced to join together. However, our blended family experience totally changed his approach to ministering to these families.
Here are five ways the church can be a blessing to blended families.
- Get Trained. Church leadership, once trained in stepfamily dynamics, can better minister to blended family needs. Share biblical accounts of stepfamilies. For example, Jesus was raised in a blended family. The story of Moses is another wonderful story to share.
- Add to Premarital Counseling. Incorporate a blended family component into premarital counseling and/or marriage workshops and retreats.
- Develop Step-family Ministries. Develop a step-family ministry where couples can fellowship, support and share with one another. A ministry can help families feel a sense of community.
- Provide Resources. Make books and DVD resources available. There are numerous resources that can assist ministries and blended families.
- Recognize Step-parents. Celebrate Step-moms and Step-dads on traditional days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Stepparents often get left out on these special days.
Don’t forget, step parenting is much different than parenting. And churches must be able to meet families where they are. If you are a member of a church, speak with church leaders about being a blessing to blended families.
Janice R. Love, known as “JLove Stepmom Coach” is the author of One Plus One Equals Ten: A First Lady’s Survival Guide for Stepmoms. She is the biological mom of two children and a stepmom to six. Janice earned a Master’s in Biological /Health Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and is certified as a Stepfamily Coach by The Stepfamily Foundation, Incorporated. Along with her husband, Rev., Dr. Bobby L. Love, she is the cofounder of Step with Love (http://www.stepwithlove.org/), a ministry offering blended family counseling, coaching and seminars for couples, stepmoms and churches respectively. They reside in the Kansas City area.
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