Whether it's volunteering to teach Sunday school, watching a single mom's kids so she can go to the store, or leading a Bible study for young moms, we'll never know what the Holy Spirit can do with our 60-minute mission.
I admit it. I was one of 'those' moms. You know: the mother who worries no one else could provide for her child like she could, worried about routine and schedule more than cuddle time. I was a working mom and Sunday services were a precious oasis of rest. I enjoyed the music, the sermon, the community. But mostly I just loved being able to sit still.
My time in Sunday morning service was made even more precious because of Rita Ramsey. The first time I dropped my son off at the nursery I was nervous. I squeezed through the door with bags, bottles, a baby carrier, and blankets pouring out of my arms.
Rita listened to my concerns, instructions, and suggestions with such grace.
Without dismissing or scolding me, she simply took my baby boy into her arms. Immediately, I knew that during the next hour he was going to be loved and cared for, and I could relax. Rita was living out her 60-minute mission.
It seems like a simple gesture to watch children for an hour so their moms can enjoy a moment to recharge and refocus. But that hour might include significant moments that make the difference between a mom struggling or succeeding. I hope Rita understands what those Sunday mornings meant to me. I could trust her. I knew her sweet servant spirit, she knew my child, and in her own special way she was being the hands and feet of Jesus to me every Sunday morning.
Some think mothers have the toughest behind-the-scene jobs. But I dare to say that most moms would refuse a title of 'martyr' and prefer one of 'provider.' When a mother enters our church doors we have a beautiful opportunity to support and influence an entire family. So the question is, what are we doing to help mothers provide for their families? The answer becomes even more complex when we consider the growing number of single, working, and teenage moms who need our love and support.
Mothers will look not only for a church that meets their needs but will investigate how their children will be nurtured. That's where our nursery, community, and children's ministries become so valuable and important.
Bethany Reed, a member at Orangewood Church of the Nazarene in Phoenix, Arizona, enjoys the variety of programs her church offers to mothers from all walks of life. After looking at the needs of their community of believers and the surrounding area, leadership of her church put their hands, feet, time, and resources into supporting moms.
Once a week the church provides childcare so that single moms can meet to study scripture and find support. These mothers are also given access to a trusted list of church members who are repairmen and mechanics. If a problem arises with their homes or cars, these moms call someone from the list and find help. Orangewood Nazarene also organizes time for young couples to come to the church for game night and dinner once a quarter. For some families, this is their only chance to have a 'date night' thanks to the childcare that is provided.
Sarah, a single mom from Colorado with four children, appreciated her church members helping her move. It was a simple act that brought a huge blessing. I asked Sarah what is most difficult for her as a single mom in the church: 'I was married for 15 years and during that time I could always find a place to fit in. I'm too old for the singles group and it seems like all the Sunday School classes are geared toward couples or divided by age groups. Sometimes I feel so alone and awkward.'
As a community of believers, we are called to move away from our comfortable seats at the table and serve (Luke 22:27).
When we serve others our eyes are opened. Suddenly we discover the alone, the awkward, and the overwhelmed. Jesus said: 'I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest' (John 4:35).
Lynene Sandbloom's eyes were opened during a baby dedication service at her church in the Kansas City area. The pastor asked if the congregation would support those families in raising their children. 'It hit me that if I didn't volunteer in the classes to help those young mothers find a place and spend time with their friends then I cannot answer yes. I needed to be there!' She has been a junior high mentor, Sunday School teacher, and has volunteered twice a month to teach a class of four-year-olds while the moms of her church meet together and fellowship. 'I know I'm not raising their children,' Lynene commented, 'but I'm supporting these mothers as they grow in their Christian walk and as parents.'
In my eyes, the men and women who volunteer in our nurseries and Sunday School classes are living out Jesus' words: 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' (Matthew 25:40). These servants have raised their own children and now they are supporting the next generation of parents.
Thanks to these angels, mothers can attend activities that bring encouragement, support, and relief from the exhaustion of raising young children. When my boys are grown, I look forward to a season of helping to raise the church's children. I want to give back after receiving so much.
Whether it's volunteering to teach Sunday school, watching a single mom's kids so she can go to the store, or leading a Bible study for young moms, we'll never know what the Holy Spirit can do with our 60-minute mission. We just need to be available.
- Create an e-mail sign-up that will send out an alert for where and when moms can take their children to play at someone's home or at a playground.
- Invite mothers of all ages to meet together during an evening so that working mothers can attend.
- Give your church the gift of more volunteers than available positions.
- Call a mom in your church and commit to giving her one hour of your time per week or month.
- The basics of mothering haven't changed: your experiences and life story are the perfect anecdote for moms of all ages. Be a mentor.
- For young mothers, reach out to the women in your church. They have so much to offer and may not know you are interested in hearing their stories.
- Challenge your women's ministry to provide an event for moms twice a year. Use a panel of moms from your church and enjoy another level of connecting.
- Even if it's simply a statement of support, put something on your website or Facebook page that moms will see and connect with. Many church websites have a search box. When I type in the word 'mom,' what will I find?
Tell us what your church is doing to minister to the mothers in your area? E-mail us at email@example.com.
Kasey Johnson and her husband, Matt, live in Kansas City with their three boys. She enjoys speaking to women's and mother's groups and is currently working on her second book project. She's the author of 7 Ways to Be a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Mom (Beacon Hill Press, 2010). Learn more about Kasey and her ministry by visiting www.smarter-moms.com.
Holiness Today, July/August 2012