How to Host a Church Ladies’ Luncheon In Your Home

 
“… distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”
Romans 12:13 NKJV
 

A few years ago, when my oldest son was still a baby, I asked God what I could do to reach out to the women in my church.  An idea drifted in from Him regarding hospitality.  Thus began “Ladies Lunch at Sara’s.”

Three guidelines determined my plans:

     1.  Cover the entire event with prayer.
     2.  Invite three ladies at a time, making a group of four.
     3.  Keep it simple.

The Guests

I live 45 minutes from my church.  So most of our church ladies live near each other, down by the church.  It made me smile to think of ladies fellowshipping while driving to and from the event.  So, I whipped out my handy-dandy Church Directory (with photos) and started leafing through.  I made a few calls: some ladies had to work that day or had other plans.  But, eventually I came up with three hearty souls, willing to brave the drive.

Each luncheon I tried to choose at least one really talkative lady, so that there wouldn’t be a multitude of awkward silences.  I prayed over my guest list, asking God who He wanted to come, who needed to get better acquainted, and who needed encouragement.

My House

Our home is graced with a tiny dining room, and I was enthused to pull out my pretty dishes that I hardly ever use.  Remembering the many Swedish meals so lovingly served on the very same table, I joyfully decorated the worn-with-age table (covered with a pretty cloth) that had belonged to my grandparents.

I wanted to make the setting pretty and “girly” for this ladies day out.  But, I didn’t want it to be too fancy.  Sometimes I wonder if I made it too pretty (is that possible?) and so ladies didn’t feel like they could reciprocate because they didn’t feel like their luncheon would be similar to mine.  I hope that is not the case!  In the future I plan to keep it a bit more simple.

The Menu

Next came the menu – simple and delicious:

Chicken Salad or Chicken Caesar Salad
Crusty Cheesy Garlic Bread
Cherry Pie Fruit Salad or Fresh Fruit
Double Chocolate Pudding Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Tea/Coffee/Water

I prepared as much as I could ahead of time, and put it all together at the last minute.  Every luncheon I used the SAME menu.  This helped greatly in shopping for ingredients and preparing!  Tweaking the dishes caused them to get yummier each time I prepared them.

It seems like I also asked people ahead of time if they had any food allergies.  For sure I would do that now, since I am now gluten-intolerant and much more aware of such needs.  In case you are interested, I’ve posted my recipes below.

The Luncheon

Welcoming the guests was a joy.  My house isn’t tiny, nor it is huge.  One lady unknowingly made my day by calling my home “cozy like a cottage.”  My goal was to make my guests feel comfortable and to soothe their spirits with God’s tender loving care.  I wanted to honor them each as the precious souls they are, lovingly designed by God for a special purpose.

The unofficial schedule looked something like this:

Day Before

Set the table.  Cook the chicken.  Chill the cans of fruit for the fruit salad.  Place my crock-pot on the kitchen counter. Pray!

11:30     

Welcome the ladies & seat them in the family room while I finish small details.  Ask them if they would like something to drink.

11:40   

Invite the ladies to come to the table.  Sit down and pray together.  Eat!  I tried to balance the visit so no one woman monopolized the conversation.  My goal was to: curve away from gossip, try to point the conversation toward spiritual matters, get to know the ladies better, and have fun!

12:05     

Remove dirty dishes and serve dessert with hot tea and coffee.

12:20     

Retire to the family room for more conversation. 

After about another hour, eventually someone would say, “I think it’s time for us to go home.”  They always stayed just the right amount of time. 

Variations

The ladies luncheons worked perfectly during that stage of my life, because I timed the luncheon during my son’s nap.  Nowadays it would be a bit more challenging with sons ages seven and five, who are anxious to be part of anything involving food. 

Here are some ideas you could consider when tweaking this idea to fit your current stage of life:

1.  Join with another lady from your church and have the luncheon either at your house, her house, at a park, or at church.

2.  Buy similar sized baskets at a garage sale or thrift store.  Have a fancy “basket lunch” with simple items.  Line it with a cloth napkin.  Everything in the basket will taste delicious because it is in a fancy container and is shared with friends.  And there will be no last minute cooking, as well as simple clean-up.

3.  Include your children in the prayerful preparations.  They could be “chefs,” “waiters” or “waitresses” during the meal.  Tell them not to expect a tip, but plan a special time together for afterward: playing their favorite game, or take them out to ice cream and talk about how encouraged the ladies were by the time together.

4.  Plan for a larger group potluck.  You could announce a theme: salad potluck, dessert potluck, chocolate potluck, garden bounty potluck, pizza potluck (veggie pizza, fruit pizza, “real” pizza, and dessert pizza!), picnic baskets, etc. 

5.  Ask ladies to bring a “show-and-tell” item: something that is special to them to talk about to the group.

6.  No matter what, plan to include Christ in your party.  Write Bible verses on slips of paper and set them around the table.  Have a list of questions, some off-the-wall silly and others more spiritual in nature, to ask around the table during lunch.  Share a brief devotional.  Ask the group, “What has God been doing in your life?” and see where the conversation leads.  Inquire about prayer needs and pray together as a small group. 

7.  Prepare a small token of friendship to give them when they leave.  Keep it inexpensive and simple!  It could be a flower with a verse attached with a curly ribbon.  Or it could be a Bible verse magnet for their refrigerator.  How about a Dollar Store doily tied with pretty bowMaybe it could be a craft made by you and/or your children.

8.  Consider this part of your children’s education.  They can learn much about hospitality, socializing, manners, serving, and the delight of ministering to others through hosting a ladies’ luncheon.

9.  Mail each of the ladies a note, thanking them for coming and telling them what you appreciate about them.  Don’t forget to add an uplifting Bible verse.

Conclusion

When I became pregnant with our second child and was very sick most of the time, ladies luncheons could not continue.  I miss them and hope I can do it again someday.  As I look back on the five – six groups of ladies I had in my home, over the span of a few months, I thank God for the rich memories and treasured moments of encouragement He allowed us to enjoy. 

Sometimes ladies forgot to say thank you, while others brought a hostess gift or wrote a thank you note afterward.  I was touched to tears by one widow who sent a note describing the luncheon as “a highlight of her life.”  A few times I was sad because I did not receive an invitation back, but so much greater was the overwhelming joy that came from serving God and others!

Perhaps God is calling you to a ministry of hospitality in your home.  Keep it simple and God-centered, and you can’t go wrong!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Recipes

Chicken Salad (a yummy college home-economics class recipe – 6 servings)
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup pineapple chunks, halved
12 black olives, halved
4 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted (browned in saucepan for 4 minutes)
1/2 cup mayo
Lettuce – 1 head

Chill plates (or serve right away out of the refrigerator).  Toss chicken and salt.  Add pineapple, celery, olives and mayo.  Lightly toss – don’t overwork.  Serve over lettuce – garnished with sliced almonds. 

Chicken Caesar Salad (from my dear friend, Barbara – 6 servings)
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1/2 – 3/4 cups parmesan cheese
1 bottle Classic Caesar Kraft dressing
14 grape tomatoes, halved
Italian croutons

Toss first three ingredients together lightly.  Top with tomatoes and croutons.  Be sure all the ingredients are served well-chilled.

Crusty Cheesy Garlic Bread (source unknown)
3/4 stick of butter, melted
3 TBSP. dried chives
2 TBSP. minced garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
1 loaf Italian bread

Combine the first five ingredients and brush on sliced Italian bread (3/4″ slices).  Broil for 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm in a basket, wrapped in a cloth towel or napkin.

Cherry Pie Fruit Salad (source unknown)
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can sliced peaches
1 can sliced pear
1 can apricots
1 can pineapple chunks
Optional: blueberries, strawberries, grapes

Drain canned fruit and place all fruit in a large bowl.  Stir together and chill.  Just before serving, pour it into a clean bowl so it will look fresh and pretty.  Serve in small dishes or ramekins.

Crockpot Double Chocolate Pudding Cake (from my college friend, Jen … a chocolate lover’s dream come true!)

Mix:                                   
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Stir in:
1/2 cup milk
3 TBSP. melted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Place batter in 3 1/2 quart crock-pot. 
In another bowl, mix:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Sprinkle over batter in crockpot.  Gently pour 1 2/3 c. hot water over the top.  DO NOT STIR!  Cover and cook on high 1 3/4 – 2 hours.  Do not cook on low.  Serve with ice cream.

Kingdom Chronicles VBS

 
 
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10

We just finished our summer Vacation Bible School last night.  Several children and their families turned out for the closing program.  I am so grateful that our pastor chose Kingdom Chronicles, put out by Answer In Genesis.  It was a great week!

The castle theme was fun, of course, but more importantly the teaching from God’s Word about how to prepare for daily living was solid and practical.  Based on the armor of God passage in Ephesians 6, children age 4 – entering 7th grade learned how to be strong in God, the King of Kings.

I love the music in this program!  Most of the songs were written by Ron Hamilton, Jonathan Hamilton, and Buddy Davis.  We didn’t purchase the soundtracks.  I enjoyed serving as pianist, and I think it’s safe to say that all the children and adults were blessed by every song.

We also didn’t purchase their craft supplies.  Instead our pastor’s wife directed the craft making of a “stained glass window” with card boxes, transparencies, “jewels,” and markers.  They turned out to be quite lovely.

Last week several children chose to follow God’s kingdom instead of Satan’s kingdom.  Please pray for us as we follow up with the families who participated. 

I’m so thankful we were able to be part of it, and I can’t wait until next year!  What did your church do for VBS this year?  Would love to hear about it below!

To learn more about Kingdom Chronicles, click here.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:14

Prepare To Worship


“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

It is Saturday evening.  My husband and I are sitting near each other working on our computers while listening to one of our favorite music stations.  If you’d like to listen with us, click here.  It is the evening before we go to church to worship God with our local family of believers.  Sundays are unique from every other day . . . a day set aside to focus on God.

It’s not that we don’t worship every day at home. We can worship God while we have our Bible quiet time, while we’re sitting down to a meal, in the shower, sipping tea, kissing boo boos, baking cookies, pulling weeds in the garden, etc.  God isn’t particular about where we worship Him, as long as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.  But, there is something particularly special about worshipping God as a church body.  Together.  And for this special event, we like to prepare.

Here are some ideas that might help you prepare on Saturday to worship on Sunday:

1.  Pray for your pastor and his wife.  A friend on Facebook always posts a nifty reminder like the one pictured below on Saturday evenings, reminding us to pray.  It is great for many reasons to teach our children to pray for their pastor.

2.  Reserve the evening to be at home.  We’ve found if we plan too much on Saturday evenings we are exhausted and not in very good shape for Sunday.  Of course Saturday activities cannot always be avoided, but because of the substantial benefits we make this a priority in our household.

3.  Lay out clothes and begin food preparation.  Is it just me, or does it seem like Satan is working overtime on Sunday mornings?  It is upsetting to the whole family to scurry around hairy-scary at the last minute looking for that missing shoe!  We are trying to get in the habit of laying out our clothes and shoes the night before, along with having breakfast and lunch preparations well on their way.  Have you ever read about the lengths Jews go to to prepare for Sabbath?  It’s phenomenal.  Sunday is the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection on our behalf – it seems like a day worthy of respectful preparations.  I’ve found that Sundays are much more peaceful if I prepare to be undistracted by things that could be taken care of on Saturday.

4.  Listen to worshipful music.  Like the link I shared above, there is nothing besides Scripture and prayer that prepares my heart for worship like worshipful music.  This can also set a wonderful Christ-centered atmosphere on Sunday morning while the family gets ready to go to church.

5.  Read Scripture passage before the sermon tomorrow.  We get our bulletin via email around Thursday or Friday every week, so we know what Pastor will be speaking on the following Sunday.  It helps me if I prayerfully read through the passage before he preaches.  God’s Spirit has more time to work in my heart, making it more likely that I will apply the Word to my life come Monday morning.

6.  Watch a worshipful video/DVD.  My favorite, for Saturday and any day of the week, is In His Presence: A celebration of the peace, love and promises of God in word and song (Moody Video).

7.  Ask God to clear your mind and heart.  Confessing sin and asking God to clear your mind of sinful thoughts or attitudes is essential for worshipping God. This could be likened to preparing soil in your garden for seeds and growth.  Check out this link to read verses that address this very need.

8.  Pray for the persecuted church.  At times I find myself taking my church for granted, or obsessing about inconsequential irritations (there is no perfect church).  One sure cure for this is to remember my sisters and brothers around the world that face persecution and are not allowed to openly attend worship services.  We are so very blessed – let us thank God and cherish the privilege of meeting to worship and grow in God together.

Do you have any other ideas that you use in your family or personal habits that you can share with us?  I would love to hear about them – please leave a comment below!

Praying for you dear sisters as you prepare to worship with your church family tomorrow.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25


Special thanks to Brenda for sharing the pray-for-Pastor picture!

Just God and Me

“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16


On Saturday I listened to an inspiring Christian woman speaking about godly priorities while cleaning my room.  Later that same day, while I was folding underwear and sorting socks, I heard another famous woman interviewed on a highly revered Christian website.  As her voice streamed through my laptop, my hopes for a meaty message quickly faded.  I was left feeling parched.  Yes, she mentioned God, spoke about prayer as well as other true and good things, but never communicated God’s own words.  Most of her words were about her. 

More than any other time in human history, we have countless opportunities to hear and learn from God’s Word: radio, television, internet, books, church, CDs, Sunday school, small groups, conferences, magazines, DVDs, blogs, YouTube, email, Facebook, etc.  Certainly there are messages and interviews worth hearing that point us to God.  It takes some work, but we can wade through fluff and find solid biblical teaching.

My concern, as I get to know myself better and listen to others around me, is that we too easily depend on the testimonies of other humans.  Before realizing it, my own quality time with God slips away.  Unless the words of others springboard me toward further personal study in my Bible, munching from the crumbs of other people’s spiritual meals soon leaves me depleted, hungry. 

“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.'” John 6:35

If I allow this spiritual malnutrition to continue, my starved self turns to my husband and children, friends and pastor, to feed me, to fill me.  I open my refrigerator, go shopping, listen to music.  My emptiness echoes in my soul, and when women come to me for counsel I give them my helpful opinions and good ideas instead of God’s.  At times my family feels the brunt of my ugliness.  I’ve allowed the potential fruit of the Spirit to wilt and rot.  Then finally, after the damage has been done, I end up where I should’ve been in the beginning: on my knees and in His Word.

Do you have a daily quiet time with God alone?  I understand, it can feel nearly impossible at times with the busyness of life.  Do you enjoy listening to Christian radio but sometimes let that take place of your quiet time?  What about church – do you tank up on the sermon and small group lesson, hoping it will carry you through your stressful week? 

Dear sister, we need “just God and me” time.  If it means getting up earlier, staying up later, shutting down the computer, getting away from the house for awhile, turning on a good video for our kids, declining an invitation from a friend, hiring a baby sitter . . . we will only be PEACEFUL and USEFUL when we spend time with God.  Alone.

“His (her!) delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he (she!) meditates day and night.  He (she!) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he (she!) does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3

Stay tuned for ideas to help you develop a quality daily meeting with God.

Special thanks to The Narrow Gate for the picture above.

Good Soil Evangelism Overview

Last weekend I was privileged to take part in a Good Soil Evangelism training seminar. Having grown up in a Christian home, Bible teaching churches, a Christian school, and two Bible colleges, I have heard much about evangelism.  So, I was happily surprised to be challenged in my thinking.  The training I received made me stop and reconsider my audience and how better to communicate with them.

Here are a few points that stood out to me:

1.  Most of us are familiar with the Romans Road.  Where does it usually begin?  Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  What is that presuming?  That my audience understands “sin” and “falling short,” as well as their belief in God’s existance.  Three chapters precede chapter three verse twenty-three, building a foundation to prepare the hearer to learn he is a sinner in need.  So, why do we usually start with Romans 3:23?  It may be perfect for someone with a Bible background, but this is becoming less and less common. 

2.  What about the question, “If you were to die today and stand before God, why should He let you into heaven?”  This presumes people believe in God, heaven and hell.  Again, to the typical adult, confusing.

3.  Sin.  Most people don’t know what it is. We laughingly discussed “sinfully delicious desserts” as sadly the most common use of the word “sin” in our society.  Or they may think of Bible beaters – people who condemn others with prideful self-absorbtion, yelling and pulpit pounding.

4.  They presented a useful overview to help us understand where people are spiritually and where to being helping them in their relationship with God.  Evangelism-Discipleship Scale

5.  We studied John 1 (where I have normally suggested people begin reading their Bible) from the eyes of someone with no knowledge of the Old Testament.  Shocking.

6.  We watched the following video about the Mauk Tribe of Papua New Guinea.  They had never heard of Jesus; they didn’t even know where they were in the world.  A missionary couple, who was discouraged by most because of their age, family size, and health problems, felt called to to PNG to share the truth.  I learned a lot from how they presented the Bible to this people which had no background in God’s Word.  All of us sat their and wept, realizing how blessed we are to know God’s Word!

7.  Also available is a book to help new believers:  The Way To Joy
Both The Story of Hope and The Way To Joy are available in several languages.  This program isn’t just another Evangelism Explosion.  It would be extremely beneficial in any church or small group in teaching Biblical evangelism.  Teacher instruction manuals are downloadable for free on their website.  I highly recommend Good Soil Evangelism. Click here to find out more:  Good Soil Evangelism

International Giveaway 2012

                                 

Imagine moving to a different country and all you have is what is in your suitcase. Incoming students from around the world have little with which to set up a new household. We want to help these students in their time of need and let them know they have friends here in the USA! We count it a privilege to welcome students, not just with our words, but also with our actions.

It is undoubtedly one of my favorite days of the year.  Every August our church invites all new international students to come chose from a variety of household goods and furniture to set up their new American homes.

Since this is our eleventh year reaching out to students in this way, we have learned a lot about organizing and working together.  There was a spirit of calm and joy amongst the workers, which included several church members and many from nearby churches.  At the staff meeting beforehand, our youth pastor set the tone for the day.  He encouraged us to keep our eyes on Jesus and the Gospel.  If we keep our eyes on Him and what He’s done for us, it’s hard to be afraid of or intimidated by people.  By 1:30 the auditorium was packed, 213 students in all, with several students left standing.  There were 23 countries represented:

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Eritrea
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Korea
  • Nepal
  • Philippines
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Sudan
  • Taiwan
  • Togo
  • Venezuela

 

I met people from Sudan, Romania, China, Taiwan, Togo, and Eritrea.  A Romania girl seemed flustered as she waited for her ride home.  When I asked if I could help her, she said she wanted to say thank you to everyone, but she didn’t know how she could do so.  Several students were speechless, never having witnessed something like this before. 

We are not doing this because we are nice people.  God has given so much to us, so we are thrilled to share God’s blessings with others.  It’s all about God working through us, and we pray that He shines through, so they see Him, not us!

For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Students are given the opportunity to sign up for English classes, conversational English partners, Bible studies, and they can request transportation to church services and activities.  Following the Giveaway, our assistant pastor informed us that 142 students requested a conversational English partner.  The Giveaway is just the beginning, and we rely on God to provide time and energy for our church members to develop friendships with all of the students opening their hearts to us. 

It is so exciting to see students who were new to our church a year or two ago now welcoming new students.  One of our Campus Bible Fellowship missionaries now has the privilege to minister to the second generation, children of students she worked with years ago.

One woman took me aside and confided, “I bought a Bible.”  After she described it, with her eyes sparkling, I gave her my name and told her that I would love to be her conversational English partner.  I am so looking forward to getting to know this beautiful young woman, as well as others I met today.

We are extremely blessed by the gifts of God and want to share them with others!  It’s all because of Jesus.

The Quiet House: Ministering with the Father’s Heart to Childless Men and Women

What happens on Mother’s Day at your church? It is typical and fitting to honor the mothers who are present. In some cases moms are asked to stand, given a public blessing and a hearty applause, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication. Usually a flower or some other small gift is given to each mom. How Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are observed reveal much about the heart of a church.

The Aching Heart
One of the most painful experiences is that of women or men who desire to have children but cannot. They may be married or single, be barren, or have experienced the loss of a child (or multiple children) through miscarriage or death. It’s true that some people don’t desire to have children, but that is the exception. Most believers look forward to having little ones around, and when that can’t happen, it hurts.

The Parent Heart

Some busy parents may look at those without children and think they have it easy. Well-meaning men and women can misunderstand and even sin against those who are childless. They can be guilty of looking at them with jealousy or judgment: With jealousy a parent might think, “They have time and money to do the things they want.  They have more time to dedicate themselves to serving God.”  With judgment someone might think, “Why isn’t he married? There must be something wrong with her. Why don’t they have a baby? How strange, how selfish! Exhausted? … They don’t even know the meaning of the word!” If believers are not jealous or judgmental, they can be neglectful. Sad to say, it’s easy to get so busy that we don’t take time to think about the needs of other people.

The Single Heart

One bright Mother’s Day morning, all of the moms were invited to stand in the front of the church. The pastor spoke glowingly of how wonderful they all were and how greatly the future rests upon their shoulders. My single friend Laura felt uncomfortable, since she was about the only woman left back in the pews.  After they were dismissed to their seats, Laura breathed a sigh of relief that the ceremony was over for another year. However, the pastor had forgotten to give the women flowers, so he had some men pass them out right away. My friend was left empty-handed as she looked around at all the smiling mothers.

Laura cried all the way home from church, again asking God to help her be content in her singleness. Unfortunately the pastor had also forgotten to hand out special books, so in the evening service the deliverers were sent out again. A deacon started to hand a book to Laura, and just as she reached out to accept the gift, he quickly pulled his hand back and said, “Oops!” At that moment Laura felt as though she wanted to shrivel up and die.

On holidays honoring parents, some people without children feel uncomfortable, lonely, and even as if they are unimportant or sinful because they haven’t produced children. While they rejoice with their friends who are moms and dads, they can be grievously reminded of their sorrow. Does the church remember these dear sisters and brothers in Christ on these occasions and throughout the year? It is possible to bless everyone present in our churches on days of honor. To do this, believers need to cultivate the heart of the Father.

The Father’s Heart

In seeking to minister to others, believers can become overwhelmed with the variety of people and their needs. Knowing that someone needs encouragement is one thing – knowing how to do it is entirely another.  Believers can increase in wisdom by asking God (James 1:5), and by learning to offer comfort to the fainthearted.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”  I Thessalonians 5:14

Christians may not understand where other people are coming from. Yet with God’s help we can try to put ourselves in their shoes. Believers have no excuse not to do their best to encourage others.

Besides first and foremost praying for them, here are some practical ideas on how church leadership and individuals can minister to people without children:

1. Be friendly.  Don’t talk too much about your kids. If someone in the group is going on and on about their children, smile and start talking about something that they are interested in.

2. Give them opportunities to minister to children.  A precious couple who lost four babies during pregnancy and have no living children are the world’s most loving and dedicated Sunday School teachers.  And what a blessing those children are to them!

3. Include them in family activities. Invite them into your home. Have your children deliver a “just because” card or cookies. Invite them to sit with you in church. Holidays can be the hardest times; if they are not able to be with loved ones, joyfully welcome them to your celebration. You may feel uncomfortable sharing news of your pregnancy with them, but they want to hear it from you. Pray, and God will direct you to the right words and timing. 

4. Remember them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Send a note, e-mail, or card reminding them how special they are and to let them know you are praying for them. In church honor the moms and dads present, but also focus on the valuable roles of being godly men and women. If the church is going to give a gift, buy enough to give to every man or woman present. Being a parent doesn’t make folks more precious or better people. Some of the best “moms” and “dads” in our churches don’t have biological children. But, oh, the spiritual children in which they’ve invested their lives!

5. Respect their privacy. In most cases it is rude to ask them when they are going to get married/have kids/adopt. And never ask them why they can’t have children. If they choose to confide in you, make sure you are a trustworthy confidant. 

6. Be considerate regarding specific events.  Use common sense. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to ask a childless woman to be in charge of a baby shower. It may even be too painful for childless women to attend the shower. This doesn’t mean that they are not happy for the new mother. It may be that they know they can’t handle it emotionally and don’t want to cause a scene.

7. Respect and appreciate them. That they don’t have kids or are unmarried doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from them. Single people and married people without children have so much to offer. Ask them to be your prayer partners or accountability partners. On the other hand, church leadership should not assume that childless people have a lot of extra time and should not take advantage of them, always expecting them to serve.


8. Relax and listen. Don’t worry that you won’t know what to say to them. Be a sympathetic listener and pray for God’s wisdom to know what He would have you to say. 

9. Seek them out. Look for opportunities to serve and fellowship with childless friends. This especially means a lot if it’s a difficult day, like the day their miscarried baby was due or the anniversary of their child’s death.

How can we minister to people in circumstances so different from our own? A remarkable reality is that God can use the lessons we learn from going through a trial to help someone going through an entirely different situation! In 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 4 we read , “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (emphasis added). As we learn about God’s comfort, He gives us the ability to comfort others.

After my husband and I lost a child through miscarriage, some of the greatest encouragement came from our single friends and from those who had never lost a child. One friend, who spoke with such wisdom and love, told me that she had asked God to show her what I needed to hear. Another friend prayed and wept with me. What examples these are of godly compassion. Through His Word and Spirit, God can teach us how to minister to anyone.

In this era of support groups believers need to be careful that we do not exclusively mingle with those of their “type.” God marvelously designed us as Christ’s Body, and He makes it possible and necessary for the “hand” to look after the “foot,” and the “elbow” to care for the “eye” (I Corinthians 12). There is a wealth of wisdom and friendship out there among God’s children. And the value of believers’ ministering to believers in stages of life different from their own is God’s will for His children (Titus 2). God helps believers to think of others on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, every day. And may they prayerfully minister, as a church body and as individuals, with the Father’s heart.


 
(c)2009 Regular Baptist Press. Reproduced by permission.

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