By Seana Scott
Loved ones spend billions of dollars on Mother’s Day bouquets, but as sweet as roses smell—mothers themselves are withering. According to a 2021 Motherly survey, 93% of mothers feel burned out, at least occasionally. How can our churches cultivate mothers’ flourishing beyond handing out carnations once a year? Here are ten ways churches can invest in moms all year long.
1. Disciple moms
In the broken moments of motherhood—hiding in the bathroom, curled on the floor—a mother needs an abiding relationship with Jesus more than an Instagram platitude. So, the most important thing we can do to invest in moms all year—is to disciple them. Here are a few considerations:
- Is there childcare available while moms participate in discipleship opportunities?
- Are there discipleship opportunities before or after work for working moms?
- What is the ministry strategy to equip moms (and all women) to study God’s Word? Pray? Understand doctrinal truth? Learn spiritual practices?
- If a mom in your ministry attends all your discipleship offerings for the next five years, what kind of disciple will she be?
2. Gift moms time
Sometimes motherhood feels like a time loop of sleep, wake, work, homework, dinner, bedtime—repeat. Raising the next generation is a gift from the Lord, but so is rest. Churches can invest in moms all year long by providing occasional times of reprieve.
- Host a parents night out. Set up some fun activities for the kids in your church and let moms take a break to do something that refreshes them for a few hours.
- Provide child-care for all your programming where moms with school-aged children are invited to attend (both during the day and after work). Nothing shows exclusion like moms not able to attend a church-wide prayer meeting because they have to juggle their preschooler and second grader.
3. Care for moms with young children
According to the United States Department of Labor April 2022 news release, mothers with children under the age of 6 are about 10% less likely to participate in the labor force compared to mothers of school-aged children. This 5-year timeframe is the perfect opportunity for churches to minister to women in this unique stage of life. Here are two ideas:
- Host Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) groups or a similar program for moms with young children in the home. Consider hosting the program in the morning and evening to include working moms (and provide childcare both times).
- Facilitate community. Mothering young kids can feel isolating. Creating a playdate calendar for the moms in your church is a simple (and free) way to support their need for fellowship and their child(ren)’s need for friends. This can be as simple as a calendar of local park playgrounds to hang out at on certain days, free community events moms with young kids can attend (libraries, music in the park, and street markets are perfect places to start), or even a list of free days at local museums. Make sure to include some weekend and after-work outings for working moms. Maybe ask a mom in your church to serve as a host to connect with any moms who show up.
4. Support transitions
Motherhood includes stressful transitions like sleepless nights with an infant, family bonding with an adoptive child, or launching a young adult out into the world. Each transition provides an opportunity for the body of Christ to minister well. Here are a few ideas for your church to invest in moms during seasons of transition:
- Provide meals, babysitting, or housework to moms transitioning with a newborn or foster/adoptive child.
- Offer workshops for helping parents (and grandparents) navigate the transition into loving their young adult children.
- Create mentorship opportunities, partnering seasoned mothers to walk alongside mothers going through new transitions.
5. Equip moms with parenting tools
Parenting is daily, on-the-job training. What practical wisdom can you offer parents to help them navigate everything from toddler-tantrums to apologetics? Equip moms (and other caregivers) with tools to parent proactively. Some workshop ideas might include:
- Navigating the use of technology
- Developmental stages of youth (and their needs in each stage)
- Answering your child’s big questions about God and the universe
- Helping your teen establish healthy habits for young adulthood
- Practical ideas for discipling kids in the natural flow of life
6. Support young families during worship
Sometimes a nursing mom needs to keep to her baby’s schedule during worship—or a preschooler cries for mom and needs to be picked up from the children’s ministry. How can our churches invest in moms so they can participate in in-person worship all year long?
- Create a mother’s nursing room. A private room with rocking chairs, diaper changing station, and a video broadcast of the service—some churches even design rooms in the back of the sanctuary with a one-way window to literally feel like a part of the service.
- Provide a family room. Offer a place where both men and women can care for children while still hearing and observing the service (bonus if this area includes coloring and toys to keep kids focused).
- Give busy bags to young children attending service so parents can participate and kids can enjoy going to church.
7. Include the marginalized
Families with children with special needs often struggle to belong to a local body of believers.
“We’re called to make disciples and there are no exceptions,” said Shannon Pugh, Special Needs Director at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. “Mothers of children with behavioral or physical disabilities will often miss out on religious services if places of belonging are not prepared for their kids at church.”“Mothers of children with behavioral or physical disabilities will often miss out on religious services if places of belonging are not prepared for their kids at church.” — Shannon Pugh Click To Tweet
In fact, a 2018 study found children on the autism spectrum and children with depression or a developmental delay or learning disability are less likely to ever attend religious services than children without these conditions. But how can churches start supporting moms (and other caregivers) all year? Here are a few ideas to start.
- Enlist additional teachers to aid in classrooms. Pugh calls them “inclusion buddies.”
- Create sensory-friendly spaces. Often children with autism or other processing disorders feel most at home in sensory-friendly environments.
- Provide respite nights for caregivers and include siblings of kids with special needs so moms or other caregivers truly get some time off.
8. Speak well of motherhood
Expressions of motherhood are as diverse as mothers themselves. Whether moms are raising biological or adoptive children, working outside the home or homeschooling, God leads women in creative ways as they raise the next generation. Ministry leaders can support moms by speaking well of the diverse realities of motherhood. The stories we share form the values of our communities.Ministry leaders can support moms by speaking well of the diverse realities of motherhood. The stories we share form the values of our communities. — @Seana_S_Scott Click To Tweet
Here are a few ideas to consider in your sermon illustrations and ministry communications as you seek to invest in moms:
- When you talk about motherhood, remember most mothers work in income-producing jobs. According to the Census Bureau, about two-thirds of mothers with school-aged children were in the paid working force in January 2021. “When you talk about motherhood, assume some moms work. That assumption will work its way through examples in the sermon, language used to announce women’s ministry events, and the language around parenthood,” said Kat Armstrong, co-founder of the Polished Network, a ministry for working women navigating faith.
- Include testimonies, illustrations, and quotes from a variety of godly female leaders and mothers who represent diverse parenting experiences.
- Offer curriculum in your ministry that includes godly female voices from a wide berth of parenting, vocation, and ethnic backgrounds. We can be doctrinally sound and include diversity.
9. Support working families
CNBC reported single parents spend about 34% of their income to secure childcare so they can work to support their families. It also reported parents spend an average of $8,355 on childcare per year. What are the demographics in your church’s neighborhood? How can your church support and minister to local families balancing childcare and income-generating work? Here are three ideas:
- Repurpose part of your church building as a community play and work center. “In today’s working world, moms are doing it all from home, so we provide a welcoming environment for moms to bring their children to play, be engaged for lunch and playtime—and open their laptops to get work done,” said Jana Morrison, director of The Well Community Center in Brownsburg, Indiana. They offer free wi-fi, working stations, and a variety of playing opportunities for young children.
- Host a free or low-cost Vacation Bible School during the summer to minister to kids in your church and neighborhood, while lessening the financial burden on families to provide quality care during summer months.
- Develop a preschool for your community with a sliding tuition scale. Offer an all-day option five days a week for working parents and single mothers.
10. Support homeschooling families
The COVID pandemic caused a lot of families to reimagine their children’s education. According to ABC News, the number of homeschool students increased by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell by only 17% in the 2021-2022 school year.
Katie Bowman, a work-from-home mom in Dallas, Texas, decided to homeschool her children long-term after initial, distanced learning. “Trying to do everything the teachers wanted us to do at home was a nightmare,” Bowman said. “We started homeschooling, and we absolutely love it. We can learn and explore the world together, and I am redeeming my own education, learning things I never learned.”
Here are a few ways ministries can support homeschooling families:
- Offer church space for homeschooling groups to meet mid-week for enrichment classes or fellowship.
- Create a resource library for homeschooling families to access books or curriculum.
- Does your ministry have a seasoned homeschooling family? Offer newer homeschool families a workshop to help them navigate the learning curve of how to set homeschool goals, organize the school year, and hear about local opportunities for homeschool families.
Mothers can thrive when we cultivate their flourishing. What are the needs of the mothers in your community? What is one new way your ministry will invest in moms all year long?
Seana writes and speaks to equip and inspire others in their relationship with God. She produces and hosts the Well Soul Podcast, a weekly devotional podcast with Scripture, reflection, and prayer. Her writing has been featured at Christianity Today, Fathom Mag, (in)Courage, and Lifeway Research. You can connect with her on Instagram @wellsoulpodcast.