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Ministry to Divorced Families: The Vital Role of Youth Leaders

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All church leaders conduct ministry to divorced families at some point. Many children, teens, and adults in U.S. congregations are impacted by divorce. How well are you ministering to divorced families in your youth program?

“Everyone is ministering to students of divorced families. No one is doing it well.” –Doug Fields

When I heard that quote, it struck a chord. First I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty bold.” Then the very next moment, I wondered, “But what if he’s right?”

What if ministry to divorced families is truly something that everyone’s doing? These days, that may not be all that difficult to imagine. Pause to consider your own youth group. Are some teens from divided homes? Or does everyone have a two-parent family?

I suppose you’re thinking, “Are you kidding me?” The first part of that statement is probably true for every church with a youth group. Every church, no matter how conservative, has a member with a divorce history. If none come to mind initially, with a bit of introspection you may find you’ve been reaching out to one.

With the kids you minister to, I know it’s true. Just go to the school cafeteria to eat lunch with them. Or attend a football game. Visit the local hangout. Teens everywhere are dealing with the difficult reality of divorced parents. Some may not be your “core group.” Or they may be students you see every week.

As a youth worker, no matter where you go, you see young people who are impacted by divorce. Even in your church.

Ministry to Divorced Families

But what about the last part of Fields’ statement? That no one in youth ministry is doing ministry to these students well. Honestly, that stung a little. I take pride in how I minister to my students. Like all youth leaders, I know there’s always room for improvement. But to say I’m doing a poor job? Those are fighting words.

Then I thought… Which students I’ve been ministering to have divorced parents? Quickly, my list went from in my head to on paper. I began to lose count. Four students came to mind very quickly because their parents had divorced within the last two years. Three years ago, another family group was hit.