“She had an abortion appointment the next day. She’d already been to the pro-life pregnancy center, and I had no idea what to say.”
My friend sighed as she told the story. The new Dobbs decision, combined with this recent encounter with a struggling single mother, motivated us to start searching for programs—and if nothing existed, to start one ourselves.
In this new post-Roe world, many Christians and churches desire to support the women who carry their babies to term. The issue isn’t whether caring communities will go about this important work, but rather how they’ll do it.
Here are 10 ways your church can foster relationships with women in need and build a culture of life.
1. Call your local pro-life pregnancy center.
Ask what their present needs are and how you can help. Be open to things you could do outside of Sunday morning. Could you donate 10 hours a month of your bookkeeper’s time? Host a baby shower in your space? Ask a church member to help them with a specialized skill like social media marketing or outcomes measurement? Commit to organizing a meal train when babies are born?
2. Make church baby-friendly.
Especially if children are welcome during the main service in your church, mothers might be keenly aware of every peep their little ones make during the service. Put new parents at ease by making it clear that their babies and toddlers are a part of Christ’s body. Create a space for nursing mothers, make sure you have changing stations in the bathrooms, and laminate pew cards explaining that children are welcome!
3. Open a maternity library or host a clothing swap event.
Any woman who has been pregnant knows that ill-fitting clothes can have a real effect on her sense of dignity. Maternity clothing is expensive and hard to thrift, so your church can help by gathering gently used maternity wear and either hosting a one-day event or devoting a section of your building to a maternity library, where women can “check out” clothes for a few dollars. Be sure to make the experience relational and welcoming by having coffee or lemonade on hand and inviting the mothers to sit and chat.
4. Create accessible ways for single moms to serve.
Women who have overcome heartbreaking challenges and chosen life have so much to give! Welcome them into volunteer opportunities by providing childcare during VBS or one-day service events. Most importantly, let them know that your church family values and needs them by getting to know each individual’s unique gifts and then asking for help in those areas.
5. Offer childcare or a co-op.
The issue isn’t whether caring communities will go about this important work, but rather how they’ll do it.
Do your church’s Sunday school rooms sit empty during the week? Put them to use! Many single mothers struggle to afford daycare, and churches can step into the gap by offering childcare at a discount. For mothers struggling financially, you could even offer a co-op alternative, where moms become trained classroom aides and help out with the kids one day a week in exchange for free tuition.
6. Start an Embrace Grace support group.
Women who are overwhelmed by a recent positive pregnancy test don’t just need diapers; they need a family. Embrace Grace is an international organization that trains churches at no cost to launch support groups for pregnant women and single moms and dads. If you aren’t ready to start a group, consider downloading their pro-love social media toolkit or hosting a “love box” party—assembling boxes that can be given to moms at a local pregnancy center.
7. Support alternatives to foster care.
Your church can walk with families at risk of entering the foster care system by partnering with outstanding groups like Better Together or Safe Families. These organizations offer help to parents in need by offering job coaches, parent mentors, temporary host families for their children, and more.
8. Host a finances or jobs class.
Many single parents feel stuck working long hours away from their children at low-paying jobs. By providing a meal, free childcare, and a soft skills class, you can make a huge difference in the lives of struggling parents. The best part? Your church doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel—Faith and Finances and Jobs for Life are excellent examples of faith-based, relationship-oriented programs with a proven track record of success.
9. Facilitate mentorship.
Welcome young mothers into your community by creating the space for deep relationships. Consider establishing a mothers’ mentoring initiative, creating an adopt-a-grandparent program for single parents, or adding a mentoring component to an existing premarital counseling, baptism, or benevolence ministry. Check out True Charity Initiative’s Mentoring Model Action Plan for tools and guidance.
10. Fill in the fatherhood gaps.
Children growing up without a father are more likely to fall into poverty and substance abuse and to continue the cycle of broken families. Fathers in your church can come alongside single mothers by providing positive male role models for their kids. Programs like Fathers in the Field help your church facilitate these relationships.
Whether your community is big or small, high church or low, urban or rural, you can reach out to women and children in need. Grab a friend and introduce one of these ideas to your pastor—we did, and our church now hosts a “New Mom Community Night” every Thursday.
Praise God, the woman we were praying for didn’t go through with her abortion. And praise God, now we have a community into which we can welcome her.