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Single and Parenting Review Interiew

September 21, 2011

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BCC Interview Q & A 

BCC: “Church Initiative has a new video-based, small group program for local churches to minister to single-parent families. The Single & Parenting program features the wise and practical insights of many of BCC’s ministry partners and friends. We talked with Sam Hodges, the program creator and producer, to find out more about Single & Parenting.”

BCC: “Sam, what is Single & Parenting?”

SH:Single & Parenting is an all-new curriculum for churches wanting to minister to single-parent families. Developed by the nonprofit Church Initiative ministry, the creators of DivorceCare and GriefShare, this 13-week program features a DVD- and workbook-driven study that provides biblical insight to the challenges and situations these families face from experts in the field and single parents. Single & Parenting is designed to be lay-led, and highlights a practical, gospel-centered approach to single-parenting issues.”

BCC: “Why did you create Single & Parenting?”

SH: “Increasing numbers of single parents are turning to churches for help. They are often spiritually hungry because of the pressures they face, and many understand they need life answers beyond what the culture provides. They are deeply concerned about making sure their kids mature in Christ, and worry that they can’t do a good job on their own. Single & Parenting provides churches with an effective, easy-to-implement strategy for lay leaders to help single parents.”

BCC: “What is the outreach potential for this program?”

SH:Single & Parenting can assist churches in ministering to single parents within the church, but is also designed to serve as an outreach tool to minister to single parents throughout a church’s community. It is important for church leaders to know that in our society, more than 26% of all children are being raised in single-parent homes. The outreach potential is huge and the need is immediate. The program is designed to welcome single parents in all situations, whether divorced, separated, widowed, or never-married.”

BCC: “Who are some of the experts featured in the series?”

SH:Single & Parenting features some fantastic biblical counselors and teachers who share their expertise with the Single & Parenting participants via 40-minute video seminars. To give you an idea of some of the content covered: Dr. Edward Welch, the author of Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, helps single parents interpret the message behind their emotions. Julie Smith Lowe explains why and how single parents need to truly know their children in order to parent their children’s hearts. Julie is associate faculty at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Steve Viars, who authored Putting Your Past in Its Place, speaks on the importance of dealing with one’s past. Some excellent parenting strategies come from Elyse Fitzpatrick, Dr. Jim Newheiser, and Dr. Laura Hendrickson, who offer practical suggestions on gospel-centered parenting instead of rules-based parenting. They co-authored When Good Kids Make Bad Choices, and Elyse shares ideas from her latest book, Give Them Grace. Single parents will also hear from financial expert Dave Ramsey; Dr. Robert Jones, author of Uprooting Anger; CCEF’s Dr. Michael Emlet; and over 25 other featured experts.”

BCC: “What are some of the key truths you try to help single parents understand?”

SH: Single & Parenting helps single parents understand these central truths: First, God loves our kids more than we do, so it makes sense to do what He counsels about parenting. Second, God loves us more than we can comprehend, despite our flaws and failures as parents. His love for us, as expressed in the gospel, (as opposed to feelings of guilt, fear, worry, etc.) is the best motivation for parenting. A third key point Single & Parenting makes is that there are no guarantees in parenting, nor are there formulas that make kids turn out okay. We do our best, entrusting God with the results. Instead of trying to control external behavior, single parents are encouraged to go after their child’s heart. Finally, and most importantly, the program emphasizes that the gospel is for daily living. The Single & Parenting workbook Bible study helps single parents understand how to apply the gospel to their daily life.”

BCC: “What’s been the response of churches thus far to Single & Parenting?”

SH: “The program was released in the summer of 2011, and churches are already seeing the fruit of their ministry. A lay leader in Spring, Texas, shared that they had 24 single parents come the first night and that this ministry is filling a huge need in their community. He summed it up in one word: ‘Awesome.’ A Meadville, Pennsylvania church is eager to serve the lower-income single parents in their community in particular. And in San Jose, California, a lay leader praised how the program is ‘jam-packed with valuable information.’ She shared how her single-parent participants are particularly enjoying the small group discussion time, gaining support and encouragement from each other.”

BCC: “Where can people find information on starting a Single & Parenting group at their church?”

SH: “The Single & Parenting website has a Start a Group section devoted to church staff and lay leaders with detailed program information and instructions on how to start a group in their church. The site has video clips, sample pages from the materials, testimonies, cost, FAQs, Church Initiative’s mission, and information such as how the program works, reasons to offer Single & Parenting, what’s included in the kit, and more.”

BCC: “Thank you, Sam. We’re excited to see how Single & Parenting will continue to equip single parents with biblical tools and the hope of the gospel for daily living.”