Seven Reasons Why Your Church Should Have a Ministry to Widows

February 17, 2016
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This verse in Scripture cannot be more compelling or clearer:

“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

Scholars have produced massive volumes on the biblical mandate to care for orphans and widows. The Bible is not ambiguous on this topic. I am grateful churches around the world have taken some steps to care for the orphans, though much more remains to be done.

But, in North American churches, I see hardly any intentional church wide ministries to widows. Millions are left to suffer and struggle in silence.

Though the biblical mandate to care for widows should be sufficient motive for our churches, consider some of the struggles widows experience. These seven factoids should give you at least a glimpse of the need for ministries to widows in your church.

  1. The death of a spouse is the number one stressor in a person’s life. Too many survivors are not ready to deal with the issues of widowhood (Holmes and Rohe stress scale).
  2. Over 800,000 persons are widowed each year. Of that number, 700,000 are women (U. S. Bureau of the Census).
  3. Widowhood lasts on the average 14 years. That is a significant portion of any person’s life (U. S. Bureau of the Census).
  4. There are over 14 million widows in the United States today. That is an average of 40 widows for every church in the United States (AARP).
  5. Upon the death of a spouse, a widow loses 75% of her support base. It is imperative for churches to stand in the gap (Widow’s Hope).
  6. Widows have a 30% higher risk of death in the first six months after the death of their husbands. They truly die of a broken heart (University of Glasgow).
  7. The poverty rate among widows is three to four times higher than elderly married women. Financial needs among widows are often great (Social Security Administration).

Please don’t walk away from reading this short post without considering some type of action in your church to care for widows.

It is one of the clearest mandates of Scripture.

It is also one of the most neglected mandates of Scripture.

Let me hear from you.

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86 Comments

  • Ruby Cormier says on

    Widows Ministry

  • Aaron McBrayer says on

    During my research into ministry ideas for widows I came upon this page and would be very appreciative of any information or guidance that could be given me. Thank you very much.

  • Becky Hamilton says on

    How does one go about establishing a ministry to widows and what does hat entail? I am ever challenged in this area but it seems I can’t find details of what it’s supposed to look like
    Thx

  • Tina Edwards says on

    I am a 45 year old widow and my children are in their early 20’s and I have no help financially. I am unemployed and struggling and think that their needs to be some kind of help for widows in their 30, 40, and 50’s without an income who were housewives raising their children when their spouse’s were alive. Cause society now don’t realize there are widows out there struggling and need help in other ways and don’t have the money to do it without help of others. So please give a widow a chance to start over with a job or financially.

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  • My father was widowed shortly before his 77th birthday, when when our mom died unexpectedly, a death that he might have been able to prevent. My siblings and I now believe he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s at that time. They retired in New Mexico from southern Wisconsin, far away from two of their four children and eight of their ten grandchildren, and even further away from the rest of their children/grandchildren.

    In retirement, my parents were joined at the hip. After our mom died, my dad was initially a near-recluse except for church attendance. He turned down invitations for lunch and dinner from parishioners, neighbors, and friends. To make a long story short, he eventually looked like a homeless man: cracked glasses, filthy clothes, incontinent, wouldn’t wear his hearing aid. People in church avoided him. My dad turned down a lunch invitation with the minister, but agreed to have him visit his home. It was filthy, junk-strewn, spoiled food in the frig, etc.

    It took us forever to get his doctor to realize something was wrong with him and even a greater heroic effort on her part to get him to a neurologist, who diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s. More still to do the paperwork to get his driver’s license revoked.

    It took us a stealth effort and the assistance of a caring woman from his church to get him ready to fly one-way from El Paso to Chicago so my brother could pick him up and get him settled in assisted living, almost two years after our mom’s death. This woman got him cleaned up, took him to the optometrist, bought him new clothes, picked up prescriptions, packed his bags, drove him to the airport, and made sure that he would be safely escorted to his seat. She had a business doing this, but she did this for us gratis. God bless her.

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