Bless you for your heart to consider starting a widow’s ministry in your church! Your desire and a biblical foundation are all you need. We can help. Why start such a ministry?
1. Caring for widows is a biblical mandate. James 1: 27
2. God instructs that our needs be met.
3. Widows can be a powerful army of generosity and prayer in your church.
4. God blesses those who honor and serve widows.
5. God warns against those who do not protect and care for widows.
6. Ministering to widows demonstrates God’s heart for the voiceless and powerless.
7. Your church embracing widows will stand out as a beacon in your community because widows in all cultures, including ours, are marginalized.
While there are 103 verses in Scripture regarding us, the following address the 7 reasons above. (all from NIV)
1. Caring for widows is a biblical mandate. James 1: 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
2. God instructs that our needs be met. Deuteronomy 24:17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.
He instructs provision through the church’s tithes if necessary. Deuteronomy 14:29. so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 26;12. When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. Acts 6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
He instructs that in our vulnerability we be given our legal rights. Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Luke 18:6. And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
3. Widows can be a powerful army of generosity and prayer in your church.
He commends us for our sacrificial giving using the example of the widow who gave two mites. Mark 12:42-43. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
The prophetess Anna devoted her life to fasting and prayer. Luke 2:36-38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
While many widows enter poverty upon the death of their husbands, some do not. Widows in the United States will inherit 70% of the $14 trillion inter- generational wealth transfer expected over the next 40 years and today control 48 percent of estates worth more than $5 million. Widows direct much charitable giving.
4. God blesses those who honor and serve widows. Deuteronomy 24: 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 14:29
so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Job 29 : 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing.
5. God warns against those who do not protect widows. Ex 22: 21-24 Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, Deuteronomy 27:19 “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.
6. Ministering to widows demonstrates God’s heart for the voiceless and powerless. Deuteronomy 10:18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. Psalm 146:7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,
7 Widows in all cultures, including ours are marginalized. Your church will stand out as a beacon to your community for embracing widows. Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Where to begin? That first big question. Let us help you. Following are our suggested steps. (The following are excerpts from From One Widow To Another: Conversations About the New You used by permission from Moody Press.) We also offer DVD’s and Journals and other Bible study tools at widowconnection.com.
How to start a widow’s ministry in your church.
How can churches respond to the widow today? The problem is complex for several reasons. First, churches today are varied ranging from small struggling bodies with limited resources both in staff and financing to mega-churches whose staffs are lean and depend on volunteers to minister to most needs other than teaching. Second, the experiences and needs of widows vary widely and there is no ‘one model fits all’ to be created. Please visit our website, widowconnection.com for more in depth help and free downloadable surveys and referral lists. Recognizing that the following recommendations must be adapted to the individual church, here are some suggestions.
1. Form a leadership group including at least one widow.
Scripture is clear that there should be appointed leaders in the body to oversee the care of widows. (Acts 6: 1-7) The ministry arm might well be done through deacons and deaconesses following the model of I Timothy 3: 8-13. I would personally add (clearly this is my personal addition) that all leadership groups related to widow’s ministry have a leading member who is a widow. Ministry leaders are typically married men who understandably cannot fathom our circumstance. It has been my experience that lacking this leading widow, churches decisions of how to serve us often miss the mark of meeting the real needs of widows.
2. Survey widows needs.
Once the leadership team has been established, determine who are the widows, and then follow up with a survey to discover their needs. Use ours if you’d like. While financial needs and help with upkeep of living space are common, need for connection is typical. Remember the 75% loss factor? Most connections with the church are broken upon becoming a widow. This time period is the widow’s most painful, lonely and vulnerable part of her journey, a time when she needs believing friends near her. One half of women widowed leave the church the attended with their husband’s within that first year.
3. Address the needs as expressed in the survey.
Some churches have sources of help in place. Do not assume that a new widow is aware of your household helper team, cars ministry, or any other resource you offer. We prepared a referral list which you may download. Vet each thoroughly. These are typical needs of widows in our area. Ideally contact will be made with new widows to inform them of your resources.
4. Provide a specific connection for widows to the church.
In our Widow to Widow ministry we study Scripture together, share our journey, and do fun things together as well. If your church has few widows, you might partner with other churches and provide a seminar day. Widow Connection is available to consult with you as you plan.
On my journey as a widow, I have learned that we all change. And much of that change is good. We become faith filled because we can not face the day any other way. We become strong because we have no other choice. We are compassionate because our heart has been broken. As I listen to other widows stories I am awestruck at what they have learned and accomplished.
Yes, we have changed. As your church reaches out to us you’ll discover that we believe Romans 8:28 with a new tenacity. We have new and relevant gifts to offer not in spite of, but rather because of our loss. We are bold because we have already faced death in a part of ourselves. We laugh at things many people fear and count blessings among the mundane events of an ordinary day. As you embrace us you reflect the heart of God.