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Six outreach ideas for Mother's Day and Father's Day

Photo by Cottonbro Studio, courtesy of
Photo by Cottonbro Studio, courtesy of

In my previous article I highlighted how though Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are joyful events for many, others are struggling emotionally during this time.

Now that you’ve identified who may need some added care around these holidays, you might be wondering how you reach out to them.

Here are six areas in which your local church can help those who are hurting this season:


Prayerful acknowledgment

During the service, while you may be doing gifts and programming to honor the day, make a point to acknowledge that these days aren't always easy for people and to encourage the congregation to be praying for those who may be struggling.

Prayer is a powerful tool that as believers we are able to tap into no matter the situation. Knowing that others are praying for you can help lift the spirits of those in a time of distress. Consider establishing a seasonal, or year-round, prayer ministry that you utilize for overall prayer needs.

  • Onsite - Have prayer warriors at each service to pray over people experiencing hardships should they accept the offer. Make a point to note where to go after service to make the connection.
  • Remote – Utilize your member list to email, text or call individuals that you have identified as one that may be in need of prayer around these days. This can be a service provided by church staff or volunteers. You can simply note that you recognize that this may be a difficult season for them, and that they’re being prayed for.You could also opt to ask them for any specific prayer concerns.


Counseling services

If you have a counselor on staff at your church, have them available for a complimentary session. Or enlist members who do counseling to serve as day-of volunteers if it's not a service you offer.

If that’s not an option, obtain mental health resources that you can make available to service attendees. Sometimes acknowledging the issue and recognizing that you’re not alone is the first step in someone finding support.


Inclusive children's activities

Caring for children in your congregation is an important responsibility.

Often, churches will innocently have an activity where kids make a gift for their loved ones on these holidays. But for those missing a parent, this can feel like salt in a wound. Consider wording the task's presentation to minimize negative feelings. For instance, instead of making a present for their moms, make it presents for the mother figures in their lives. That simple tweak can serve as a balm for a hurting child.


Parenting resources

A church may regularly offer resources in the lobby or online to support parents, but not for those wishing to build families.

Talk with your local children's services department to arrange for them to host an informational table or provide educational brochures about foster and adoption options. You could also pre-arrange an informational meeting to advertise at the table.

Invite a ministry specializing in adoption fundraisers to staff a booth or supply informational flyers. These resources can encourage those overwhelmed with the potential costs associated with adoption.


Foster parent support 

  • Special events - If budget allows, consider hosting a foster family connection event. It could be a family activity night hosted at the church, such as one of the church's ministries providing a spaghetti dinner with board games and cornhole. You may opt for a more elaborate event at a local bowling alley or activity center. Regardless of the activity, it is a way to love on foster families, connect people in similar walks of life while helping them to feel seen. 


  • Meaningful cards and letters - Recruit volunteers to write personalized notes to active and inactive foster parents to thank them for their service. It's the perfect opportunity to remind them that though they may not see the fruits of their labor, God can and will use their planted seeds. Acknowledge that whether or not a holiday card from a child is forthcoming, they have shared a legacy of faith that will make an impact. Thank them for their faithful service and following of God's calling, as they have successfully served these children as the hands and feet of Christ. 

This is also the perfect time to start planning ahead for how you might assist foster families leading up to Christmas.


Prison ministry

If your church is associated with a prison ministry, inquire with facility contacts on how you might best offer prayer support to inmates that are parents.

For any church members who have loved ones in prison, consider hosting a special prayer session where they’re invited to join with others in this unique walk of life.

Brenda Smotherman is the Associate Public Relations Director at United Methodist Communications. She speaks from personal experience for this article as she recently lost her mom and previously served as a resource parent for the State of Tennessee Department of Children Services.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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