My applause to you for wanting to reach out! One of the most frequently asked questions coming in my email is “How can I start a widows ministry?” While most of you asking the question are widows, several are not and just care about us!
I am going to offer suggestions from four viewpoints:
• A widow who wants to start a group with church support
• A widow who wants to start a group on her own or with another organization
• A person who cares about us and wants to start a group with church support
• A person who cares about us and wants to start on her own or with another organization
In each category, the following are common and vital:
Prayer is a vital and first step.
Assess what the needs are of those you want to serve. A survey form is available on this website.
Expect to persevere through surprises, challenges, and opportunities.
Revel in the blessings of obediently serving those close to God’s heart.
A widow who wants to start a group with church support
Make an appointment with a church leader, pastor, elder, or deacon. Simply tell them of your interest in starting a group. Depending on the needs of your church, it may be a Bible study, prayer and share time, social outing, or lunch-bunch. Needs are different and it is important that you find what your widows need. Remember that few, if any, widows are on church leadership teams and they may have ‘ideas’ that simply do not serve or comfort widows. Gently share your experience and help them see how the church can support you in providing for this group.
Our meeting format is a two hour Saturday morning format of greeting, 45-50 minutes studying the Bible, followed by breaking into groups of 5 or so, around tables to share, pray, and/or discuss our Bible study topic. Your group may prefer evenings, or have a Sunday School time to meet.
Churches usually are eager to include activities in their bulletins, provide coffee, and mail announcements as needed.
Groups may chose study materials or create their own. Griefshare is a popular resource providing videos and workbooks. Others may be social events or prayer. Our group has gone to tea houses and museums, and had game nights. The important thing is not to be overwhelmed by what you might do. Simply start doing what you can do.
A widow who wants to start a group on her own or with another organization
There are often good reasons to meet in a home, library, or community facility. This may be a better environment to bring friends, or create a group from widows of different faiths and church affiliations. As the leader, you may still state that the underlying orientation will be Christian in nature though any person is welcome. While it may take more effort to create and distribute flyers, local papers may publicize your meetings. Again, determining the needs of the group is key. You will probably be approached by those who want to be ‘guest speakers.’ Be aware that some may see that as a potential market to sell products, financial, travel, and others. It is wise to have your purpose well outlined to keep the meetings focused on ministry to widows.
A person who cares about us and wants to start a group with church support
While a widow has empathy for other widows like no other, there simply may be no such person to lead such a ministry. If you have a heart to serve, you can be incredibly helpful and have a thriving group. I have a single friend who began a group consisting mostly of widows and widowers. They love her! The group satisfies their need for connection. The material they study is secondary and any topic is fine with them. As we suggested above for a widow starting the group, begin by making an appointment with a church leader. Assess the needs in your church and begin. I offer our format as an example above, but again, provide what your group needs.
A person who cares about us and wants to start on her own or with another organization
While this is a more challenging scenario, I do know of some successful ministries to widows that are neither widow lead nor church based. If you have a passion to help widows, you will persist through each challenge. My main additional advice beyond all in the above scenarios is to be clear on what you are motivated to provide, and ‘stick to the knitting’ as the old business adage goes. Providing a support group, home repairs, housing, encouragement, the opportunities are endless.
As you move forward with forming and growing in your ministry, let us help you. Use the resources on Widowconnection.com. Information under ‘Church Resources’ provides a model and information your pastors and leaders may read. There are sample surveys and sample referral forms to download and use. Use our topics under ‘Moving Forward’ for study and discussion. Blessings as you begin this important group!