Monday, September 01, 2008

Divorce Care and Recovery group gathered at our house

Last night we invited over to our home anyone who had been through a divorce, either as an adult or as a child, or those who simply had a heart for this ministry. It was the first group that we have had over in our new home, and we had 27 adults come out to this gathering.

Those present briefly told of their interest in the gathering and briefly told their stories. Then we ate. This was followed by a discussion about what the needs were for this group, and what opportunities also existed in reaching out.

The needs of this group include:
  • Social needs - There is a need for those who are divorced to feel like that "they have a place." With so much of church life focused around married people and some of the marginization of this group in the past, this feeling of belonging is important. It was decided that a monthly gathering in a home, with a meal, and a time for people to more extensively tell their stories--basically, the format of the gathering at our house--was the best format for this.
  • Study needs - Several expressed the desire to study marriage, divorce, and remarriage. There are many challenging issues here of course, and this is not an abstract issue--it has a major impact on people's lives. In my own mind on this issue, some things seem clear, while others are less clear. I usually have to take things on a case by case issue. A teacher was identified for this type of class.
  • Recovery needs - For those who have very recently gone through a divorce, working through issues like hurt and anger are especially needed. One ministry tool, DivorceCare, was identified by one of those attending as a good resource. Something like this needs to be offered in the future.

In regards to outreach, the monthly social gathering is a great place that those who have gone through a divorce can invite others to attend. A DivorceCare type of offering is something that can be promoted and advertised to the community. One person told me that it would be good to have this type of ministry offered during the Holidays--a particularly difficult time for those who have experienced divorce, as this traditional time for family gatherings is often a time of pain due to family separation.

Matters of divorce are not easy. Of course, divorce happens for all kinds of reasons, and there are always two people involved. Many times, divorced people are misunderstood as well. For instance, one divorced person I know has told me that she was not looking for someone to say that what she had done was okay--but she wanted to be loved and have someone walk with her. That is what we should do for all of us, no matter what we have gone through. As Philip Yancey says, the church is a hospital. Another person has told me that though his divorce was the result of his wife leaving him, he has not been asked to teach or do anything in worship since that time. This should not happen.

May we reach out to all people, no matter where they are, with love, grace, and truth.