By Aaron Earls
There is a legitimate discussion to be had over how to best honor moms on Mother’s Day without ostracizing other women in the congregation.
In Romans 12:15, Paul tells the church to “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” So how can a congregation rejoice with moms and those who are gathered with their mom, while also weeping with those who have a different situation?
Specifically asking moms to stand during the service can be insensitive to the pain many feel, but many visitors show up on Mother’s Day and want to see their mom recognized in some way.
A 2013 LifeWay Research survey of Protestant pastors found Mother’s Day was the third highest attendance Sunday, behind only Easter and Christmas. Almost 6 in 10 pastors (59 percent) said it was one of their best-attended services.
Pastors and church leaders face an unenviable task of trying to balance all of these emotions and motivations connected to Mother’s Day, but here are some ideas that may help your congregation serve well everyone in attendance that day.
1. Pray for different situations. Many non-mothers simply want to feel as if they belong. Recognizing that not every woman is a mom can go a long way in making them feel welcome.
Have a church leader pray for all the moms in the congregation or connected to the church, but also have them pray for those who are struggling with infertility or who have a poor relationship with their mom.
2. Select women to give testimonies. Have a young mom share what being a mother has taught her. Give another woman the chance to praise the godliness of her mother. Ask a single woman to thank a spiritual mentor in the congregation.
As they share, they are recognizing the sacrifices mothers make, while also being cognizant of the contributions made by non-mothers in the church.
3. Give an opportunity to stand. Instead of having only moms stand, invite all women to stand and commission them to serve God well in the roles He has given them, which may be a physical mom to children or a spiritual mom to someone younger in the faith.
Perhaps you could ask everyone in the congregation to stand and then have a pastor pray for the moms of all those standing. Even if their mother has passed away, thank God for the positive relationships and ask Him to heal any lingering hurt from bad situations.
4. Mail a postcard the week before. This could serve two functions. Send a postcard to moms in your church before Mother’s Day to recognize them and invite them to the worship service.
Tell them to bring the postcard and turn it in for a free gift after the service.
5. Offer a gift later. Instead of giving out gifts to moms during the service, tell them you have a free gift for them at the end of the worship service. (If you use postcards, don’t enforce it as a rule. Be generous and give the gift to anyone who stops by.)
You could even encourage people to stop by and pick up the gift to give to their mom if she isn’t there or to give to a mom in their neighborhood.
6. Set up a family photo booth. Moms often get their families to dress up on Mother’s Day and would love a photo of everyone. Ask someone in your church who is handy with a camera to take photos of all the families who come by.
Keep it open to friends or any group that would like to take a photo together.
You can offer to print the photos out and mail them later. This also provides an excellent way to get contact information for visitors.
7. Get kids involved. In your small groups for kids and students, talk to them about ways they could honor their mom (biological, adopted, foster, etc.). Maybe have them make a significant craft or memento. Try to do more than something that would just add more clutter to an already frazzled preschool mom’s life.
During the worship service, talk to adults and older children about ways they can honor their mom on this day and all through the year.
8. Give a donation to a local charity in honor of moms. As a way to thank mothers and make an impact on your community, pledge a gift to a women’s shelter or a crisis pregnancy center in honor of the moms in your church.
Instead of spending money to buy moms flowers that will wilt in a day or so, use the money to make a lasting contribution to the welfare of other women and moms who live near the church.