For many women, Mother’s Day is a celebration of a huge blessing: their role as mom. To show our love and appreciation we celebrate them each year on Mother’s Day. One popular way to celebrate mothers on this day is to honor them during Sunday church service. In fact, Mother’s Day is the third-largest service yearly in attendance.
For others, however, it’s a painful reminder of past trauma like abuse, miscarriage, loss of a child, or infertility. There’s nothing wrong with honoring motherhood in your Sunday service, and you absolutely should. But keep in mind the importance of thoughtfully approaching this holiday, so that mothers feel uplifted while also not causing people additional pain, to ensure the Church continues to be a sanctuary for the broken and the hurting.
In this post, we’ve compiled 11 ways to honor moms with empathy, while also showing compassion for women who aren’t.
Encouraging the mothers at your church
We’ve compiled a list of our best tips that are sure to create a special experience for all at your church on Mother’s Day.
1. Say “thank you”
Some Mother’s Days fall on mornings where a lot of time can’t be given to the holiday. The truth is that we sometimes forget how powerful a simple “thank you” can be. This can be a simple moment in the service when the pastor stands up and thanks mothers and mother figures. Or a couple of people can be selected to read prepared statements of appreciation.
2. Read encouraging parenting verses
Having a couple of people—especially children—come forward and read encouraging Bible verses about parenting can be really powerful.
Some especially mother-friendly verses to read include:
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb a reward.”
(For more suggestions, check out this collection of parenting passages from Disciplr.)
3. Include special music
Having someone sing a special song dedicated to mothers is a great way to honor them. If you really want to tug at the heartstrings, get the church’s children involved!
Some suggestions for appropriate songs include:
- One Heartbeat at a Time, by Steven Curtis Chapman
- Everything to Me, by Mark Schultz
- Midnight Oil, by Phillips, Craig, and Dean
4. Put on a special meal
Why not plan an after-church picnic, potluck, or barbecue? If you can convince the men in the church to plan it, provide the food, and take care of the cleanup, it can be a wonderful way to thank moms for all they do.
(Pro Tip: This only works if the mothers are NOT responsible for pulling this off!)
5. Bring a special gift for moms
Depending on your church size and budget, bring a rose or some chocolate to mothers. Having children or significant others dispense the gifts can be a nice touch.
6. Have mothers share their stories
Giving mothers an opportunity to share their stories about motherhood can be incredibly powerful and encouraging. Inviting mothers who have walked through difficult times in their roles to share what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown can empower the mothers who are present.
7. Close with a motherhood-affirming prayer
Have someone plan on a closing prayer thanking God for the gift of motherhood, and ask him to bless the church’s mothers throughout the year.
Approaching Mother’s Day with a heart of compassion
Here are a few ways your church can approach Mother’s Day with empathy and compassion.
8. Don’t make motherhood the epitome of womanhood
Being a mom is certainly something to celebrate. It’s a powerful opportunity for women to understand and model God’s love in nuanced ways, and it’s a relationship ripe with trials that can lead them to become beautiful reflections of Christ.
But when churches use superlatives like “Motherhood is the greatest calling,” or refer to it as a woman’s greatest opportunity to reflect Christ, it doesn’t just lift up moms. It positions every other aspiration, relationship, and calling as less than—instead of just different.
- To the woman who struggles with infertility, it says, “Regardless of how whole-heartedly you follow Christ, you won’t live to your full potential until you conceive.”
- To the woman who has miscarried or lost a child, it says, “That was your chance. Your opportunity to experience the role God created you for has passed.”
- To the single woman, being surrounded by couples can already make them feel like an outsider. To equate womanhood and motherhood can make them feel that much farther removed from God’s will for them.
Whenever we celebrate individual roles and callings, we need to be sensitive about how we honor them, and what that communicates to people who don’t fit into that role. And remember, even if your church never says things like this, women are bombarded by these kinds of sentiments in our culture, especially in the days leading up to Mother’s Day.
Your church has an opportunity to offer women a more compassionate, empathetic message—one that recognizes that their most important role is as God’s beloved daughters.
Caring for women in your community is a simple and necessary ministry. Plus, it encourages healthy development and church growth over time. Other than loving vulnerable members of our communities well, there are a number of other ways churches can stave off decline and drive sustainable growth. Download the 7 Ways To Beat Church Decline today.
9. Acknowledge the diversity of motherhood
Motherhood takes many forms. If churches aren’t careful, they can exclude some moms by painting a too-narrow picture of motherhood. In your congregation, there are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, and moms who have been estranged from their kids.
If we only talk about some idealized version of motherhood, it can make entire families feel like “They don’t get us.” And when churches do well-intentioned things like saying, “Could we have all the moms in the room stand up?” it asks some women to navigate a complex relationship on the spot: “Do I count? Will my friends and family think it’s weird if I stand up? I am a mom, aren’t I?”
Churches that want to celebrate Mother’s Day can make it a better experience for everyone by acknowledging that motherhood takes many forms.
10. Pray for those who are hurting
We can’t pretend like Mother’s Day is a cheery holiday for everyone. It’s not. If you’ve experienced mom-related trauma like abuse, addiction, mental health issues, abandonment, or death, this is a time when people may feel like they have to secretly grieve something they lost or never had. Church should be a place where even in the midst of joy, we acknowledge and grieve with those who are in pain—instead of being one more place they have to pretend their pain doesn’t exist.
By openly praying for people who struggle with motherhood or have been hurt by this relationship, you can use Mother’s Day to open the door to healing and position your church as a community where restoration happens.
11. Support those who need healing
Miscarriage, infertility, abuse, and even estrangement are all common enough that your church is probably full of people who have experienced them. But since these are incredibly uncomfortable, private situations, people often feel isolated. And if your church never acknowledges them or provides opportunities to help people heal, you’re asking them to face those traumas and bear their pain alone.
It might be worth creating a support group for women. Or starting some sort of mentorship program. What exactly it looks like depends on your congregation and who you have that could facilitate this support.
Whether you have support in place or not, your Mother’s Day service is a good opportunity to bring it up to the congregation, especially if you’re already taking a moment to pray for those who are hurting.
Additionally, you might consider using your church app to send women a survey, asking if they’d be interested in attending or helping to facilitate support groups. You could also use your app to invite women to join the group and connect digitally.
There’s no-one-size-fits-all approach for Mother’s Day services
At the end of the day, the best way to approach honoring Mother’s Day at your church depends on your congregation. As evident in this post, there are many ways you can show appreciation and compassion for women on this holiday that can carry different meanings on a person-by-person basis. Our best and most resounding piece of advice is to consider the various types of situations women and families find themselves in on this day, including those who want to celebrate as well as those who are suffering.