Fatherlessness has reached epidemic levels. Forty percent of children in the U.S. will go to bed tonight in a home without a father. Studies show that people without fathers are at much higher risk for low educational performance, drug abuse, crime and poverty. Fatherlessness is rampant in our churches as well. When planting his church, Mark Strong realized that fifteen of twenty core leaders, whether they were in their twenties or sixties, white or black, had grown up without an active father figure in their lives. And he determined to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. The church is uniquely positioned to minister to the fatherless, both within its own community and in society at large. Strong shows how we can make our churches places of refuge for our nation's fatherless. Churches can reveal a true picture of God as loving Father through mentoring both children and dads, meeting the practical needs of children, and much more. By embedding key values into your congregational culture, your church can become a church for the fatherless. Be part of the solution. Are you ready to make a difference?
Part One: Understanding the Problem
1. Father Where Are You?
2. The Impact of Fatherlessness
Part Two: How We Can Help the Fatherless
3. Embedding a Corporate Value
4. Getting the Message Out
5. Equipping Men to Be Fathers
6. Mentoring the Fatherless
7. Praying for the Children
8. God Their Father
9. The Healing Path
10. How Do I Get Started?
Epilogue: A New Story
"Fatherlessness is not a deadly disease, but is a nagging cough that won't go away. If you want to train your church to reach, mentor and empower the fatherless teens in your youth ministry, this book is for you."
"Mark E. Strong boldly identifies the crisis of fatherlessness and provides practical actions the church can take to equip, mentor and respond to the needs of children without a father's presence in their life."
"Dr. Mark Strong is a man of faith who is also firmly rooted in the real world. That makes him the perfect messenger. This book gets to the heart of an issue that remains one of the most challenging in our society. Dr. Strong's book is uplifting and filled with hope. But it also fosters a conversation that needs to take place. To read his words is to have Dr. Strong sitting next to you and engaging you in a thoughtful discussion. That is a gift and a pleasure."
"Mark Strong is a true father and pastor. Over the years that I have known him, I have always admired his unique mix of strength and gentleness. The passion to protect and restore hurting people that is so evident is his ministry shines clearly through this book. I believe his call to the church to become fathers to the fatherless is as timely as it is powerful."
"More and more pastors deal with the reality of fatherlessness in our community. Mark Strong's timely work presents honest and real insight that challenges the church to live into our calling to foster fatherhood to the fatherless. Strong offers practical and helpful ministry solutions for the important work of healing and redemption."
"What I found most compelling was Pastor Strong's use of story. He invites you into the lives of real people and provides insight into how we can practically invest our lives in helping the fatherless--one child at a time. His book is hopeful, always resting on the work of the Holy Spirit empowering his people to be agents of love in this world."
"Fatherlessness has become an epidemic in America. The church needs to wake up to this crisis. In Church for the Fatherless, pastor-evangelist Mark Strong provides a how-to manual to help mobilize churches to stop the epidemic and mentor those devastated by this critical issue. . . . Mark shows how the faith-based community, working together, can provide hope to the fatherless."
"Pastor Strong lives and breathes in the trenches--among those in need, the least, the last, the lost. He does not write in abstracts or untested ideas. In an age of massive hype, Pastor Strong's life matches his message, which makes him, in a word: extraordinary."
"If you are concerned about the fatherless culture in our communities and churches, you must read this book. This . . . is for those like me whose father was often gone and who suffered his absence, as well as my children who suffered the disconnectedness of their father after divorce--the broken hearts in our pews. We are everywhere. Mark Strong analyzes the need but gets very practical in his help for those whose lives are wounded by fatherlessness. This is a great book--I don't know of another like it. It will make a difference in your ministry."
"The holistic gospel message calls the church to care for making people and communities whole in the power of the Spirit. In a society where fatherlessness is rampant, the church must bear the good news by fathering those without dads. Pastor Mark Strong is not simply noting the pressing problem of fatherlessness--he's providing solutions. In our post-civil rights generation, I am greatly encouraged to find leaders like him spending themselves for the rights and needs of a generation without fathers. May this book inspire you and your church to join him in the struggle."
"Pastor Mark Strong practices what he preaches and teaches on fathering the fatherless. He and his church are serving as a catalytic force as they partner with others to address the growing crisis of fatherlessness in our city of Portland with love, mercy and faithfulness. You will be more strategically prepared to care for the orphans in distress in your own community as you take to heart the prophetic and practical wisdom of this critically important volume."
"Dr. Mark Strong saw a crushing need in his community and then spent the past two-and-a-half decades of his life filling it. . . . It is impossible to gauge the magnitude of this book?s potential impact! It has been years in the making, and what it offers the church is a way to influence countless generations in the years to come."
"I believe that children have a hole in their soul in the shape of their dad. God whispers into the wombs of their mothers that there will be a special man who will love them like no other. But, when a father is unable or unwilling to fill this hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed. Alas, there are many wounded souls in our churches today. Fortunately, Mark Strong's book powerfully raises much-needed awareness to the plight of the fatherless. No doubt, it will help many get the healing that they so desperately need."
"With compelling energy, Mark Strong identifies father absence as a cultural crisis that is exacting a heavy toll on the lives of the fatherless. His book Church for the Fatherless prompts the reader to action. . . . Pastor Mark believes the church has a pivotal role by providing a haven of safety and support for the vulnerable. . . . I am personally inspired by his vision and passion to make a difference. Pastor Mark also understands the African American community. His experience and empathy has prompted him to be bold by suggesting a ministry to the fatherless is a must for every church. . . . I would recommend that you add this book, Church for the Fatherless, to your list of resources to strengthen the church, families and the fatherless."
"It was Victor Hugo who once said, 'Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.' The book you hold in your hand is an idea, a dream, a vision and burden whose time has come, and thus its message is one that must be heard. Writing from his vantage point as a pastor and with the burden of a shepherd, Dr. Mark Strong tackles an issue that far too often the church and the pulpit have chosen to remain silent on. With skill, sensitivity and the Scriptures, Pastor Strong leads us to face the issue of fatherlessness and what it means for now and the future. While this book is an honest assessment of the issue, it is not without hope or answers, and the compassion with which fatherlessness is dealt with makes it a book anyone can read and not feel condemned. I grew up in a home without my dad and I know the ache that such reality leaves. Thank God that there is hope, and this book tells us how to find it. Read it and be blessed, read it and be changed."
"Compelling, urgent, a must-read for those who care about the church and families. Fatherlessness is a national tragedy resulting in layer upon layer of social and emotional ills. Pastor Strong's call for the church to be God's redemptive agent to the fatherless, along with his passion, experience and practical solutions, inspires hope that every child might know a father's blessing."
"Pastor Mark Strong is a bright light of hope in his city and community. He has genuinely lived the message of this book and has become a healing power to the fatherless generation. . . . If we embrace the insights in this book, we would impact thousands of lives and change the culture of the fatherless. This book is a must-read and an inspiration to all of us to get off the bench and into the game."
"Mark Strong doesn't just unveil the hidden horrors of fatherlessness--he shows how to turn its hardening of hearts into a gardening of hearts with tips straight from the Father's heart for the fatherless."