Married couples no longer are the majority of U.S. households according to the 2010 U.S. census, the New York Times reports. For the first time ever, families without a traditional husband-and-wife now comprise 52% of households, with families headed by married couples comprising 48%.
But the misperception that all singles are young is also fading as single adults cover the range of ages from young adults to single seniors. While the NY Times article reports that most Americans will marry at some point, this snapshot of U.S. family life is a revelation. In 1950, 78% of all households were headed by a traditional married couple. Today, that figure is 48%, and changes in life choices are a contributing factor.
The census data reveals that college-educated singles marry other college-educated singles, and they are delaying marriage until their 30s. Young women with high school diplomas and with a child or children, are choosing increasingly not to marry their baby’s father. Social scientists believe that the economy is a factor because young male high school graduates tend to be less employable during hard economic times.
These developments in family life have obvious implications for churches. Single adult ministries that focus only on young singles, or professional singles, are missing big chunks of the single population. Churches that seek to attract families, need to realize that the definition of family is broader that mom, dad, and the kids. More often it is mom and the kids.
Same sex marriages, while not mentioned in the article, will be a rising demographic as more states approve same-sex unions of some type. We in churches may or may not like these trends, but the reality on the ground is that these are the folks who make up our community, and non-traditional families need our ministry, too.
What do you think? What implications do you see for church ministry in this changing world in which we live?