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LOUISVILLE, KY. — When he looks out over his small congregation on Sunday mornings, Steven Schafer sees a picture of modern American family life.
About half of the congregants come from what was once typical – families headed by married couples.
The rest include “a lot of single parents, a lot of divorced parents, a lot of grandparents raising their kids,” said Schafer, pastor of Ridgewood Baptist Church. “The traditional family is not the norm.”
That presents a major challenge to churches, which are struggling to respond to the revolution in how Americans structure their families, households and romances.
Nearly half of American adults today are unmarried – whether never-married, currently divorced, separated or widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Married couples account for just under half of all American households – down from 71 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Census.
Yet still today, married people are more likely than singles to be church attendees. And churches often seem focused on the nuclear family, whether it’s in the sermon topics or the posters on the walls or the graded Sunday Schools.
The Rev. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church, said his congregation is trying to create a culture in which “you’re not abnormal if you’re single.”
“One is a whole number,” he said. “You’re not a fraction.”