|Posted by Ernest on September 8, 2012 at 10:20 PM|
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of married adults in the United States is at an all-time low and declining. In 1960, 72 percent of adults 18 and over were married, today that number is only 51 percent.
The shift in demographics has forced churches to change how they reach out to this growing population.
According to Andy Stanley of North Point Ministries, the primary mission of Buckhead church is not to help single adults find a spouse.
"I don't feel like the church's responsibility is to go on a campaign to get single people to get married. I think our responsibility is to say ‘hey, where are you in life and what can we do to help,'" said Stanley.
He says history has shown that Buckhead Church, which is one of seven campuses of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area, is in fact a popular place to meet that special someone.
"When we started Buckhead, it was about 60-70 percent single. That has shifted. In fact, we've just had to create more space for babies. Because, again people plug into a church, they meet someone. They get married. They stay there," said Stanley.
That trend stands in stark contrast to society as a whole, where the number of single adults is on the rise.
"The last census did show that singles ages 25-34 actually outnumber married adults in that same age range by just a slight margin," said Ashley Reccord of Christianmingle.com.
Christianmingle.com is a website for singles looking to date or marry within the Christian faith, and according to Reccord, there are several factors attributing to the growth of the single adult population.
"[The] divorce rate or just people waiting a little longer to get married. So many people now say I want to get focused on my career, or I want to get past my 20's to get financially set before I'm getting married," said Reccord.
Buckhead is an independent or non-denominational church and according to Stanley, makes it more nimble when adjusting to societal trends. He's even noticed a big difference when it comes to pre-marital counseling.
"Probably 50 to 60 percent of the couples that come to us for that counseling are already living together. So again that's a little bit of a change in terms of what churches are dealing with. And we've adjusted to that. We expect that. That's just the world we live in," said Stanley.
And though Stanley says the message doesn't change, the approach continues to evolve as society does.
"There are so many people in our churches who did meet in our church. And when they tell their story, they came in as singles, they always say when I came to church they say I wasn't looking for anybody, and I'm thinking no, you were single, you were looking for somebody. And I think that's okay," said Stanley.
Stanley says that they have learned that every few years they have to re-engineer their singles ministry in terms of attracting singles, connecting singles, and getting them involved in the community.