The New York Times features a piece on the changing face of the American family. The best way to summarize the article would be to quote a paragraph:
The typical American family, if it ever lived anywhere but on Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving canvas, has become as multilayered and full of surprises as a holiday turducken — the all-American seasonal portmanteau of deboned turkey, duck and chicken.
The complexity of today’s family will blow your mind. Virtually all of the assumptions I grew up with in respect to family are being challenged.
Moreover, it requires that the church actively consider what these trends mean for the continued effective ministry in our contexts. For example, if we consider the decoupling of marriage and childbirth it becomes obvious that many traditional church children’s programs are designed for a reality that now only exists among the well-educated, affluent middle class.
Five trends discussed in the article caught me by surprise and I think pose particular challenges for evangelical Christianity. Each of them is related to the size and/or composition of the family.
- Today’s birthrate is half what it was in 1960.
- By 2050 only 21% of the US population will be under 21.
- The average mother has two children down from three in 1970.
- 41% of children are born out of wedlock.
- 1 out of 37 ( or 3%) children under the age of 18 lives with same-sex parents.
Do any of these surprise you?