Today was a special day. I returned to see the dentist who performed my most recent root canal.

Waiting. His thoughtful assistant came in carrying an armful of magazines. I picked the February 6 issue of Fortune. Article by Eric Klinenberg caught my eye. In the late 1950s more than 70% of American adults were married. Today that figure is 51%.

Klinenberg is a professor of sociology at New York University. His book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone will be published this month. In it he will point out that 28% of all households consist of only one person. Double the rate from 1960.

Something is happening in America, and many other places in the world. And at the center of this social shift, where it is taking place: the cities.

Last January I was in Toronto at the Urban Forum where Glen Smith talked about the same trend in Canadian cities. Smith told us that the churches need to recognize and find how to minister to the increasing number of ‘singletons’, what Klinenberg uses to refer to single adults living alone.

One trait Klinenberg identifies of singletons is their high social activity, in “urban tribes … social networks that substitute for families … living alone has become intensely social”.

How do we engage single adults living alone in ways that meet their needs? To challenge and help them serve others?

Urban congregations, corps, and ministries will need to recognize the role they can take. In offering to be a place for single adults ready for an intense social experience among those who love God. Some might even call it ‘church’.

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