Broken Families, Broken Lives: The Challenge of Pastoral Care and Inclusion in the Church

Broken Families

The Prevalence of Family Breakdown

Church leaders have long been aware that family breakdown is on the rise, both within the churches and the broader community. Often this is expressed in terms of a belief that divorce is increasing. Actually, divorce rates have fallen significantly in the last two decades and are fairly stable. That is for the not very good reason that far fewer people are marrying than a few decades ago, and therefore there are fewer people, per 1000 population, who will divorce in any given year.

The pastoral issues for churches in this area arise not only for those in adult marital relationships, but those who are affected by these issues in their family of origin. One pastor, with a substantial number of people who identify as LGBT+ in his congregation, reported that about 40% of his  young adult congregation were working through issues concerning the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. Other pastors reported on the impact that such experiences have had on young adults who may, for that reason, be cautious about exploring romantic attachments or committing to a partner.