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Muskego - "Bowling Alone," a 2000 book by Robert D. Putnam, has generated much discussion among sociologists, psychologists, political scientists and other observers of American life.

In it Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, analyzed decades of declining membership in many traditional social organizations, from fraternal and civic groups to church denominations to recreational organizations.

Like Putnam, the Rev. Brian Hofmeister believes the trend was unfortunate. As pastor of Lakepoint Church here, he has tried to counteract it.

"We think what Jesus wants to happen in people's lives is going to happen through relationships," the pastor said.

Hofmeister said his church has grown to 350 members since it was established in October 2012. Who has been joining?

"Half of them have little or no [previous] church background," he said. "Young families are our sweet spot, but empty nesters are a close second. They're ready for something new" in their lives. "I see a hunger for relationships I didn't see when I was growing up."

Hofmeister, 37, has called Muskego home since he was 3. Describing the hunger he sees, Hofmeister said suburbs can often be characterized by big yards and isolated spaces.

"Your kids were safe, your schools were amazing, and you loved your home," he said. "But I think people got a little tired of the isolation in the suburban lifestyle."

Lakepoint moved into a former supermarket at S63 W13694 Janesville Road. last fall, and the pastor believes having a permanent home has helped attract more members.

"We had been pretty well known in the community when we were meeting at the high school, (but) it was hard for some people to make the leap," Hofmeister said. "It seems like they were waiting for permanence."

The nondenominational church includes space called the Muskego Circle Community Center, used for church-related activities and available for free use by nonprofit groups.

"We did a lot of homework," he said of the design of the church/community center. "It works as a worship space, and a variety of users say it's great. That tells us we designed it well."

Ongoing activities include a preschool playground, free family movie nights, a date night for married couples seeking to strengthen their ties and visual arts programs. Special programs this fall include a Sept. 28 seminar on sex trafficking victims, a community picnic Oct. 10, and a program on becoming involved in foster care.

"We like to be in the traffic of life every day," Hofmeister said a year ago when the church opened.

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