Thursday, March 15, 2007

Changing the Inner City

Churches and individual Christians cannot singlehandedly turn around the inner-city. But we can hugely help by realizing that the central problem facing the inner-city is not economic, it is not material, is not education-oriented, but it is familial. I will repeat to be clear: the central problem of the American inner-city is the breakdown of the family.

The central reason for this breakdown is the failure of many inner-city men to assume their God-given role as family heads. The inner-city finds itself locked in a vicious cycle in which young men are abandoned by their fathers, raised by their mothers, and then grow up to do the same thing to their progeny. What a horrible cycle, and how awful are its effects. Whole cities lie in waste as a result.

Which leaves the church to help. We know where the problem begins, and we know the solution: build strong families by teaching young men and young women the proper roles of men and women. If churches would reach out to inner-city youth and explicitly and purposefully disciple them to become God-fearing husbands and wives, the tide would slowly, incrementally, but meaningfully turn. This work will be messy and difficult. It will involve hardship and personal sacrifice. It will at times be frustrating and heartbreaking. But God will honor it. He will honor the efforts of His people to be salt and light in places of death and darkness.

So what do we do then? Churches and the Christians who belong to churches should brainstorm ways to connect with inner-city youth. Men should seek out young urban men whom they could regularly meet with and disciple. Women should do the same. When possible, children who are not from a stable home should be invited into a godly, happy, healthy home to witness the power and beauty of a biblical family. Christian parents should seek to connect with lost parents and befriend them. Churches should develop a curriculum for young men and young women by which they would learn biblical sex roles in all they entail for the different sexes. Then, the church should seek to take in young people and nurture them, not for number's sake, not for publicity, but to save the lost and to, over time, with much work, begin to heal a broken community.

Tomorrow: a reading list.


Blogger Ryan Hill said...

Owen...sorry I am asking so many questions...I hope it isn't annoying you. I have an interest in this topic and I'm liking what you're saying. Anyways, I have two questions.

1) You seem to be proposing that churches should be the primary organization that works to change some of the problems in the inner-city. Would you be supportive of parachurch organizations that set-up within the inner-city and work to revitalize the communities (like the L.A. or Tampa Bay Dream Center)? Also, would you support non-Christian organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs that provide safe opportunities for children to play, be tutored, mentored, etc. (I know you mentioned them in a previous post but I couldn't tell if you supported organizations like that)?

2. How can churches and people who are white, middle-class, decently educated, come from good families, etc. connect with inner-city people whose lives are completely different? I spent a lot of time in high school doing inner-city work with the Tampa Bay Dream Center and found it very difficult to connect with guys my age. It was easy to connect with the little kids because they just wanted to play, but outside of moving into the inner-city communities and living with the people (which I think more of us should do), how can we build trust and camaraderie with the families and young men/women?

1:43 PM  

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