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poverty, children, stats & Memphis Wednesday, August 23, 2006 |

My family and I live in the inner-city of Memphis, which among with other less-then-admirable monikers, has won the less than prestigious honor of being the second most segregated city in the US. Living in the inner-city certainly comes with its own difficulties and problems. But what makes it most difficult is the seemingly undending tide of systemic problems that plague, of all groups, the children that grow up in this environment. I recently ran across these statistics from the Urban Child Institute. Please bear with all the numbers, because the result is telling:
- 1 in 4 Memphians are under 18. One in 10 are under 5.

- In 2004, Memphis had a population of 628,000, including 165,000 children under the age of 18. 51,000 children are under age 5.3 in 4 children in Memphis are Black and 1 in 5 are White. 3 percent of children are Hispanic and 1 percent are Asian.

- 1 in 5 families in Memphis live on less than $8,700 a year. 2 in 5 live on less than $19,000 a year. In 2006, the federal poverty line for a family of two was $13,200; for a family of three it was $16,600; for a family of four it was $20,000. The actual amount needed to support a family is closer to twice this income.

- 2 in 5 children in Memphis live in poverty, 3 in 5 are low-income.

- Child poverty in Memphis is twice the national child poverty rate, and substantially higher than the poverty rate for children in Tennessee (19 percent).

- One of every two children in Memphis lives in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty (where 1 in 5 families lives in poverty).

- 2 in 5 (43.6 percent) children in Memphis live with a single parent.

- In 2002, 2 out of 3 (64.4 percent) children in the city were born to single mothers.

- 15.6 percent of children in Memphis live with another relative, most often grandparents.

- In Memphis, married couples earn three times as much as single mothers.

- The median income of married-couples in Memphis is $52,666. The median income for a single mother in Memphis is $18,029.

- In Memphis, children raised by single mothers are five times as likely to live in poverty than children raised by married parents.

- 1 in 5 single mothers in Memphis have less than a high school diploma, and the majority of single mothers (58 percent) have a high school degree or less.

- More than half of all children in Memphis start life in families made vulnerable by poverty. These children will hear fewer words - and will receive less praise - than their middle income peers. They are 3 times more likely to be uprooted from their homes each year, have fewer books in the home and are less likely to be read to. It is no wonder that they are much less likely to reach school ready to learn.

- Children in Memphis score in the 20th percentile on national tests of kindergarten readiness, and achievement gaps between students from low and middle-income families grow wider through the school years.
Fewer words, less praise, stinging poverty, fewer books, less likely to read, single-parent households... What will it take to bring shalom, peace, the universal flourishing of all things, to this environment?

Can we stop talking now about how "they" need to just go out and get a job? How if "they" will just pull themselves up by their bootstraps "they" can live out the American dream? Can we look more at what it will take to bring about the spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological flourshing that comes as a fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

What I'm talking about is more than just social justice. And its more than having a "Gospel paratrooper" mentality where you just drop in, share the gospel, and leave. It's something altogether different. It's humbling ourselves, like Jesus did, and entering into broken systems, broken environments and broken people for the redemption of the whole thing. Not just the redemption of a spiritual part. Not just the redemption of a physical part. And not just the redemption of an emotional part. It means not being satisfied until we are involved with Jesus in redeeming every part... yes, the whole thing.

Image: Hope for the Sun originally uploaded by Shavar

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reality of parenting Tuesday, August 22, 2006 |

My wife has a great post on the reality of parenting...

Friday Foto Friday, August 18, 2006 |

my angel
my angel
Friday Photo Group

Friday Photo Group

my del.ici.ous - city edition Wednesday, August 09, 2006 |

Here's a little peak at my del.ici.ous tags, the city edition. This is just the Top 10:
  1. Richard Florida: The New Megalopolis - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  2. Metroblogging.com - Think Global. Blog Local.

  3. Unlikely Boomtowns: The World's Hottest Cities - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  4. China's Golden Cities - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  5. Le Parkour // Free Running // LEVITY - Levity

  6. The Gilded Cities Club - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  7. 150 reasonably-priced cities, towns to consider for a 21st century lifestyle - Find the where of your happiness - Forbes.com - MSNBC.com

  8. Tailing the X-Commuter - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  9. Joel Kotkin: Building Up the Burbs - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

  10. Fact file: U.S. cities in flux - U.S. Life - MSNBC.com

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Puritan Quote of the Week |

"Christ is the most tender-hearted physician. He hath ended his passion but not his compassion. He is not more full of skill than sympathy, 'He healed the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds' (Psalm 147:3). Every groan of the patient goes to the heart of the physician."


HT: Fire and Ice

Friday Foto Friday, August 04, 2006 |

Pure 3
Friday Photo Group

More of the Missional Church article Tuesday, August 01, 2006 |

I recently referenced this article on the Urbana website by Jim Thomas that is, simply enough, called The Missional Church. Notice the six new realities of the missional church that he points out. And then read closely his sythesis of some of the seminal ideas of being a missional church

In his book The Present Future, Reggie McNeal describes the missional church in terms of six "new realities" and related questions:

The collapse of the church culture.
a) Wrong question: How do we do church better?
b) Tough question: How do we reconvert from "churchianity" to Christianity?

The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
a) Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
b) Tough question: How do we transform our community?

A new reformation: Releasing God's people.
a) Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
b) Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?

The return to spiritual formation.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
b) Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?

The shift from planning to preparation.
a) Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
b) Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?

The rise of apostolic leadership.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
b) Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

Just as Minatrea said none of the churches he visited was fully missional, I would say that none of the materials I've read on missional churches fully describes what I believe missional should mean. In Minatrea and McNeal, I found the descriptions to tend toward a conventional view of a suburban middle class evangelical church. Their concepts of a missional church were triumphant, with a posture of surety in answers, in the clarity of those who need them, and in how to inform them of the answers. The contrasting posture is one of confidence balanced with humility, and action balanced with learning. They did not address the need in the church for racial reconciliation and the witness that unity (and disunity) are to a watching world. Their ideas of witness tended heavily toward verbal proclamation.

Thus, they did not present the perspective of integral mission. [ italics mine ]

In emphasizing verbal proclamation, they were individual-oriented and did not talk about the corporate witness of the church and of the variety of spiritual gifts that contribute to the corporate work of the church. Finally, they affirmed the role of small groups in church life, but mostly for the purposes of transparency, accountability, and encouragement.

They did not conceive of small groups forming around mission, which is an important and powerful way of making a church more missional. [ italics mine ]

[ read more... ]

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