Commentary by Professor B. In my books I advocate that growing and healthy churches will participate in the “3Rs of reconciliation” as put forth by John Perkins:
- R-1 Reconciliation both spiritual and physical,
- R-2 Relocation and as Robert Putnam points out in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,”
- R-3 Redistribution of wealth should be on the agenda of healthy churches.
See my chapters/articles/interviews on this:
- MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church in The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.
- MULTIETHNIC & Move to multiethnicity is not easy, but worth it, United Methodist Church Intrepreter Magazine, Nashville, 2017.
- And download my chapter titled “Graffiti” regarding the importance of multicultural churches found in the book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press) here: ORGANIX Chpt 4 GRAFFITI Pg059082
Still, I have grown tired and cynical at watching churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new sound and lighting systems to approximate a rock concert and “attract” a crowd when similar churches just a few miles away are struggling to stay open in lower social economic communities.
This article from The Washington Post highlights the research by Robert Putman which should be a warning to growing and healthy churches that Jesus admonition still holds today: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much…” Luke 12:48.
Why so many empty church pews? Here’s what money, sex, divorce and TV are doing to American religion
By W. Bradford Wilcox, The Washington Post, 3/26/15.
One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.
The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.
Courtesy of Robert Putnam, “Our Kids.”
In “Our Kids,” Putnam assigns much of the blame for the unraveling of America’s religious, communal and familial fabric to shift from an industrial to an information economy. The 1970s saw declines in employment for less-educated men, divergent incomes for college-educated and less-educated men, and a “breathtaking increase in inequality” — all of which left college-educated families and their communities with more financial resources, and poor and working-class communities with fewer resources. The figure below, taken from Nicholas Eberstadt’s essay on men’s employment, shows that work dropped precipitously for men in the 1970s.
(Courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor)
A key reason that working-class men are now less likely to attend church is that they cannot access the kind of stable, good-paying jobs that sustain a “decent” lifestyle and stable, married family life — two key ingredients associated with churchgoing in America.
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