The following was written by my good friend, and the director of Agape, David Jordan.
Dear Church Leaders,
Did you see the last page of the first section in the Commercial Appeal on Monday? It was rather striking and very disturbing to me. The Urban Child Institute of Memphis purchased this full page space and the first sentence for their article began with, “The rising number of children born to single mothers has helped push Memphis past the ‘tipping point.’” Attached is this article in 3 sections.
Here were some of the points noted in the attached article:
v 2008 saw 60% (or 3 out of 5) births in Shelby County to unwed mothers and fathers…an increase from previous years.
Of children born to single parents in Memphis…
Ø 2 out of 3 children will grow up in poverty.
Ø 1 out of 4 won’t graduate from high school
Ø 1 out of 10 will go to jail
As noted in this page-long article, “there has developed in Memphis an attitude of resignation about this issue and life style…” While my goal is not to be insensitive to single parents, as clearly many do unbelievable jobs in parenting, the fact and research continue to support how our city will not improve without significant focus, support and godly involvement in this area.
The “tipping point” is not just the unbelievably large number of children (9,000 of 15,000 in 2008) born to unwed parents, but possibly more so the resignation within most Christians that nothing can change this “reality” in Memphis. I just don’t believe it. I believe the Kingdom of God has a current and future reality that will not stand for this anymore, especially in Memphis!
I do not write to “demonize” these parents or their children. By no means. I write to us, the leaders of God’s people, who I believe MUST stand up and engage our city (and no longer leave it) and become Jesus incarnate in a life of someone(s) that will make the above statistics much less of a reality (if not eliminated altogether). We must view Memphis from a Kingdom perspective, not from what we typically hear and see…via newspaper, TV, friends, even our own experiences.
What if this really did become MempHIS City? What if the Kingdom of God did become a reality in Memphis (His reign in our hearts, souls and very beings)?
My fellow Church Leaders, I ask you to consider…
1. Praying about this and what it means to you and your congregation.
2. Feel free to call me and discuss and pray about it together. I do not profess to have answers, but God has clearly made this a part of my heartbeat.
3. Focus at least one of your sermons, classes, etc. (if not more) on these very matters and seek God’s heart for your congregation and flock.
4. Talk to me about our work with churches to assist them in being Jesus incarnate through transformative, personal relationships in the very community of your church…and in this city.
Blessings on each of you this New Year. I pray for the reign of God in Memphis and within our churches. I pray for MempHIS City.