Large Cities Need Healthy Churches to Survive


Michael Clary


Everything is Backwards Blog

So writes Joel Kotkin, in The American.

In this article, Kotkin asserts that large metropolitan areas have become havens for the uber-rich while the poor insist on sticking around since they can be difficult to displace.

What he argues is that there is something missing in this equation: a thriving middle class. And a staple of the American middle class is strong, healthy churches. Without a middle class, cities become playgrounds for the rich and their “servants,” and are largely “without children, particularly of school-age.” Even though large cities boast about being places of great diversity, the lack of a strong middle class makes them “hip, dense versions of the most constipated suburb imaginable.”

Large cities should look beyond the “luxury city” and begin to work hard to attract middle class people with families. Of course, this isn’t as ritzy and glamorous as other alternatives, but long term, middle class residents are necessary for the viability and sustainability of large cities long term.

Kotkin adds,

the sustainable city of the future will depend precisely on commitment and long-term residents. It also will rest on the revival of traditional institutions that have faded in many of today’s cities. Churches—albeit often in reinvented form—help maintain and nurture such communities. Similarly, extended family networks will be critical to future successful urban areas. As Queens resident and real estate agent Judy Markowitz puts it, “In Manhattan people with kids have nannies. In Queens, we have grandparents.”

By any reasonable measure, the urban core of Cincinnati needs more of these “traditional institutions” to build into the infrastructure of the city. What that means is this: middle class families need to start churches in the cities, as well as revitalize old and dying congregations, by moving into the city and enmeshing themselves into local neighborhoods. This creates a bedrock upon which future generations can build.