children + city = strong faith

i’ve been thinking a lot recently about the characteristics of parenting children in the urban context. last week tammy melchien,who is in the midst of launching acommunity church in chicago,pointed me towards a resource from tim kellerat redeemer presbyterian church in new york city.

the sermon titled “it takes a city to raise a child” is a fascinating look at the advantages of creating strong spiritual families in the city.  tim keller claims that 2 of his 3 children would not be interested in christianity had they not been raised in the city. i love the idea of equipping churches to build strong spiritual families in the city.

the sermon is fantastic, about 30 minutes long with a great question time at the end. below are my notes, but i would love to interact with you. take a listen, take some notes, and then share your thoughts!

3 cons for raising children in the city:

1. money: taxes and rent, it costs more to raise a family in the city

2. physical logistics: it’s difficult to get around the city with young children

3. educational complexities: too many options in the city that can prove overwhelming for parents

8 pros for raising children in the city:

1. the city environment provides real world experiences for children

2. an urban context for children undercuts self-righteousness towards parents and their faith

3. children are able to become more confident and self-reliant

4. children are able to handle diversity well

5. the city pushes the family together and creates more connection between home, work & activities

6. in the city, teenagers are able to more easily see a christianity that can be modeled and respected

7. more opportunities for parents to process real world events with their children

8. urban children do not generally have the same pressures to conform as suburban kids

typically, there are 3 factors for influencing a children’s faith: the influence of the holy sprit, the nurturing environment, and the choices of the child. raising a child in the city provides a great place for these things to happen.

fascinating! what do you think? would love your thoughts: city or suburbs?


2 responses to this post.

  1. I was born in rural Wisconsin, moved to Houston suburbs when I was 6, went to college in Boston, lived in Iowa City for a summer, and now I live in a small (40,000 ppl) town in Idaho called Twin Falls. Lots of agricultural workforce here, but it’s interesting for me because I’ve come to value both environments for different reasons. It’s also been comical to see the impressions of native city-dwellers of small town folk and vice versa.

    One thing I really valued about living in the city is diversity of all types. There’s opportunities to experience high culture which just don’t exist in many small towns. Where else can you go visit Harvard, grab an Ethiopian lunch, pass by the goth crowd in the square (dubbed by locals “The Pit”), and be back at work by 1?

    But I’ve also really come to find value — still growing at this — in small towns. Point number 3 on the City-Pros list has been more of a function of a family’s culture than the city’s in my experience; I so appreciate the set-in-their-ways farmers here who raise kids that know how to confidently change a tire, attend church, approach the opposite gender, milk a cow, and get their hands dirty. They not only know how to handle a snake bite, they don’t panic in the face of obstacles. There’s a “roll up your sleeves and git it done”, no complaining, and no second guessing. I don’t see that in a lot of city dwellers.

    I could go on… there’s such greatness about both – I’d love to see more bridges between these two environments because I think you’ve so rightly pointed out, Amy, that there are, indeed, cultural differences between the two! And I hope my own judgments continue to be exposed and killed!!


  2. Posted by amyedolan on July 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    peter –

    thank you for your thoughtful response! i’ve never lived in a small town or on a farm, but i really value what you’ve said about the confidence and get it down attitude that surrounds you. i think you are absolutely right, there are so many cultural differences in each of our environments – makes me wonder even further how the environment affects the spiritual life of a child.

    i look forward to many more conversations like these, as a way of understanding a variety of different contexts!


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