Saturday, September 25, 2010

Race Maps

Here are some interesting maps of some US cities color-coded by race. I recognized the top one as Detroit as soon as I saw it. The north red-blue dividing line is probably the famed 8 Mile Road. The pocket of red in the middle of the picture is probably the New Center Area and Wayne State University area. The pocket of orange in the center, just below the middle of the picture is Mexicantown. Our church is located just to the right of the blue section at the bottom of the map.

The data used to make this map is ten years old, but it is interesting nonetheless, not just in terms of racial grouping but also in terms of population density. My suspicion is that 30-40 years ago, this map would be more similar to the NYC map in terms of population density.

Here's a page with some information about the various neighborhoods in Detroit.

I wonder how this type of data might be useful for church planting. It seems that certain types of people are often best able to reach certain types of people. It seems to me that willingness is important, but it is not the sum total of a call to a particular location. I think there is a place for churches to steer people into places of ministry that they might best be suited for.

Obviously, there are some dangers with that. We don't have a heirarchy of bishops that assigns men to places of ministry. But we do have churches, knowledgeable pastors, and community residents who should be able to assess background, gifts, desires, and abilities to help guide young men (or older men) into ministry situations that best fit his ministry skills and heart.

The fact that someone feels called to a particular area is a start, but it is not the end. I have seen some good men fail at church planting because they were doing something that they apparently were not gifted to do, or perhaps doing it in an area to which they were not well-suited. This leads to great frustration, wasted money and effort, and sometimes abandonment of ministry altogether.

I think the local church's role in ordaining and commissioning pastors should be taken very seriously. How all that works out in a particular local church is obviously up to that church. But I would call us to consider the idea.

1 comment:

Jason Harris said...


Can I suggest that your comments are even more apropos for the missionaries you send out.

As someone who's seen both sides of that game extensively, I would suggest that as many as 90% of missionaries in some areas seem to be ill suited to their contexts. This damages the reputation of Christ in those communities and burns out the missionaries.