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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Why Church Planting? Answer: Least Evangelical U.S. Metro Areas

Least Evangelical U.S. Metro Areas

By now many of you have heard about or seen JD Payne's compilation of 2000 data regarding evangelicals. I recognize the data is 10 years old but it's still stunning. In his post he mentions that new data is being researched this year.

He lists the top 30 metro areas with least percentage of evangelicals. Of particular interest to me is to see so many Empire State cities: #6 New York (and surrrounding area), #11 Albany and the tri-city area, #15 Glens Falls (a very small city, definitely not urban), #17 Utica-Rome, #19 Syracuse, #24 Rochester and #25 Binghamton.

Many here still think of the area as heavily churched, or in decline but no worse than anyone else. I hear all the time, "There's a church on every corner. Why do we need new churches?"  What they need to realize is that the canary in the mine died years ago when our "vibrant" churches were busy having worship wars, bickering about charismatic issues and swapping church members.

This data is from 2000. It didn't happen in 2000. It began decades earlier. So if you were a church leader in the 1980's-90's (probably earlier), the fruit of your labor, or inattentiveness, resulted in 3.7% evangelical population, which is about 5300 people out of a population of 142,000.

Upstate New York is so desperate for new healthy churches right now. Thank God for courageous leaders like J-Stinz, Mazz and others who are attempting to stem the tide. What we don't need is missionaries from the south who don't connect with the culture. What we do need is for the Christians and church leaders of upstate NY to recognize the urgency of the situation. On second thought, maybe we do need leaders from the south — the global south.

We need the churches of our communities to critically and extensively examine their effectiveness for ministry and retool themselves. We don't need to ask whether what we are doing is working or not. Apparently, it's not. That is self evident from the data.

We need many of the churches and denominations in our area to plant new churches — NOW. If not you, then who and if not now, then when?

Here is the list, taken without permission from JD Payne's blog. (Thank you Dr. Payne for making this information available.) Go visit his site for more information to download.

U. S. Metro Area

Total Evangelical Percentage

Evangelical Church to Population Ratio

Provo-Orem, Utah 0.6% 1:18,427
Pittsfield, Massachusetts 1.5% 1:9640
Barnstable-Yarmouth, Massachusetts 1.5% 1:8889
Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket, Rhode Island 1.7% 1:8230
Springfield, Massachusetts 1.9% 1:9814
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA 2.3% 1:8517
Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah 2.3% 1:9808
Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, Massachusetts 2.5% 1:7786
New London-Norwich, Connecticut 2.5% 1:6477
Hartford, Connecticut 2.7% 1:7557
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York 2.7% 1:5837
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania 2.8% 1:6577
Burlington, Vermont 2.9% 1:6630
Dubuque, Iowa 3.1% 1:6857
Glens Falls, New York 3.1% 1:4288
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazelton, Pennsylvania 3.1% 1:4733
Utica-Rome, New York 3.4% 1:4837
Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE 3.6% 1:5704
Syracuse, New York 3.7% 1:5049
Bangor, Maine 3.8% 1:3535
Portland, Maine 3.8% 1:4580
Laredo, Texas 3.9% 1:4598
Reading, Pennsylvania 4% 1:4018
Rochester, New York 4.1% 1:5084
Binghamton, New York 4.4% 1:3504
Reno, Nevada 4.6% 1:4715
Salinas, California 4.7% 1:3686
Lewiston-Auburn, Maine 5% 1:4152
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 5% 1:3978

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