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Take a look around downtown Cleveland and you’ll see lots of churches—large churches, beautiful churches, historic churches.

And, for the most part, empty churches. More than 47 percent of the people in metro Cleveland aren’t affiliated with a religious body—Christian or otherwise. Only 8.5 percent of metro Cleveland residents are evangelicals. Despite a Southern Baptist presence in the city for five decades, only eight SBC churches call the city home.

Forbes magazine calls it one of the “Ten Most Miserable Cities in America.” ESPN calls it the most cursed sports city in America. Others have called it “The Mistake by the Lake.”

Clevelanders have heard these descriptions for generations. Once a proud city of manufacturing prowess in the glory days of the early 20th century, this “quintessential American city” has been called a city with a collectively low self-esteem.

Every few years since the 1980s public officials have predicted comebacks for the beleaguered city. But new sports stadiums, banks, shopping centers, bicentennial celebrations and even the opening of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame haven’t been able to turn around the city.

The real need is for a gospel comeback in the city.

With only one SBC congregation for every 29,321 people in Cleveland, local Southern Baptists believe starting new evangelistic churches will be an essential part of this gospel comeback.

A grassroots coalition of local Southern Baptists and others who want to reach the city are working together to see that happen. Churches like First Baptist Church of Concord, Tenn., have been part of the team in recent years. The church prays regularly for and sends missions teams to help Cleveland church planters. Dozens of people from First Baptist Concord have been a part of church planting efforts in Cleveland.

Churches that want to join in reaching Cleveland through church planting can do so by visiting Send Me.

Let’s come together for a gospel comeback in Cleveland.

Fast Facts


Population in Cleveland

1.6 million people live in the metro Cleveland area (includes Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties)


SBC Church-Population Ratio

There is one Southern Baptist Convention church for every 29,321 metro Cleveland residents (Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties).

Ethnic Diversity

70.5% White
24.7% African American
2.7% Asian & Pacific Islander
1.9% Two or More Races
0.2% Native American
Hispanic Population (all ethnicities): 4.9%