Regional Focus: Midwest
For generations, few images of the United States were more universal than those of the quaint Midwest. Small towns like Walnut Grove, Calverton (of Lassie fame) and St. Petersburg, Mo., (home of fictional Tom Sawyer) were safe places where people worked hard, raised their children—and always went to church. Even Midwestern big cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis (home of Happy Days and Meet Me in St. Louis) have provided pop-culture illustrations of obedient children, traditional values and church-going middle America.
But the Midwest in the first two decades of the 21st century is a different place. Always misleading, those images now miss the reality of today’s urban Midwest. Although the rural Midwest is still alive and well, the Midwest is also the thriving arts community of Minneapolis, inner-city Detroit and suburban Columbus. It is bustling city streets. It is thriving, globally-focused, business districts. It is drive-by shootings. Ten Midwestern cities rank among the top 50 in population in America.
And despite the region’s image of good, hard-working, church-going residents, the vast majority (75 percent) do not have a relationship with Jesus. Many have never set foot in a church. Today the region has a desperate need for new churches that will reach the increasingly diverse region—and reach them in their own cultural context.
Meet the Midwest
SBC Congregations: 5,489
Population Per Congregation: 12,644
White: 78% African American: 11% Hispanic: 7% Asians: 3%Number of Lost: 52 million
Percentage of the Population Lost: 75 percent
Population unaffiliated with any religious body: 50.6%
Population affiliated with an evangelical church: 15.1%
Based on 2012 statistics.
Minneapolis-St. Paul has the highest SBC church-to-population ratio of any of NAMB’s send cities—1:188,248.