Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Have we forgot Jerusalem and Judaea?

There are many needy areas here in our state of Ohio. Barna research shows 96 major U.S. cities considered to be Post Christian. To be considered Post Christian they had to meet with at least 9 of the following fifteen factors:

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God in at least a year
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus Christ
  • Disagree that the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated to a church in the last year
  • Have not attended a Christian church in the last year
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to share their faith
  • Have not read the Bible in the last week
  • Have not volunteered at church in the last week
  • Have not attended Sunday school in the last week
  • Have not attended religious small group in the last week
  • Did not participate in house church in the last year
Out of 96 cities we find Columbus, Ohio to be listed 25th, Toledo is 39th, Cleveland-Akron-Canton
area is 43rd, Dayton is 55th, and Cincinnati is 57th out of 96 major U.S. cities listed. 

The 2010 U.S. Religion Census revealed a county-by-county study of every denomination. Look closely at our state, the state of Ohio and see how many red dots you are able to see.  

It also seems as if most Conventions, Fellowships and Independent groups seem to all have needy areas listed where they are looking to plant churches when the church planter comes along.  As we have looked, researched and contacted others looking for needy areas we have come to the following conclusion:
When looking at this information it is very easy for us to look over pockets of needy areas. Yes, I believe God does call men to go into farther away areas, states and foreign countries (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria) but we are looking here at the subject not of church planters but churches as a whole being the church planter.
 If we had gone by national surveys, maps or lists of different groups, the church we have planted in Lynchburg, Ohio would never have shown up and is only about one hour from our church. The church plant we are working on in Elmwood Place would never have shown up on a list or a map and is only about forty-five minutes from our church.  As we have driven around our area we have seen many empty church buildings where a church used to be and is now needed.
  My challenge would be this, if the Lord is leading your local church to plant another church, take a map of the area, locate your church on the map, draw a circle of one hour to a one and a half hour drive from there and then drive that radius looking for an area that needs a church plant. 
I believe the list and map seen above are a reflection of local churches obeying (with the exception of Jerusalem and Judaea) Acts 1:8  "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Have we been so focused on foreign missions (which is right to do) that our own country is now fast becoming a mission field?  May God burn within our hearts a desire to see a revival of church planting once again.