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Community Context and Mission
Two thirds of Adventist churches in the U.S. (64%) are located in small towns and rural areas. Only a third are located in metropolitan areas. In other words, most Adventist churches and pastors are deployed where the majority of the population does not reside. In the 2000 Census, only one in five Americans (19.7%) lives outside the metropolitan areas where the bulk of Adventist churches are located.

How did this uneven deployment happen in a denomination that prides itself on being mission-driven and making evangelism its top priority? One reason is the emphasis on planting new churches in "dark counties" which was a focus of homeland missions for a large part of the 20th century. By focusing on counties, church planting efforts were directed more to small towns in non-metropolitan counties instead of to urban neighborhoods and suburban towns in metropolitan areas

Today, half of Americans (50.1%) live in the suburbs of the metropolitan areas, yet only 21% of Adventist churches are located where this majority lives. The 15% of churches in the central cities are almost all either historically African American congregations or immigrant churches. We praise God for their ministry in the city, but they need help. The Anglos, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others who fled the cities in the late 1900s are invited to join the mission-driven initiatives going back into metropolitan America. Here's one example: www.godlovesnyc.com

You can establish the type of context in which the Census Bureau considers your local church to be located if you know the county where the church building is situated. A listing of the counties that are included in each metropolitan area is located at www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/doc/pl94-171.pdf

Discussion Questions:

1. Would you say that our local church is located in a rural area, small town, suburb or central city?

2. What does that mean for our local mission?

3. Should we consider sending volunteers or financial support to metropolitan missionaries to connect with the unreached people groups in North America.

New FACT Information, Center for Creative Ministry