Who's in Church?

A recent commenter on this blog mentioned that 80 percent of Jacksonville declared themselves “Christian” in a 2004 census. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it did make me pay a little more attention when my friend Derrak started quoting statistics for Akron, OH, where he wants to start a church. As I said here the other night, we didn’t do a tremendous amount of research coming into this—it’s been a very relational process. So, just for fun, I did a little checking.

Turns out, 81 percent of Jacksonville is completely absent from church on any given Sunday. Only 13 percent of the metropolitan statistical area is present in evangelical churches. Three percent of the people are in Catholic churches, and 3 percent are in mainline churches. What’s interesting is that the only segment that is increasing in Jacksonville church attendance is the Catholic church (up 6.8 percent over 10 years), which could be attributed to the 54 percent increase in the area’s Hispanic population during the same period. (All stats courtesy of The American Church.)

I don’t know what all of this means; I’m not a statistician. But it certainly seems that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people in this city who wake up on Sunday morning and don’t even think about attending church. I’d love to be part of a church that changes that. Wouldn’t you?