The Much-Needed Church Boom

Sam Rainer

July 19, 2007

I just finished watching the sun set over the emerald green waters of Cape San Blas. This area of Florida is known as the forgotten coastline. And it is perhaps one of my favorite places on earth. As I sat in my beach chair, feet converging with the incoming surf, watching the orange sun fall behind the horizon, I realized why so many are drawn to the white sands of the Gulf. It is truly paradise.

While the counties that make up the forgotten coast are some of the most underdeveloped coastal communities in Florida, they really aren’t forgotten. Despite the recent slowdown in the real estate market, a few new homes arrived since the last time I visited a few months ago. Such is true with coastal areas across the United States. They have boomed the last couple of decades.

The slim territory bumping up with our oceans comprises only 17% of land mass in the United States. But more than half of the people living in the US call it home. Between 1980 and 2003, these areas grew by 33 million people. And 23 of the top 25 most densely populated counties have coastlines.

As I thought about the Cape beginning to develop, I realized that there are no Protestant churches in the immediate area (a Catholic church exists, but I have never seen anyone there and it appears closed). In fact, I believe the closest church is about 30 minutes away. I then wondered how many other areas are like the Cape – communities without a church presence.

I realize that many places like the Cape are vacation communities with a sparse population of full-time residents. They are also highly transient and prone to decline with falls in the real-estate market. But are any of these reasons enough to prevent church plants? I think not. No doubt, some coastal communities are saturated with churches. But they are also saturated with people. And more are on the way.

Whether it is a coastal town or a farming community in the middle of our nation’s heartland, we need more churches. With 80% of all North American churches stagnating or declining and 3,500 to 4,000 churches closing their doors each year, our nation could use thousands more who are willing to plant churches. We don’t need any more forgotten communities. And we are long overdue for a church boom.

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