Oh, hey again Blog-olytes! Glad you clicked on this very important post from yours truly.
As some of you may be aware (click on the “About The Guy Who Writes This” to find out more) I am in the middle of a church planting internship with Appleton Gospel. This is not what you typically might associate with an internship (Starbucks runs, paperwork, mindless organizing, etc.). Nope, I am mostly with Appleton Gospel to soak in the culture of their church, serve, teach, mess up, learn from messing up, and grow in my understanding of planting a church. The ultimate goal is to prepare myself to do what Appleton Gospel has already done and to lead that somewhere else. Pretty, awesome, no?
You might be asking why we still need more churches in this day and age. Why would we want to start more works in a country/state/city where there are plenty of churches with open doors and warm (but usually pretty awful) coffee on Sunday mornings you say? Well, instead of snide remarks (a specialty of mine) I will return with a hard-to-believe recent findings.
Class, please turn your attention to the graphic below:
What you are looking at is some fancifully rendered research from the Barna Group/American Bible Society. They interviewed a score of people over a seven-year period in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the US on their “Bible-mindedness”. That means that they have read their Bible in the past seven days and agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible.
While their is much in here to talk about, I want you to look further down the list and join me in a collective gasp fro finding Appleton/Green Bay listed at number 85. That is right; a figure-eight followed by the presidential position of James Monroe. That is right above the skeptical and academic Syracuse, New York and six below that last remaining communist stronghold in the world; Madison, WI (I kid…sorta).
David, our pastor here at Appleton Gospel, recently shared this and it has stuck with me. I have been questioning why the Father had us land in family-friendly and safe Appleton, Wisconsin. Why didn’t we land in very secular, highly educated Madison? Or what about massively huge and culturally diverse Chicago? Why not England or Sri Lanka or Honduras or Iceland? This research and our few months in Appleton has really started to unpack why we are here.
Appleton seems like a friendly, churched place, but underneath the surface is a lack of knowledge or regard for the Bible, and by proxy Jesus Christ. The #85 rating shows an understated need for an awakening to the good news of Jesus and that is done through the planting of new churches that proclaim the gospel and a group of people (the church) who live to worship (give the most importance to) the God of the universe. There is a severe lack of discipleship (learning from/following Jesus) and our hope is to be part of a growing movement of churches looking to make disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ in the everyday. We want to be God’s people doing God’s work to show God’s kingdom.
So hopefully I answered your question with some data and passion. If you want to know more about what is next for the gospel in Appleton and for church planting; let me know, I would love to talk and convince you to come here.
You can check out the link to Barna’s research by clicking the vocabulary word below: