A quick drive through most of the communities in our state reveals that Mississippi has a lot of churches. Denominational statisticians tell us that Mississippi has more churches per person than any other state in the United States. Think about it, we have more opportunities for people to walk into a friendly and welcoming church and hear the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ than anywhere else in the nation. Wouldn’t you think our missions work was complete in our own state? Doesn’t this level of opportunity lead to more people regularly experiencing Gospel transformation?
Unfortunately a reasonable account of people’s actions in Mississippi tells a much different story. Consider the following points:
21.3% of Mississippi households attend an evangelical church at least once a month
67% of Mississippi’s households do not have even one evangelical Believer
39.9% of Mississippi’s households would classify themselves as non-evangelical and not even interested in spiritual matters
53% of Mississippi Baptist churches baptized fewer than 3 people in 2011, including children
70% of Mississippi Baptist churches would be considered plateaued or declining in membership
These facts become even more frustrating when you also consider the following religious indicators for Mississippi households:
58.4% of Mississippi households have an evangelical heritage (some kind of family experience or connection to an evangelical church)
20.8% of Mississippi households have a mainline protestant heritage
9.72% of Mississippi households have some other world religion heritage
Mississippians are very familiar with religion. They know a lot about it yet they knowingly choose not to be involved in religious activities, even ones that promise significant life changing benefits for their faithfulness . One cannot consider these facts without pausing to wonder why.
The answers to this question likely include factors like the reluctance of our culture to acknowledge the existence of a personal God who desires a loving relationship with human beings. Another factor is the inward focus of many churches to improve the wellbeing of their members instead of reaching out to the increasingly messy world full of other kinds of people with a lot of problems and needs.
The real question for individual followers of Jesus and their churches is what can we do to respond to the current situation in our state? If Mississippi is a large mission field (over 2 million unreached people and growing) what do we do? We would like to suggest that you consider the following steps:
Commit to frequent individual and group prayer for God to awaken your concern for unreached people in Mississippi.
Commit to frequent individual and group prayer for the various lifestyle groups listed on this site to help you begin to understand the faces and needs of Mississippi’s unreached people.
Identify a small group of other Christ Followers who are also praying and seeking God’s direction and meet with them periodically to pray for specific lifestyle groups you feel led to and for God’s direction for how He wants you to respond to these people.
Using the missions information provided by this site examine the types of lifestyle groups in your community (county, zip code or town) and other communities that God may be calling you to reach.
Compare the lifestyle groups in your community to the people in your outreach group. Determine how much effort it might require to get to know them and have them trust you.
Commit to pray and ask God to reveal which lifestyle group or groups He wants you to reach.
Develop plans to understand more about the lifestyle group God leads you to and begin considering ways to regularly be around them in your community and preferably to help them deal with problems and challenges they are experiencing.
Pray and ask God for continued direction for ways to meet their needs and share your personal experience with Jesus.
When people place their faith in Jesus for their salvation, find ways to engage them in effective discipleship processes, including regular Bible reading and application, serving others and telling others about Jesus.
Seek God’s direction to add more and more people to this evangelism and discipleship strategy, challenging some to pursue reaching other lifestyle groups in your community using this process.
This site is provided to give anyone a place to start this journey that Jesus commissioned all of His follower to do when He said in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus told them: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)