I love charts and graphs. And so when I came across this chart from the Washington Post, and it was the breakdown of Christianity by state, I was hooked.
There are a couple of observations that I found interesting, and many will draw even more insightful connections.
I cannot help but notice the attempt in the data to separate out black protestants in general from all others. I don’t want to be overly critical of those in charge of this survey, but I think this distinction is unhelpful at best and even potential harmful at the worst. Apparently black people are either only Protestant (which is not broken down into mainline or evangelical) or it is somehow important to identify Protestants by race, but not Catholics, Mormons, or those non-affiliated. At any rate, my desire is that ReCAST a a Protestant evangelical church is open to a diversity of people. The community we have been planted in, is not an extremely racially diverse community, and yet I am grateful for what racial diversity God has given to us. I hope that those from other racial groups don’t have to be counted as White evangelical Protestants because they attend my church.
My second observation pertains specifically to my state. Michigan is much less Christian than I would have thought at first blush. We are fairly close to the national average at 18% evangelical, but that is much lower than it felt growing up near Grand Rapids. I heard a further interesting statistic at a conference I attended in Lansing last year that indicated that Michigan is one of the only states that has a larger church going attendence in urban areas as opposed to rural areas.
I must confess that this gave me encouragement as a rural church planter in Michigan. Two realities stand out that I have come to experience in these past 6 years of church planting. There are people right here in rural West Michigan that do not know in any clear terms what Jesus has done for them. And second, is that despite the gravity of church planters toward the city, we need some that are willing to forego the draw to city life, in exchange for rural communities.
Statistics will be abused. But that doesn’t remove my love for charts and graphs. There may not be any surprises about the preponderance of Protestantism in southern states, or the presence of Catholicism in New England. And even far less surprise at the Mormon contingency in Utah. But one things shines out clearly in this study. A minority of American’s believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And I remain convinced that church planting continues to be a need in all 50 states!
What does this chart say about your state? Any surprises?