JEFFERSON CITY – Two maps posted on the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) website reveal that nearly 50 percent of the lost in Missouri live in only seven counties.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 4.5 million people out of the state’s total population of 6 million do not claim to be born again. In 2013, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) created a report “that weighted lostness in each Missouri county based on population.” Mark Snowden, MBC evangelism/discipleship strategist, used this information to create the maps, which can be accessed from www.mobaptist.org/evangelism/demographics. This website also contains one-page reports about each county.
The two maps estimate the number of lost people and the percentage of non-evangelicals in each county. According to the maps, 47 percent of Missouri’s lost live near St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield, in the following counties: St. Louis County, with 701,148 estimated lost; Jackson County, with 437,645; St. Charles County, with 272,719; St. Louis City, with 209,802; Jefferson County, with 176,901; Greene County, with 176,620; and Clay County, with 157,096.
Five of these counties – St. Louis County/City, St. Charles, Jefferson and Clay – have non-evangelical populations above 75 percent. As such, relatively few residents in these counties are seeking to bring the lost to Christ.
But spiritual lostness also exists in unexpected corners of Missouri, far from the city. For example, according to one map, Scotland County is estimated to have less than 5,999 lost people. But only 4,843 people actually live in the county, and more than 85 percent of them claimed to be non-evangelical in 2010.
“My counsel to Missouri Baptist church leaders is to look around them,” Snowden said. “If they’re in one of the least-reached counties, then engage in new evangelism efforts. And if they are living in one of the most-reached counties, why not look to nearby counties that could use some help?”
Snowden encouraged Missouri Baptists to use the maps as they seek to distribute God’s Word and practice servant evangelism in conjunction with the MBC’s “Light Up Missouri” initiative.
Churches can find ideas for shining the light of the gospel around Missouri online at www.mobaptist.org/light. On the web page, servant evangelism ideas come in three categories:
• Days of Service, like donating canned goods to a food pantry or hosting a BBQ for firefighters, police officers or city maintenance crews.
• Seasons of Service, like helping immigrants in the area adjust to life in the United States.
• Moments of Service, like inviting a friend to do a service project with you so that you can build the relationship and witness him or her.