Above: Chattanooga, a city with a metro area that includes several north Georgia towns, ranked as having the highest percentage of evangelicals and Christians attending megachurches, according to a recent Barna study. WIKIPEDIA COMMONS/Special
While economic hardship persists among practicing Christians in the area of Augusta stretching toward Aiken, SC, those same believers were found to be among the richest in prayer, according to a recent Barna survey.
Barna released the report, “10 Facts About Faith in American Cities,” in conjunction with its larger and more in-depth Cities & States Report, which tracks the faith profiles of 131 metro markets and 48 states.
Labeling prayer as a key engagement among Christians, 98 percent of respondents in the Augusta-Aiken area said they had prayed within the last week, compared to the national average of 78 percent. Residents of the area of Springfield/Holyoke in Massachusetts came in as the least-prayerful area at 53 percent.
When it came to income levels, though, Augusta-Aiken residents struggle. Over half (54 percent) of Christians there earn less than $30,000 annually – which Barna considers “low income.” On the other hand, approximately 46 percent of Christians living in Washington D.C./Hagerstown, MD rank in the category of believers earning at least $75,000 per year (U.S. average 27 percent).
Chattanooga ranks highest among percentage of Christians, megachurches
Chattanooga, a city whose metro area includes the north Georgia towns of Rossville, Fort Oglethorpe, and Ringgold, ranked highest (19 percent) of the Christian population attending megachurches (at least 1,000 attendees). That rate more than doubled the national average of 9 percent. Christians preferring a smaller congregation match up with Shreveport, LA, where 66 percent of fellow believers attend a church with 100 or less attendees.
Chattanooga also stood in overall highest percentage of evangelicals at 18 percent (U.S. average 7 percent).
Barna determined “evangelicals” as those who:
- Have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today.
- Their faith is very important in their life today.
- Believe when they die they’ll go to Heaven because they’ve confessed their sins and believe Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Strongly believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians.
- Firmly believe that Satan exists.
- Strongly believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works.
- Strongly agree that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
- Strongly assert that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches.
- Describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
Further, Barna terms “Practicing Christians” as those who attend a religious service at least once a month, say their faith is very important to them, and self-identify as Christians.