Rapid population growth in Georgia means churches have the potential to expand their congregations. Levi Skipper, church strengthening lead strategist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, says the state is poised for a great harvest.
DULUTH – Georgia’s rapid population growth is a potential boon for Southern Baptist churches that have effective strategies in place to reach newcomers.
The state’s growth far outpaced the national average, adding roughly 1 million people over the past 10 years, up from 9.7 million to 10.7 million, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
About 1.4 million of the overall population already are members of the 3,500 churches affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Levi Skipper, the mission board’s lead strategist for church strengthening, said churches have the potential for “a great harvest” if they strategically reach out to the families moving into the state.
“The greatest challenge is self-centeredness,” he said. “If we choose to be inward focused and don’t open our eyes to what God is doing, we will miss a great harvest opportunity. Engaging our communities with the life-giving message of the gospel is the calling of Jesus for His church.”
The U.S. Census Bureau released population data last week so that states could begin the process of redrawing political boundaries for congressional districts, but the data is also beneficial to churches as they weigh evangelistic initiatives.
Only Texas, Florida and California had population increases larger than Georgia’s.
Georgia’s population grew by 10.6 percent, moving it from the nation’s 9th largest state to the 8th largest.
Across the U.S., meanwhile, population growth was slower, rising to 331,449,281, a 7.4 percent increase over the 10-year period. That was the slowest growth rate since the 1930s, and the second-slowest growth rate in U.S. history.
Skipper said Georgia Baptists need to be intentional to be successful in reaching newcomers and need to ask some basic questions: “Who is God sending here? What are their greatest needs? God has given His church the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We only need to supply the focused discipline necessary to strategically reach those far from God.”