Where are new Churches Needed?
This is a question often asked by church leaders and prospective church planters. The simple answer is that we should plant churches wherever there are unchurched people. Actually, a better question is not “where” but “who” needs a new church planted among them?
In the MSA Memphis area there are over one million unchurched people. Of these approximately 170,000 are people from other nations, cultures, and languages. These people are often small minorities and dispersed in the greater population. The below chart list some of the unreached people groups and their approximate numbers:
- Bhutanese in Memphis 
- Japanese in Memphis 
- Cambodians in Memphis 
- Kenyans in Memphis 
- Chinese in Memphis 
- Nepali in Memphis 
- Egyptians in Memphis 
- Palestinians and Jordanians in Memphis 
- Ethiopian Eritrean in Memphis 
- Somalis in Memphis 
- Filipinos in Memphis 
- Sudanese in Memphis 
- Hispanics in Memphis [100,000+]
- Syrians in Memphis 
- Indians in Memphis [40,000]
- West Africans in Memphis 
- Indonesians in Memphis 
- Yemenis in Memphis 
- Iraqi in Memphis 
There is a strong temptation to look at a specific area and say “there are enough churches there.” However, as long as there are these many different unchurched and unreached peoples, there is work to be done in that area by planting a new church or starting an outreach ministry.
The Mid-South Region needs Jesus. Church planting is the best and most biblical means of reaching the many different peoples for Jesus. No one church can reach their city or the Mid-South Region alone. We must pray the Lord of the Harvest that He would raise up hundreds of church planting churches and send hundreds of church planters into the center city of Memphis and all the surrounding cities of the Mid-South. We want to go where we are not, where the people are and where sin abounds.
The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Memphis, Tennessee
|GEOGRAPHY||2000 POPULATION||2011 POPULATION|
|City of Memphis||650,100||646,889*|
|Shelby County, TN||897,472||935,088|
|Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA||1,135,614||1,325,605|
Source: US Census Bureau, 2010 Census* 2011 population estimates for cities not currently available, City of Memphis data is the 2010 estimate. The MSA of Memphis, spans 8-counties in three states and is the 41st largest in the U.S. with a population of over 1.3 million.
MSA Memphis Population Growth/Loss Areas: Potential Sites for New Churches [represented by the blue dots].
The “blue dot” locations on the above map are not “physical address” locations for future church plants. These locations represent areas where many of the unreached people groups listed above live. Some sites are in new growth areas moving out from the center city to the north, east, or south. Others represent abandoned areas of inner city Memphis, or areas that are being redeveloped into entire new communities within the old city. Any church or church planter could easily make a case for planting a church in another location not on this map. The point here is that church planting in the Mid-South Region is wide open and only limited to the calling of God on your life and the vision of your church.
With the going operational of the TN 385/MS304 loop the next outer super beltway of the region will be complete. Given recent infrastructure failures the trajectory of this loop will eventually continue across the Mississippi River from the MS304 segment to connect southeastern Arkansas providing a new and upgraded bridge/rail system. Projections indicate that low-density urbanization will grow 22 miles east, north, and south of the existing center city penetrating into Fayette, Tipton, and multiple Mississippi Counties. There are a min. of 15 smaller cities that could have a dramatic determining impact on the shape of things to come regarding community development—there is much banter and deal making taking place now. High-density growth areas are projected in all of these areas– the situation is fluid.
The population of Shelby County is 935,088 and growing. This does not include growing areas in Mississippi which are a part of Metro-Memphis. Applying current statistical trends, a maximum of 30% of people are currently attending a church on Sunday morning, which would leave 635,723 people sitting at home. If we evangelized only 5% of these people in the next five years, that would mean we need churches to win and disciple 31,786 people. If every church received 200 of these people, we would need 159 churches to minister to them. The Mid-South Baptist Association, we currently have approx. 160 plus churches, however if research holds true at least 75% of these churches are at a plateau or declining. This means that approximately only 35-40 churches are experiencing success in evangelistic growth.