We are a Mission Field!
By Dave Earley
I have found that many of us fail to realize that even though Las Vegas, or New England, or Utah are in the United States that they still are a legitimate mission field.
A few years ago, I was consulting with a church that proudly gave $4 billion dollars a year to “missions.” That is awesome! At the time, they were raising additional $100,000 for a ministry in the Philippines, which is 12.3 % evangelical Protestant. 2 Yet, at the same time they steadfastly and absolutely resisted the notion of doing anything whatsoever to help reach a city that has recently become less that 4% evangelical even though it was just an hour away.
Why? Because it was in the United States! In their minds, real evangelism and missions only happen outside of the United States.
Compared to other popular missionary fields, many parts of America are legitimate missions fields.1 For example, look at the chart below:
|NATION or STATE||% of Evangelical Christians|
|Maine, New York||3%|
|Connecticut , Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont3||2%|
Storrey County in Nevada has 0 Evangelical Christians out of the 3,399 people who live there! 3 There are several such 0% Evangelical counties in Alaska, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah.
While the Las Vegas metro area is pegged at 5% Evangelical Protestant, that number drops significantly inside the city limits. For example in the two zip codes we target at Grace City, the total population is 122,000. However, the total Easter Sunday attendance in an Evangelical Christian (non-Catholic, Mormon, New Age or JW) “church” was less than 2,000. That is 1.6%!
That makes the main areas where Grace City serves an unreached people group!
Beyond that, Las Vegas ranks third in the nation for number of immigrants moving in each year. 33% of the students in our schools speak a language other than English in their homes.
Please understand that I am all for supporting qualified ministries in other countries. The Great Commission calls for every Christian and church to reach out in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. I love “cross cultural missions.” I served for several years on the board of an international missions agency focused on the least reached peoples of the world – Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists.
We must recognize that the 10/40 window has horrifyingly low rates of Evangelicals. Europe has become post-Christian. There are still nearly 2 billion unreached peoples in the world. Also, many majority world nations have severe financial, and social needs that need our help (Cathy and I gladly support several orphans in Kenya).
But please do not think that just because somewhere is outside of the United States that it is automatically a more legit mission field than some of the places in the US. That is just not true.
As our church is now one and a half years old, some of our partners have begun decreasing or dropping their financial support. Currently we are asking all of our financial partners to consider moving us from church planter status to missionary status.
Yes, we are a “church plant,” but we have also opened Grace City Flamingo Outreach Center. We are serving 5-10 families a day with individualized ministry of food, clothes, prayer, and counseling. And it is working. Plus most of the “staff” of that ministry are primarily ex-addicts!
Beyond that, we run a daily House of Prayer for the city of Las Vegas and we have a strong School of Ministry that is constantly training people for lives as fulltime Christian servants. Also, the worship service we recently started at Grace City Flamingo has been averaging 75 in weekly attendance.
If you aren’t already, please consider supporting Grace City Vegas as a missionary partner.
- Association of Religious Archives.
- 2% evangelical or less qualifies as an unreached people group.