More Americans currently favor country living, Gallup reported early in 2021. When researchers asked the question two years ago, 39% said they would prefer to live in a town or rural setting. The number rose to 48% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic made life difficult in most places, but particularly in larger cities.
Gallup also found 75% of people now living in rural areas prefer to live in that setting, compared to slight majorities of city-dwellers and suburbanites who would prefer to live in a different setting.
Should the current dynamics result in more families moving to new places, the shifts will likely have an impact on churches in every setting. Rural and small-town congregations will see an increased need to connect with new neighbors, perhaps by implementing small-scale and neighborhood-driven missions efforts encouraged by IBSA’s missions director Brad Lovin.
And churches in major metros could experience even more transience, compounding the challenges of staying strong in communities where people are constantly moving in and out. That’s why churches in transient areas need some mission-minded Christians to consider planting their lives there long-term, Toronto church planter Darryl Dash wrote in 2019:
“Don’t just factor in your career, housing preferences, school districts, and costs as you decide where to live. Factor in ministry. Choose a place where your life will make a different for the sake of the gospel. Be strategic. Live strategically as a missionary.”