The U. S. Census Bureau recently released some important findings on the growth of our cities. The United States has been a highly urbanized country for many years. This recent information supports the reality that the urban contexts are growing at a faster rate than the rest of the nation. Consider the following from the press release:
- The nation’s urban population increased by 12.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, outpacing the nation’s overall growth rate of 9.7 percent for the same period.
- Urban areas — defined as densely developed residential, commercial and other nonresidential areas — now account for 80.7 percent of the U.S. population, up from 79.0 percent in 2000.
- The nation’s most densely populated urbanized area is Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., with nearly 7,000 people per square mile.
- The San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., area is the second most densely populated at 6,266 people per square mile.
- The third is San Jose, Calif. (5,820 people per square mile).
- The fourth is Delano, Calif. (5,483 people per square mile).
- The New York-Newark, N.J., area is fifth, with an overall density of 5,319 people per square mile.
- The New York-Newark area continues to be the nation’s most populous urbanized area, with 18,351,295 residents. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim is the second most populous (12,150,996), followed by the Chicago area (8,608,208).
- Among urbanized areas with populations of 1 million or more, the Charlotte, N.C.-S.C., area grew at the fastest rate, increasing by 64.6 percent, followed by the Austin, Texas, area, at 51.1 percent, and Las Vegas-Henderson, Nev., at 43.5 percent.
- The population within the nation’s 486 urbanized areas grew by 14.3 percent from 2000 to 2010.
- The Western region continued to be the most urban, with 89.8 percent of its population residing within urban areas, followed by the Northeast, at 85.0 percent. The Midwest and South continue to have lower percentages of urban population than the nation as a whole, with rates of 75.9 and 75.8, respectively.
- Of the 50 states, California was the most urban, with nearly 95 percent of its population residing within urban areas.
- New Jersey followed closely with 94.7 percent of its population residing in urban areas. New Jersey is the most heavily urbanized state, with 92.2 percent of its population residing within urbanized areas of 50,000 or more population.
- The states with the largest urban populations were California (35,373,606), Texas (21,298,039) and Florida (17,139,844). Maine and Vermont were the most rural states, with 61.3 and 61.1 percent of their populations, respectively, residing in rural areas.
- States with the largest rural populations were Texas (3,847,522), North Carolina (3,233,727) and Pennsylvania (2,711,092).
As Kingdom citizens, we must never neglect the rural areas (see my posts HERE, HERE, and HERE), yet as wise stewards in the Body of Christ we must recognize that we live in an urban world. The metro area is a different beast than the rural context. Churches, denominations, associations, and networks would be wise to place a great deal of emphasis on gospel dissemination and church multiplication across the cities of this country.
Training and mobilizing missionaries for such 21st century labors should be on our priority list. And more of what we have been doing is not sufficient for the task at hand, and not wise stewardship. The urban contexts are too diverse, too large, too global, and too significant for the Church to attempt to engage the masses with strategies and methods that are difficult to contextualize and reproduce among the people. A radical approach to church planting is necessary. I have written about this matter elsewhere on the blog. Let me encourage you to read about it HERE.
Take a moment to evaluate prayerfully what you know is being done to reach the urban contexts. What needs to stay the same? What needs to change? What are your future plans regarding our growing urban population?