HERE. You may end up staying there a while -- I did. I am no expert and I do not believe the Church needs to engage in business marketing models to grow, but it is interesting. The stats for Clarksville and the surrounding county are revealing:
Population: Up 28% over the past decade to 173,000 people.
Population of Whites up 21% and they represent 67% of the total.
Population of Blacks up 16% and they represent 19% of the total.
Population of Hispanic up 98% and they represent 8% of the total.
Population of Asians up 44% and they represent 2% of the total.
Population of Mixed Race is up 87% and they represent 3% of the total
It is no real surprise. We knew the Hispanic population was booming and those of us who live here knew that we had grown by nearly a third over the last decade (housing starts, new apartment complexes, and traffic among other indicators). What is significant is that the direction of Clarksville is a more culturally and ethnically diverse population. This is true even when compared to surrounding counties. Part of this is urban growth and part of it is due to the military population of this county (ever growing as it is). But what does this mean? I am not sure I know how to answer that.
One thing is for sure. The growth of Hispanic population -- historically Roman Catholic -- will mean the largest congregation in town will grow ever larger (Immaculate Conception) and the Roman Catholic population will continue to move from the fringes of this city's identity into the center. That also gives new legitimacy to the Lutherans (whom the rest of Clarksville has already deemed "catholic" by what they see on Sunday morning and hear from the Lutheran parishes). Roman Catholics have lived a somewhat hidden life in Clarksville; not nearly as prominent as, say, First Baptist, though larger, they have been under the radar for decades. That may come to an end. However, the Hispanic population itself is somewhat hidden so this will occur gradually.
The growth of the multiracial category will mean the largely segregated pews on Sunday morning will become less so and this is a good thing. When I arrived here almost 20 years ago, a Black preacher told me, "Bro. Larry, if any black folk come to your church, you send them on to me and if any white folk come to my church I will send them on to you." I laughed but found Clarksville was (at least passively) following that dictim.
In a practical sense, it means that some think we as a congregation should have grown by a fourth in order to have kept pace with the general population. Alas, we did not. We grew -- just not that much. But I grow weary of such use of demographic data. Evangelism carried out under the fear of the Law is seldom fruitful. Witness borne of hope is much more successful over the long haul. Anyway, it left me with some things to ponder... what will YOU make of the population trends within your state, county, or census tract?