This past Friday evening, First Baptist Church of Woodstock (GA) hosted David Platt’s Secret Church: Scripture And Authority In An Age Of Skepticism.  Among the many statistics Platt shared to begin the evening were regarding the Top 10 Most Bible and Least Bible-Minded Cities in America.  The following is the listing:

The Top 10 Most Bible-Minded Cities In America are the following:

  1. Chattanooga, TN
  2. Birmingham, AL
  3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA
  4. Shreveport, LA
  5. Tri-Cities, TN
  6. Charlotte, NC
  7. Little Rock/Pine Bluff, AR
  8. Knoxville, TN
  9. Greenville, SC
  10. Asheville, NC

The Top 10 Least Bible-Minded Cities In America are the following:

  1. Salt Lake City, UT
  2. Phoenix/Prescott, AZ
  3. Hartford/New Haven, CT
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Las Vegas, NV
  6. Buffalo, NY
  7. Cedar Rapids, IA
  8. Providence, RI
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY

These survey results are from a 6-year Barna study produced in partnership with the American Bible Society entitled “The Bible in America: The Changing Landscape of Bible Perceptions and Engagement”.

Of the 20 cities listed above, the one which surprised me the most was Asheville, NC.  Asheville is one of my favorite cities but from a spiritual perspective, it is generally considered a little slice of California tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains.  It is a very artistic and liberal community.

Many feel this is because when George Vanderbilt had the Biltmore Hotel constructed in the 1920s, the architectural and landscaping marvel became a magnet for artisans and creatives.  The impact of the Biltmore Hotel and Vanderbilt family has since been felt for generations.

My meeting with a group of Asheville church planters

This past Thursday, April 20th I had the privilege of speaking to a group of Asheville church planters about soul care and church growth (see picture).  This is my second consecutive year speaking with this incredible collection of Christian leaders.

These pastors are fighting an uphill battle but are flooding this community with biblical truth and a solid theological framework.  I absolutely LOVE this group and they have become dear friends.  It was an honor to encourage them and pour into their lives.

To give you a small sample of the leadership content I provided, the following are 10 Measurements Of Pastoral Success For Church Planters:

  1. Are you valuing the process of being a pastor (daily quiet times, prayer, sermon prep, meetings, staff development, the grind, etc…) more than the performance benefits of being a pastor?
  2. Are you content with just 10% annual growth (200 to 220 in attendance)?  Everyone wants to be Steven Furtick or Andy Stanley but this would put you in the top 1% in the nation.
  3. Is your personal time with God sweeter and more intimate than a year ago?
  4. Are you personally building more relationships with unchurched people than a year ago?  Is your heart more broken for the lostness of people?
  5. Are you personally caring for more people than a year ago?  Is your heart getting bigger?
  6. Are you personally sharing the Gospel more often one-on-one with more people than a year ago?
  7. Are more men visiting your church than a year ago?
  8. Are more men serving at your church than a year ago?
  9. Are business leaders more engaged and better equipped to be successful in that which they do more of away from your church than anything else?
  10. If you are doing those nine things, then you should measure attendance, baptisms and income.  But only after doing the first nine items.

I concluded by telling these church planters the following two things:

  1. God values their faithfulness more their results.
  2. God determines the size of your platform.  You determine your faithfulness to the platform.

I would like to ask everyone to pick a city on this list and faithfully pray for it.  I’m picking Asheville.  Which one are you?


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