In December 2012, the Kentucky Baptist Convention released a report titled Lostness Indicators For Kentucky. This report revealed that “many Kentuckians are unclaimed by any religious group, and most of those who identified with a religious group don’t attend services of any sort on a regular basis.”
The report included a breakdown of all 120 Kentucky counties, using three metrics:
- Percentage of population which self-identify as religious “Adherents”.
- Percentage of population which self-identify as “Members” of a specific religious congregation.
- Percentage of population which self-identify as regular “Attenders” of religious worship services.
The results from the report indicated that only 51.6% of Kentuckians are identified with any religious group, and only 13.9% of Kentuckians attend a religious gathering on a regular basis. While these results were troubling enough, the county-by-county breakdown revealed that the percentages in some Kentucky counties were far worse.
Over the past few years, the findings from this report have been used by local pastors, Directors of Missions, as well as KBC leaders to raise awareness of the great spiritual darkness that still permeates the state. And it served as a catalyst for the new study that I am releasing today.
The new study is titled “As Far As The East Is From The West”, and it expands the 2012 report in 3 significant ways:
- This new study examines the spiritual differences among the 6 geographic regions of the state identified by the Kentucky Baptist Convention as the “consultant regions.” (See map below.)
- This new study takes into account not only the percentage of lostness in the 6 regions and the 120 counties, but also the population of lostness in the 6 regions and 120 counties.
- This new study identifies the regions and counties in Kentucky that are in most desperate need of intentional evangelism and church planting efforts.
You can read the full report here, but a quick summary is provided below.
- The Central region has the most people (1,303,806) while the South region has the fewest people (388,048).
- The East region has the most counties (29) while the Central region has the fewest (15).
KBC Churches & Church Plants:
- The West region has the most KBC churches (506) while the East region has the fewest (247).
- The North Central region has the worst KBC church to population ratio (1:2886) while the South region has the best (1:888).
- The Central region has the most KBC-funded church plants (20) while the East region has the fewest (1).
Lostness Indicators (By Percentage):
- The East region has the lowest percentage of religious adherents (34.2%) while the West region has the highest (65.0%).
- The East region has the lowest percentage of members (25.8%) while the West region has the highest (48.4%).
- The East region has the lowest percentage of attenders (10.0%) while the West region has the highest (19.4%).
- Nineteen out of the top 25 most lost counties (based upon percentage) are located in the East region.
Lostness Indicators (By Population):
- The Central region has the most religious non-adherents (611,505) while the West region has the fewest (166,444).
- The Central region has the most non-members (902,291) while the South region has the fewest (225,343).
- The Central region has the most non-attenders (1,152,492) while the South region has the fewest (329,497).
- The Central & North Central regions have the most counties (7 each) in the top 25 most lost (by population) while the South and West regions have the fewest (2 each).
Based upon all of this data, I developed a “church planting priority index” to be used to help identify the regions and counties that are in the most desperate need for intentional evangelism and church planting efforts. Here’s what the data said:
Church Planting Priorities – By Region
- Priority #1: East Region
- Priority #2: North Central Region
- Priority #3: Central Region
Church Planting Priorities – By County
- Priority #1: Campbell County (North Central region)
- Priority #2: Jessamine County (North Central region)
- Priority #3: Bullitt County (Central region)
- Priority #4: Rowan County (East region)
- Priority #5: Pike County (East region)
Obviously, there is much more detail included in this study; this post is simply meant to be an introduction to the study. I will publish several subsequent posts to discuss some fascinating observations from the report, but feel free to go and read the full report now: