You got to know who's out there!
Since this is my blog post, I get to define a couple of key terms. That's one of the benefits of writing; you get to be sovereign in your own little world, even if no one else is in it!
In the world my colleagues and I inhabit, we work with these definitions:
- Mission is a statement of purpose. It answers the "why are we here?" question.
- Vision is a statement of intent. It answers the "what are we going to do?" question.
Vision basically explains
- what this church is going to do
- with these God-given resources
- in this community
- in order to fulfill our God-given purpose
Without a clear understanding of who is in the community you won't have useful vision. You have to know who's in your ministry area and which groups of people are more likely to be "gospel receptive." (Classic missional term there)
PEOPLEGROUPS.INFO is exceptionally useful for pastors who want to lead church revitalization.
This collaborative initiative will help you discover and visualize people groups in your ministry area. It will help you and your church identify people groups that your church may already be suited to reach with the gospel. Judicious use of this website will you and your church to fulfill the Great Commission In your own neighborhood!
As a COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVE of Great Commission Christians to create awareness, discover unreached peoples and places, and mobilize churches, the goal is to multiply churches among the unreached people groups residing in their communities. It is a collection of accurate, relevant and strategic information available to everyone with a Great Commission passion.
I found the "Explore Maps" section very helpful. It will take a bit of experimentation, but you'll catch on fairly quickly.
Just plug in a city or a people group you want to research. The results are presented in graphic form as a map of your town or city with icons to represent the various people groups.
I plugged in Tucson and got a map listing all the culturally distinct groups in our ministry area.
In this map image, the icons represent various people groups. If you click on one of the icons, a dialog sheet will pop up; there you'll find how many people are in that group and other important information about them. The brown shaded areas indicate where the specific group you search for (in this case it was for Poles), are located. This makes it very easy to locate them so that you can begin establishing connections!
Other Helpful Sites
PEOPLEGROUPS.INFO may be the easiest to use, but it's not the only game in town.
The Ministry Area Profile by Percept is a fee-based site that provides reams of data about your community and your church in downloadable .PDF files. It has been the standard in church demographics for more than 20 years, relied upon by over 45,000 church leaders when they needed the kind of community ministry insight only it could provide.
City-data.com is a free online service that collects and analyzes data from a variety of government and private sources and presents it in detailed, informative profiles for every city in the United States.
You can filter data in your ministry area by to locate people by income, economic status, number of children in school, marital status and many, many more variables. The interface isn't quite as easy to use as PEOPLEGROUPS.INFO, but it rewards your effort with greater detail. It's almost as content rich as the Ministry Area Profile, and the price (free) is a nice feature.
But if you're keen on finding socially isolated groups, which are often very gospel friendly because they are experiencing chronic stress, there's no other service that's as easy use or as affordable as PEOPLEGROUPS.INFO.