If you’ve been around the blog at all, you’ve read about the wave of international peoples into the United States. As we examine our research, some trends are inevitably shaping up, and this week the Brookings Institute released a fascinating report that corroborates what we have found.
In short, this massive influx of internationals is settling not in our city centers, but in our suburbs. City centers, with public transport and a primarily pedestrian lifestyle, may seem to be the preferable location for international resettlement, but due to a number of factors internationals are preferring the suburbs.
In addition to this suburban phenomenon, the focus appears to be shifting away from our biggest cities (like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) toward smaller urban centers. In fact, a good number of these cities are in the Southeastern United States. The fastest international growth is actually occurring in cities like Atlanta, Nashville, and Raleigh.
This is big news for local churches. Not only are the world’s unreached pouring into our urban centers in the United States, they are choosing our suburbs and our Southern cities.
Now, where is your church?
Odds are, you live within an hour drive of one of these suburban centers. Consider the ramifications for the Great Commission.
Here are a few quick facts from the report:
- Total number of foreign born people in the United States increased by over 500,000 from 2012 to 2013.
- Nine urban centers (mostly in the Southeast) saw a doubling or more of their respective foreign-born populations. These include: Nashville, Knoxville, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Charleston.
- In 2013, 61 percent of foreign born residents of major urban centers actually lived in the suburban areas around a city center.
- In the last 14 years, over 75 percent of foreign born population growth has occurred in suburbs.
Keelan leads the Peoples Next Door project and is a Senior Church Consultant with the Union Baptist Association in Houston, TX. He is working on a PhD in Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In previous years, he spent time as a church planter in West Africa with the IMB and doing ethno-graphic research in Washington, DC with NAMB.