Gallup's latest State of the States research is in. There are no real surprises here for religion analysts, with Bible Belt states ranking highest in religious engagement, and the top corners of the U.S. (New England and Cascadia) ranking lowest. (If that ever changes, trust us...we'll tell you.) But as you glance through this research, consider what the statistics aren't showing you.
For Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport's video analysis, click here.
These numbers are familiar, with only minor changes from recent years. But the bird's eye view they give us can make it easy to miss their impact on ministry.
As an example, my native state (Oregon) is tied with Rhode Island for fifth least religious state, which sounds about right. But having lived in multiple settings across the state, I've seen ministry dynamics change dramatically after a drive of only a few miles.
As well, while few Oregonians identify as "very religious," if you changed the term to "very spiritual," the numbers would go through the roof. Sure, our spiritual culture is vastly different from, say, suburban Illinois, but it exists, and it is not always as hostile to the church as stereotypes would tell us.
The numbers are useful, but they don't tell the whole story. So, I want to hear from you.
Please respond in the comments with your take on how Gallup's numbers look from the ground in your region.
What dynamics are at play?
What do you feel are the pressing challenges to ministry in your neighborhood?
If you're in New England or the Northwest, how do you relate to a largely post-Christian culture?
If you're in the Bible Belt, what challenges do you face?
If you're somewhere in between, how would you describe your religious climate?