Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. . . .
Go out to the roads and country lanes
and make them come in,
so that my house will be full.
Luke 14:21,23 NIV
One of the most desirable features of living in Ohio is the ability to live in a small town that offers suburban amenities, rewarding employment opportunities, and a rural-like, simple lifestyle. These are fruitful mission fields where churches can be planted that benefit the spiritual needs of individuals and positively impact the life of a community.
In 2003 the United States Office of Management and Budget designated communities with 1) a population 10,000–50,000 and 2) a largely self-sustaining local economy as Micropolitan (lit. “small city”) Statistical Areas. There are 29 such areas in Ohio and it is reported that the state “ranks No. 1 in the nation for number of attractive micropolitans for capital investment, according to a new report by Site Selection magazine, one of the nation's leading location assistance publications (Resource).”
Only 6 of these 29 areas are served by Grace Brethren Churches, which means that there are many more opportunities for God’s people to effectively engage the work of church planting. The list below identifies those Micropolitan Communities that have Grace Brethren Churches and those that do not.
Our Micropolitan Initiative is looking for believers with a heart for particular small towns. We are interested in building a knowledge base of Ohio’s Micropoliltan Areas and assisting the development of relevant ministries in those small towns, intentionally focused on reaching “the extreme lost first.”
We encourage local churches and individuals to begin praying about a particular a small-town area that God has put on your heart. We would like to be made aware of your prayer focus and help you find the person God is calling to do that work (see Luke 10:2).
God is using a variety of church expressions around the state to reach lost people for Christ, depending on the needs and characteristics of the community, the passions of the lead church planters, the vision of the sponsoring church, and the resources available. These include: house churches, networked missional communities, multi-site extensions, Gatherer/Shepherd/Elder or GSE approach, S.E.E.D. Development, and traditional methods. It is our belief that people everywhere need Christ, and it is going to take a variety of approaches to saturate our state with the Gospel.
The greatest challenge we face is finding believers with the faith, calling and passion to spread the Gospel by what has been termed “the most effective means known under heaven” –– planting new churches. You can read about some of the special people who are “living their dreams” on the pages listed under the “New Churches” tab above.
If you would like to engage this work, broadly or specifically, please contact us; we would love to hear what God is putting on YOUR heart.
For more information about the Micropolitan Statistical Area designation:
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Ohio Business Development Coalition
- U.S. Census Bureau DEFINES Micropolitan/Metropolitan Areas.
- Download a pdf MAP of Ohio showing Micropolitan/Metropolitan Areas.
- All pdf maps of Micropolitan/Metropolitan Areas
Ohio Micropolitan Areas: (Blue locations have at least one Grace Brethren Church)
1 Ashland, OH Micropolitan Statistical Area Ashland County
2 Ashtabula, OH Micropolitan Statistical Area Ashtabula County
3 Athens, OH -- Athens County
4 Bellefontaine, OH -- Logan County
5 Bucyrus, OH -- Crawford County
6 Cambridge, OH -- Guernsey County
7 Celina, OH -- Mercer County
8 Chillicothe, OH -- Ross County
9 Coshocton, OH -- Coshocton County
10 Defiance, OH -- Defiance County
11 East Liverpool-Salem, OH -- Columbiana County
12 Findlay, OH -- Hancock County
13 Fremont, OH -- Sandusky County
14 Greenville, OH -- Darke County
15 Marion, OH -- Marion County
16 Mount Vernon, OH -- Knox County
17 New Philadelphia-Dover, OH -- Tuscarawas County
18 Norwalk, OH -- Huron County
19 Point Pleasant, WV-OH -- Mason County, WV; Gallia County, OH
20 Portsmouth, OH -- Scioto County
21 Sidney, OH -- Shelby County
22 Tiffin-Fostoria, OH -- Seneca County
23 Urbana, OH -- Champaign County
24 Van Wert, OH -- Van Wert County
25 Wapakoneta, OH -- Auglaize County
26 Washington, OH -- Fayette County
27 Wilmington,OH -- Clinton County
28 Wooster, OH -- Wayne County
29 Zanesville, OH -- Muskingum County