CONTEXT

pasted-image-filteredRoughly 5.5 million people live in metropolitan Washington. Stereotypes regarding “Washington insiders” abound, but rarely do they accurately portray the diverse demographics of the area. There are 131 distinct neighborhoods within DC alone, and at least as many in the portions of Maryland and Virginia inside the beltway.  These neighborhoods range from great poverty to the wealthiest ���super zip codes” in the country. Like other North American global cities, there is a current migration of educated young adults into the city. In fact, the Washington region has the highest percentage of 25-to-34 year-olds in the country. Within the District���s population of roughly 600,000 people, 50% are African American, 36% are Caucasian, 10% are Hispanic and 4% are Asian. The most recent census data on religion show that most people in the region (extending beyond the exurbs into surrounding rural counties) are not active adherents of any religion. Within this broad area, roughly 1% are Jewish, 2.5% are Muslim, 12.5% are Evangelical Protestant, and 14.5% are Roman Catholic. If data were gathered for people living inside the beltway, undoubtedly the percentage of Evangelical Protestants would be significantly lower. Life in Washington is a spiritual crucible. For the educated elite who come to change the world, the complexity and bureaucracy of the government lead to disillusionment and cynicism. Meanwhile, the poor and disenfranchised experience the same thing in a city that cares about the world but not for them. The gods of Washington–pleasure, power, wealth and education–promise but do not deliver. Jesus Christ offers the only real hope for the city, but sadly, most people here still haven’t met him. What they have seen of the Church is sometimes so distorted as to be unrecognizable. In the midst of all the hopelessness, why don’t they come to Jesus? Because Christianity here often seems especially implausible. In short, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2). Washington needs mature Christian leaders–mentors and role models���embedded in its neighborhoods, with open doors to their homes and open seats at their tables. The city needs vital, healthy church congregations in every neighborhood, incarnating the Gospel in the midst of the darkness. The fields are white for harvest (John 4:35).