In Our City

The Barna Group recently named Knoxville as one of the Top 100 Most Post-Christian Cities. Like many metro areas in the U.S., church attendance in Knoxville continues to decrease as more and more churches are forced to close their doors each year.

Most Knoxville Millennials are not engaged in a faith community. Things look even more bleak for the generation coming after them. Barna’s most recent research suggests that if nothing changes, just 10% of Gen Z will become followers of Jesus. From the outside looking in, Knoxville can appear to be just another historic southern city. It sits at the foot of the Smokies on the picturesque Tennessee River. It has a beautiful and newly renovated downtown and is growing substantially in nearly every direction. Despite its southern charm and a rich landscape peppered with historical church buildings, Knoxville is a city of great spiritual need.

A  Few Years Ago...

An extensive study conducted in 2016 was even more revealing. Its aim was to provide an accurate picture of the spiritual climate of Knoxville. People fell into one of three categories:  20%  Active Christians — attend a church.  40%  Done  Christians — once attended a church but have walked away.  40% Nones — identify as having no religious affiliation. When considering the evidence, it is easy to conclude that Knoxville is, in fact, an overwhelmingly lost city in which Jesus is not widely known nor life in Him experienced.

Why plant in South Knoxville? 

South Knoxville is often characterized as a largely forgotten place. Over recent decades, as the city allocated money for new development, most of the resources went to other areas of the city. Almost none of it came south. Native South Knoxvillians are painfully aware of this.

Some residents will share that old Knoxville tourism maps had the map legend placed directly over South Knoxville as if it did not even exist. This oversight is a telling illustration of what South Knoxville has often been: forgotten.

Sadly, this can be seen in the religious sector as well. Few vibrant, growing churches have stuck around. Of those that have stayed, many are barely hanging on or are dying. The result? Minimal gospel presence or impact. The toll this has taken on South Knoxville over the years can hardly be overstated.

However, a movement in this region has begun, and with it, a coming resurgence that we believe will be far more than just aesthetic or economic. We are praying for a fresh pouring out of God’s Spirit that will bring life, healing, and transformation to a parched land. we believe God is up to something in South Knoxville. We go there to create a community and  join him in it.