Portsmouth isn’t the fastest growing city in America, Virginia, or even the region. It isn’t a suburban utopia filled with middle class families looking for a new church to attend. It’s actually on the decline population wise. The crime rate is very high in Portsmouth (the murder rate is 4x higher than our previous city of residence). It will also be a very different scenario for us demographically. Casie and I are caucasian (I know, shocking), which will make us the minority in Portsmouth. The truth is caucasians will be the minority nationwide by 2050. Therefore, if we don’t start planting diverse churches now, we are just wasting time. The good news is Casie and I aren’t new to the city. I grew up in Virginia’s largest city, Casie grew up in Virginia’s 3rd largest city. We’ve actually missed city life, and are looking forward to being in one of the most densely populated cities in the region. It is also one of the youngest cities in our region (average age: 35.7). There are 100k people inside Portsmouth, but Portsmouth is also small geographically (less than 50 sq. miles). Over 600k people live within 10 miles of our home in Portsmouth. Each red dot on the map below indicates a church in our association.
When I was 17, I remember coming through the downtown tunnel between Portsmouth and Norfolk on a bus filled with teenagers. We were headed home from youth camp. I remember a group of us praying, “God, help us reach these cities!” Well, we were teenagers. We didn’t know how or what to do in order to reach a community. Eleven years later, Casie and I believe we know how God wants us to reach this community.
Long term, we believe Portsmouth is a great place to start a church. It is within a 20 minute drive of most of the areas 1.6 million people. It has tons of job opportunities: shipyards, transportation, government contracting, fabrication, etc. Many people commute into Portsmouth for work, but live outside the city limits. It is a crossroads community for the region. It also falls within the golden crescent of Virginia.
Of the 8 million people in Virginia, 5.5 million live within this crescent. The red dots on this map indicate churches in our state association. We must plant churches inside this crescent. Casie and I have decided to devote our live to planting churches in this crescent. If we were to plant a church in Hampton Roads Metro (Southeast region), Richmond Metro (Central), and NE Virginia/DC Metro (Northern) areas, we could have planted three churches within a 20 minute drive of 70% of Virginia’s entire population. Yes, this may take decades. Yes, it may be difficult. However, we believe it’s possible and a worthwhile investment of our lives.