Why Whitestown?

I am so incredibly excited to be sharing with you about the grand endeavor that God has been preparing Chassity and me for over the last few years, and the work and preparation that has taken place in the last 6 months.

We are a part of the work of planting a new community of faith (church) in Whitestown, Indiana in conjunction with the Church Development team of the Indiana United Methodist Church. Over the coming weeks, through blog posts and videos, we’ll continue to share more and more about the mission God has given us, the vision we are so excited about, what values we are seeking to instill in the DNA from the get-go, about the process of planting itself, and ways in which you can be involved. So, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is, “Why Whitestown?” or maybe even, “Where on earth is Whitestown, Indiana?!” First, Whitestown, Indiana is a small, but rapidly growing town located in Boone County, Indiana, just northwest of Indianapolis. Whitestown was named after Albert S. White, a politician, abolitionist, and president of the railroad that ran through the sleepy little town. For most of its history, Whitestown was like many little midwestern farm towns, where farms got bigger and the population got smaller, but about 18 years ago that all began to change due to the town’s proximity to I-65, which connects to the growing metropolitan centers of Indianapolis and LaFayette (home of Purdue University). Sitting on the south end of Boone County, and just west of the growing suburb of Zionsville (another former farm town), developers began building on the abundant and affordable land. This effort slowed during the recession, but since 2012 has rapidly picked up pace, becoming the fastest growing town in the state of Indiana. The population has grown from 2,867 in 2010 to 7,814 in November of last year, and is on pace to likely double again in the next 10 years! Now, let’s pause for a second. The fact that Whitestown is a growing community is a big flag waving to me, and hopefully to you too, screaming, “Come here!” God’s heart is for people. He loves them, and he calls Christians to love them as well and reach out to them. When new people move into new places, it creates a need for new faith communities and new spaces to connect and engage with those coming into the area, that they might know Jesus and experience the love, transformation and new life that only comes through Him. Now, you might be thinking, “Aren’t there already churches in the area to do just that?” I’ll tackle this question more in a later post, but without unpacking it all, you might be surprised to know that new churches actually reach more unchurched and dechurched people (people who didn’t grow up in church or have left the church) than established churches. The community of Whitestown is full of people just like this. In the area, 53.7% of residents are not involved in any community of faith at all, regardless of religion, and on any given Sunday only about 26% of residents attend a worship service. While the statistics show there is not a high level of hostility toward Christianity or the church, the majority of people simply remain unaffiliated and uninvolved. Many of those moving into Whitestown are young professionals buying their first home and/or starting a family, and the average age is one of the lowest in the state, at 30.7 years of age. Further, those moving into the area don’t just come from adjacent municipalities, but come from across the state and the country, drawn by the growing industries in Indy and LaFayette. For this reason, Whitestown has the highest level of ethnic diversity of any Indianapolis suburb, far exceeding the state average, with 5.6% African American, 6.4% Asian, and 79% caucasian. This burgeoning community is developing, and by that I don’t just mean housing subdivisions. I mean that the community itself, the relationships, structures and social systems/networks, are new or absent. This great blend of people aren’t joining an entirely established community. They are building a new one as we speak. This is a fascinating and exciting thing to see. Many local onlookers in adjacent communities eye up the area and debate what it will become. Will it develop its own local culture and customs, or will it end up more of just an area where people are largely segmented and separated? That is still up in the air, but the way I see it, we have the unique privilege of joining the community and helping shape it as a more just, more loving, more creative, and more vibrant place, the kind of place God hopes it might become. Simply put, Whitestown is a land of opportunity. Not only are there numerous people who do not know the life-changing, transforming, awe-inspiring love of God, but there is the chance to help contribute to this growing community in a redemptive way, a way that puts it on a trajectory that is better for its citizens, the county, and the Kingdom of God. So what’s next? In the coming weeks we will be sharing more about our heart for this community and ways you can come alongside us in prayer and service. We invite you to not only pray for us and this community, but also ask God how you might be a part of this great adventure for His glory.

(If you’d like references for any of these statistics, just ask and I’ll send you a link, or you can Google it, which would likely be quicker)
 
– Seth

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