There are as many reasons to love Columbia, Missouri as there are people here—so, roughly 130,000. Here are just a few of our favorites:
42% of Columbia residents are Millennials (age 18-34) compared to a 27% national average. This percentage includes almost 40,000 students at the University of Missouri, Columbia College, and Stephens College.
A demographic research study by the Percept Group described Columbia as “Very High” in lifestyle diversity and racial and ethnic diversity. With families from more than 100 ethnic backgrounds and with more than 2500 international students at the University of Missouri alone, we love living in a place with people from so many backgrounds. It gives us a good picture of what the new heavens and earth will look like!
Columbia is highly educated (7th most educated city in the U.S.; 51% of adults have college and/or graduate degrees compared to 29% U.S. average), but not snooty. The city has a great combination of thinkers and doers, of scholars and starters. As a result, a church that has influence here likely has influence far beyond here.
Outside Magazine named Columbia among the “best progressive towns in America” some years ago. Our community is willing to ask tough questions, challenge the status quo, and seek alternative ways forward. This is a place where ideas thrive, where you can be Democrat or Republican, or like most of us, something else entirely.
What happens when you have a young, diverse, smart, and progressive community? Creative things happen. Columbia is home to an ever-increasing number of art galleries, concert venues, new restaurants, non-profits, and startups. What other city our size can boast in things like the True/False Film Festival, Startup Weekend, Ragtag Theatre, and such good coffee?
Mid-Missouri is home to some of the most beautiful city, state, and national parks we’ve ever seen. The MKT Trail, leading out to the gorgeous Katy Trail, is one of the highlights of the Midwest. As a result, individuals and families seem to be outdoors every evening and weekend. In particular, my family loves the youth sports community, the cycling opportunities, and the ARC. Bike lanes everywhere!
Not surprisingly, our city is expected to grow 38% faster than the rest of the U.S. over the next five years—making it the fastest-growing city in Missouri and one of the fastest across the Midwest.
Even though there are many great churches in Columbia, the city’s church-going population remains lower than national averages. According to our research with the Percept Group, only 10-12% of the adult population holds any evangelical affiliation. Further, the population rate is growing much more quickly than church attendance is growing, meaning the percentage of church-going people in the city is constantly dropping. This presents a unique opportunity for new churches to be planted, especially in neighborhoods less reached by existing congregations.
Most importantly, Columbia feels like home to us and almost everyone who spends a few months here. Jessie and I lived there eight years total and felt it was the perfect place for us to put down roots, plant our family, and serve in the marketplace.