Among the many changes that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic was how and where people lived and worked. As a result, as many as 35% of Americans packed up and moved during the two Pandemic years. What does this mean for your church? Your town most likely has newcomers in it – newcomers who are looking for a new church and/or a place to connect and belong.
According to USPS change of address forms, 15.9 million people moved permanent residences during spring and summer 2020. Pew Research found that, in 2020, 3% of Americans moved either temporarily or permanently, 6% had someone move in with them, and 14% knew someone who moved in 2020. That means nearly 23% — about 1 in 5 Americans — either moved last year or know someone who did. By comparison, in the average year, 14% of Americans move, according to Neighbor.com. In 2021, 56% of surveyed Americans said they planned to move*, according to a study done by ExtraSpace Storage.
Where Did They Go?
The 2020-2021 moving patterns echo the trend that has already been occurring in the United States: people are leaving big, dense city centers for nearby suburbs and smaller communities, according to Bloomberg. While many people who moved out of the city moved to nearby suburbs, there were a significant number of Americans who moved out-of-state last year. United Van Lines found that many out-of-state movers left the Midwest and Northeast to head south and west.
The states with the highest inbound traffic in 2020 were Idaho, South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Arizona. The same United Van Lines study found that the states with top 2020 outbound traffic were New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, and California.
Why Are They Moving?
Overall, the highest motivator for moving was job-related: losing jobs, taking new jobs, or shifting to remote work. Aside from work motivations, the other highest ranking reasons for relocation included: retirement, desire to live near family, lifestyle changes or improvement in quality of life, and health, according to US News. This shift, in general, meant moving from urban to more rural areas, a massive opportunity for rural-area churches.
A survey done by Neighbor.com noted that those who moved in 2021 were not necessarily moving because of the Coronavirus. Forty seven percent of movers chose to relocate from cities to smaller communities to lower their cost of living. Thirty percent chose to move closer to family, according to Neighbor.com. Many movers did so in order to purchase houses with more space for their families.
Connecting with New Residents In Your Community
The best news about these movers, according to Neighbor.com, is that 70% of them plan on getting involved with their neighbors, local events, and volunteer opportunities.
Though the pandemic was hard on churches in a boatload of ways, it is now presenting an amazing opportunity especially for churches in smaller communities. When Christians find new places to settle — they look for new churches. When non-Christians find new places to settle, they look for places to belong. Both of these groups could be just waiting to discover your church.
What if your church could connect with these newcomers and welcome them into your body? What if believers could join you to worship together, serve together, and grow together? What if seekers could join you to find friends, and, in the process, find the one thing they truly need – salvation through Jesus Christ?
How Can You Find These New Movers?
Here at Outreach, Inc., we want every one of those people to get settled with church at the center of their new community and life. That’s why we offer the New Mover Program. In this program, we gather public records data to pull together highly accurate lists of people who have relocated to your area. When your church joins our New Mover Program, we send postcards out on your church’s behalf every month to people who are new to your community. When those people receive a postcard from you, it is one of the first pieces of mail they get at their new place, and it is a clear opportunity for them to come find your church, belong, and experience the love of Jesus.
We believe that major life transitions have a way of softening hearts and making people open to hearing about Jesus. Now is the time to connect and invite new movers into your church. They re-prioritized their lives and made a decision to move. They have relocated to a new city. They are so ready to meet Jesus.