By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Participating in the national census is not a high priority for many Americans. But several leaders from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board are encouraging church members across the state to approach the census as both a privilege and a duty.
“It is very important that all citizens of Tennessee participate in this year’s census,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. “The census is as important to our republic as paying taxes, only the census is a lot less painless than paying taxes.”
“Anyway you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field,” Davis said, “and I believe that this next census will affirm that fact.”
The national census — which is, by definition, a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories — takes place every 10 years. The information gathered through the census affects a wide range of economic decisions that are made by elected leaders pertaining to businesses, schools, public works and many other areas.
By April 1, every home in America will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 census. There are three ways to respond: online, by phone or by mail.
William Burton, ethnic church planting specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said participating in the census should be taken seriously, and he is encouraging pastors to promote participation in their churches.
He said participating in the census has the potential to impact the spread of the gospel.
“The information available through the U.S. census is invaluable when it comes to population trends, ethnic demographic information and strategic growth areas,” Burton said.
“It will help determine, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, where new churches need to be planted.”
Burton said the census can be useful in helping churches determine where outreach can be most effective.
“The information can help churches and associations prayerfully consider unreached or underserved people groups in their communities,” he said, “and allows them to examine who needs to be reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
The information collected through the census impacts the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds and grants, which includes money that is used to support schools, hospitals and other vital programs.
The information is also used to reapportion the House of Representatives in terms of determining how many seats each state gets, and is used to redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts, according to the latest population shifts.
For more information, visit census.gov/partners.