When you think of Orlando, what comes to mind? Mickey Mouse? Sea World? That family vacation when you were a kid. Those things are indeed a part of the fabric of Orlando as a city, but Orlando is also a dynamic mission field.
Orlando is the most visited city in the United States. Tens of millions of people from around the world visit the Orlando area every single year. On average, the city hosts 60 million visitors per year. Think of it like this. All the places your church has gone and all the places it wants to go on short term mission trips sends people to your church’s neighborhood every single week of the year.
Orlando is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the United States. For years, when church planters talk about places that are ripe for church planting, they highlight growing communities where new people are moving in. Orlando is one of the top five among rapidly growing large cities in the U.S. More than two-thirds of the city’s population growth was due to net migration – both domestic & foreign. One in seven Orlando residents moved to the city following 2010, and half of those new Floridians were global migrants.
Orlando is one of the least reached cities in the U.S. According to one research group, Orlando sits in the top 10 for both top “unchurched” and “dechurched” cities in the U.S. When we talk about ministry in post-Christendom contexts, 2 million people in Orlando used to go to church but now do not. Another study suggests that less than 15% of Orlando’s population is even affiliated with some sort of evangelical church. Orlando is a secular city in need of missionary engagement.
Orlando is a global city. Not only do people visit Orlando from across the country and from around the world, it is host to the nations. From an Egyptian market near Winter Park to Vietnamese shops on Colonial Drive to Puerto Rican restaurants in Kissimmee, the global personality of the city is everywhere you turn. Orlando is home to more than 40,000 Haitians. In recent decades the Latin American population of the city has exploded. In 1980, the Latino population in Orlando was around 4%, but by 2010, Latinos made up approximately 25% of Orlando. The city is home to large Brazilian community as well as Moroccans, Vietnamese, and other nations. When we enjoy a meal, go to a show, or enter an amusement park in Orlando, there are likely workers from around the globe serving the behind the scenes.
Orlando is home to one of the largest public universities in the U.S., University of Central Florida, and nearly half of the student body are ethnic minorities. The campus of UCF alone is a dynamic and diverse mission field. With 70,000 students attending and new population turn-over every year, UCF represents an opportunity for Mission Catalysts to make a real impact for the gospel.
Orlando is dynamic & ever-changing city. It is an entertainment capital. It is a rapidly growing center of technology industries. It is a diverse global city. It is a regional urban hub. It is a fast-growing metro area. The city of Orlando is a mission field. Is the city calling to you?