CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - You don't have to look far to notice a visible presence there seem to be churches on every corner in the Heartland. But what's going on inside those buildings?
Census records show on average, 10-percent more people belong to a church here than in the rest of the country.
Local pastors say they see interesting things going on here because of long-standing Bible-belt tradition and a longing to make sense of the complicated world we live in.
Ron Watts is the pastor at La Croix United Methodist in Cape Girardeau. He feels Missouri is seeing a surge in more dynamic churches.
"I think the fact that La Croix is filled with a lot of people who are sincere in their faith and really love God and want to make a difference in the world," said Watts.
However nationally, three Methodist churches close for every one that opens.
We discovered similar trends for many other denominations as well.
Watts feels Bible-belt tradition helps our region.
"The people we are trying to reach are also changing and we had to change with them," Watts said.
Brett Cheek, a teaching pastor, says more people are reached when they remind them whom Jesus is.
"There's the God is the big mean man with a beard saying don't make me come down there which is unfortunate because that's not what Jesus looks like," Cheek said.
Kim Proffer says that's what brought her back to the church and says people want a relevant experience.
"I feel like we try to communicate messages through song and other elements that apply to people's life," said Proffer.
"I see people come in one state and over a few months they change."
Pastor Thomas White of the Rock International Ministries says in today's church, he sees more people turning to God when life becomes too much.
"Now they're seeking something greater, they're seeking something that is real," said White.
His congregation agrees.
"I've tried everything else, now it's time to try Jesus."
"I think there's more of a move for faith based services and people want that church family."
Meanwhile, some feel the faithful have a uniquely strong presence here in the Heartland. Strong enough for missions like Heart For Africa to move their international headquarters from Atlanta to Cape Girardeau and a group that builds churches, worldwide -- International Cooperating Ministries to expand.