Many people associate New England with beautiful old white churches with tall steeples. Students of theological history soon learn that much of America’s bedrock of faith—especially faith expressed in the American concepts of liberty and religious freedom—was birthed in the cradle of New England. Surely nearly every educated American has learned of the role of states like Massachusetts in the founding of America and the establishment of Christendom in our country.
New England was also home to great revivals led by famous preachers and evangelists such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Dwight L. Moody.
But what is the current spiritual state of this beautiful region? Sadly, it is no longer a land where a large portion of the population is made up of evangelical, Bible-believing Christians. How great is the darkness here? How extensive is the lostness? In 2005, Barna research found that 1 out of 6 residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut is either atheist or agnostic—that’s twice the national average. Hartford, CT, Providence RI, and nearby Albany, NY rank as the most post-Christian, least Bible-oriented metropolitan areas in the country. In many parts of New England, only 1% of the population attends any church at all. Many liberal mainline denomination churches have replaced the gospel with heresy and New Age philosophy.
At this point in time, the current residents of the six states rarely ever hear a clear presentation of the gospel—the simple good news that salvation is offered freely to anyone who repents of sin and takes God’s only son, Jesus Christ, as savior and Lord.
The entire American foreign missions movement owes its humble beginnings to a small group of determined men from Massachusetts. From their efforts sprang missions agencies that have sent missionaries around the world to bring the good news of the gospel to untold millions. Yet today, of the 27 most populous states, Massachusetts has by far the lowest percentage of evangelical Christians.
The need for reaching the population of New England with the gospel is great. This region has historically been the cradle of American Christian culture, the launching ground of great revivals. More than ever, New England needs light to dispel its spiritual darkness. This region is poised for yet another great awakening.