New England. Is it a hopeless spiritual graveyard or an open-door ready for revival? Find out why I believe we can win souls, plant churches, and experience revival in New England.
Countless New England towns enjoy white steeples rising above beautiful buildings and lush tree lines. Unfortunately, many of these churches have long since died. Their buildings and steeples are fossils of a bygone era. New England was the cradle of Christianity in America. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached powerfully throughout the region. Every village, town, and city was influenced by Christ and the power of the Gospel.
Some of history’s greatest preachers shook the territory for Christ. Wesley, Whitfield, Moody, Spurgeon, and more were used by God to save souls and bring Christ to the forefront of New England life.
Astonishing movements of God, such as the Great Awakenings, affected the entire country. Local and state governments were founded and directed by God-fearing leaders. Every New England state constitution gave homage to God. Great institutions were established for the propagation of the Gospel and training of ministers. Harvard, the renowned University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was started as a seminary, as was Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was founded as a cheaper, more conservative ministry training alternative to Harvard. A casual reading of these institution’s first presidents is an incredible reminder of how far they have fallen from their original mission. Today, these universities are bastions of humanism, atheism, and liberalism.
Of all the spiritual challenges facing New Englanders, two philosophies are the most rampant. Catholicism has a strong spiritual hold upon souls. Its works-based salvation is culturally ingrained in many people. The keeping of the sacraments, mass, and allegiance to “the church” are taught as the path to redemption. Some go to church weekly or even daily trying to earn their way to Heaven. However, from my experience, most go to Catholic church because of social pressure or upbringing. They readily admit the emptiness of their heart, but don’t know of any other spiritual option. The “church” and the priesthood have a powerful influence and become an obstacle to genuine salvation.
“The Bible is not only our message but our manual.”
On the other end of the spectrum, atheism is prevalent in New England. Many have rejected the emptiness of Catholicism only to replace it with the hopelessness of atheism. An elitist mindset, pride, and worship of education leads people to believe that there is no Heaven, no Hell, no God, no afterlife, etc. Evolution is worshipped as a deity. Reaching humanity’s full potential is the ultimate goal. The Bible is considered to be a fairytale. Jesus Christ is rejected as an ordinary man. Religion is categorized as one of the world’s greatest problems. To make matters worse, New England once had the Gospel. Many New Englanders know the region’s Christian history and proudly reject it. Rejoicing in the feeling that they have “evolved” past Christianity. They need to hear the truth!
The New England states rank at the bottom in every category of religious activity. Belief in the Bible, belief in God, Biblical mindset, religious practices, faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, and church attendance statistics fall well behind most of the country. Often, even those few that attend a church do not believe in fundamental Bible doctrines.
For example, Rhode Island was settled by Baptists who were persecuted in Massachusetts for not following Congregational law and doctrine. The state was founded on religious liberty becoming a model for future states and the founding of American government.
An Unsaved Baptist Pastor?
When I was praying about accepting a call to pastor the wonderful people of Curtis Corner Baptist Church in Wakefield, RI, I did a quick search of other churches in the area. I found what you would expect: many Catholic churches, a few Pentecostal churches, and one each of Methodist, Church of Christ, Congregational, Episcopal, and Universalist Unitarian. However, I was shocked to find that there were almost 30 Baptist Churches listed in a 20-mile radius. I was equally astonished to learn that only a few of those preached the Gospel anymore. Most were dead. You couldn’t get saved in them by accident. How sad!
I had only been pastoring in Rhode Island for a short time when I was asked to help with a funeral at a Northern Baptist Convention church. A loved one of a family that was attending our church had passed, and the funeral was to be held there. The family asked if I would give the Gospel at the funeral. I was happy to do so. The pastor of the church moderated the funeral in an ornate robe. The service was stilted and very general. I was called up to give a “testimony.” As I began to give the Gospel, I couldn’t help but notice the pastor behind me was fidgety. He kept readjusting his posture and nervously cleared his throat a few times. I finished the presentation and made a plea to sinners.
“Praise God for each faithful Pastor and church member serving in the Northeast!”
After the funeral ended, I went looking for the man who invited me to testify at the funeral. I found him by the pastor’s office engrossed in conversation. As I walked close enough to hear them, I was surprised to find out that he was witnessing to the pastor! He turned to me and said, “Pastor, I’m trying to explain to the preacher what it means to be born again.” Wow! I began to give Scripture and speak to the Northern Baptist Convention pastor myself. After a few minutes, he raised his hand and said, “I’m not sure about all this “born-again” stuff. I’m uncomfortable with this conversation. Have a good day.” He went into his office and shut the door. My friend and I just looked at each other in shock.
This man was a seminary trained pastor leading a church but didn’t know or want to know what it meant to be born again! He wasn’t saved! I have thought of that experience many times since then. I can’t help but wonder how many people are sitting in churches faithfully each week that have never heard a clear presentation of the glorious Gospel.
How will we reach New England?
God gave us His plan in The Book. The Bible is not only our message but our manual. Our tools may change, but Scripture dictates our methods and philosophies of ministry. Worldly music, cool lighting, loose living, and low expectations will not draw people to follow Jesus to the ends of the Earth.
The Northeast needs leather-lunged men of God who are filled with His Word and Spirit to preach the Cross and the Bible. The King James Bible, personal soulwinning, powerful preaching, exciting church services, complete surrender, Biblical discipleship, and faithful followers of Jesus Christ can still change the world! We don’t need new philosophies. We need fresh vision! We don’t need worldly methods. We need heavenly power!
Over 14,000,000 souls live in the six states that make up New England. These states are Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The region called “The Northeast” adds to those New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Bos/Wash Megalopolis is the area from Boston, MA to Washington, D.C. This area includes over 50 million people and boasts some of the world’s most influential cities, governments, corporations, universities, and institutions. Yet, it has generally been unreached for Christ. No wonder our nation is in such turmoil! We must get the gospel to every soul in the Northeast!
IT CAN BE DONE
Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Our Lord gave us the commission to preach the gospel to every creature. I realize this task is overwhelming and seems impossible. It is not. God will empower us to do what He has commanded if we will have the faith to attempt the impossible. He has not sent us alone. He is with us! It is not our power, but His that makes world evangelism possible.
With that in mind, we can see that getting the Gospel to every soul in New England and the United States is not only doable but also expected by our Saviour. In fact, it is a relatively small part of our overall objective. God’s people must stop looking at the obstacles and begin looking to our Almighty God. We will never walk on water if we don’t get out of the boat. We will never see the Jordan River part if we don’t get our feet wet. We will never see the walls of Jericho fall unless we obey God’s instructions! It’s time to stop talking and start doing! Will you help us Save New England?
Individual churches are doing the job. The results may not come as quickly in New England as in some parts of the world, but the rewards are phenomenal. Praise God for each faithful Pastor and church member serving in the Northeast!
Also, God is raising up ministries like SaveNewEngland.org. Save New England is an Independent Baptist Ministry helping local churches to preach revival, train soulwinners, and plant churches. It is my honor to be a part of this new ministry. One of our representatives would be happy to come to your church to present the need, update you on the miracles, and help your church make a difference in New England. Also, the Save New England Quarterly Magazine helps us spread awareness of God’s work, New England churches’ needs, Church planters worthy of support, and Biblical truth. We happily provide encouragement, training, fellowship, and resources to new Church Planters coming to our region. If we don’t save New England, we will lose the entire country.
Will you help us?
Learn more about Pastor Chapman and his mission to Save New England at www.PaulEChapman.com, where this article was originally published. Curtis Corner Baptist Church is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year and we will be hearing more about that in a future interview with Pastor Chapman. Please visit www.curtiscornerbaptist.com for additional information.