There may be no more urgent task facing the church in the U.S. than reaching the lost masses in the Northeast and especially in New England. The land that received the Christian pilgrims who came to escape religious persecution so they could practice their faith with vigorous devotion, that gave birth to two of the greatest movements of God (the first and second Great Awakenings in the 18th and 19th centuries), is now the most unchurched area in the United States.
Vermont is the most unchurched state in America with fewer than 2% claiming a relationship with Jesus Christ and only about 70 evangelical churches in the entire state. This is a state with 251 towns and villages, so the majority of towns have no evangelical church in them. Across New England we see families with no church affiliation reaching back four and five generations. In the six states of what is classically called New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, there are about 15 million people and only about 300 Baptist churches. If we include New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in this northeaster corridor there are about 55 million people and a great need for the gospel.
There are signs of hope. This year in Vermont Baptists will plant 11 churches and the Northeastern Baptist College will enter their second year with close to 100 students. Everyone we met there was friendly and there are some doors opening. We were overwhelmed with the need and the opportunity
What occurred to me during our visit was that this might be the home of the next Great Awakening. It just seems that if revival came through the South there would be so many churches and Christian leaders wanting to take credit for a work of God, but that if it came through New England there would be no doubt that it would be the work of God.
So we are ready to step into the gap as far as the Lord leads. Right now we are focused on trying to get leaders and churches involved with Northeastern Baptist College and the churches in Vermont. Pray about being part of what God is going to do in New England. Pray for the churches and believers who live out their faith in an area where they are a huge minority. Pray for God to call church planters, church leaders and mission groups to go where the need is great. Pray for the lost in New England.
Three more things about going on mission to Vermont: 1. it’s much cheaper than going overseas, 2. They speak English (mostly), 3. The culture is familiar. 🙂