Why is New England so Hard to Evangelize?
Oct 10, 2016 // By:Dave // No Comment
New England used to be a hive of christian activity. Now it is considered to be hard to evangelize and is even avoided by many evangelical outreaches, speakers and christian bands. There are precious few articles on the topic online and fewer even seem to have viable opinions about how New England changed from being so receptive to the Gospel to becoming “hard soil”.
The following is an exerpt from a rural Vermont pastor:”…he heard a speaker in his college Christian Studies program explain that less than 3 percent of the region’s population is evangelical Christians. By his denomination’s definition, those numbers indicate an “unreached people group”—a whole population without a viable Christian community. “My heart was opened,” he says. “To be a foot-soldier on that battleground is a joy and a privilege.” “The Northeast is the historic cradle of American Christianity, and just about every postcard-ready town here boasts a white church with a steeple. But sometime between the Second Great Awakening and today, the region evolved into the most secular part of the country. In the words of one regional missions group 2, “pulpits that once boasted gospel preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield now proclaim universalism, liberalism, and postmodernism.” A Gallup poll this year 3 found that the four least-religious states in America are in New England. For evangelicals, the issue is more pointed: Evangelical researcher J.D. Payne has found 4 that of the five U.S. metro areas with the lowest percentage of evangelicals, New England cities are beat only by Mormon-dominated Provo, Utah. New England is relatively wealthy and educated, and overall, its population is shrinking and aging.”1
“These days, post modernity has made us shy about sharing our faith. Anyone who holds to an absolute truth is a nut or is too rigid. Isn’t there a better way? ”
We have a command ( Psalm 105:1, Mark 16:15, Matt 5:15-16, Matt 28:19, Acts 13:47, Romans 1:16, Romans 10:17, 1 Peter 3:15 ), to share the message of God and we are uncomfortable about sharing our faith. What is difficult about evangelism is the fact that we must transition from a place of comfort to a place of risk. Evangelism is risky because we could be rejected.
For every opportunity we have there is the possibility for someone to go from transition to transformation. These two men who spoke with Jesus were uncomfortable because Jesus wanted them to transition from their current lives and to be transformed into new lives. This is the task of evangelism and there is a little turmoil every time we, like Jesus, ask someone to church, invite them to a Bible study, or other church activity in order to get people to form a relationship with God.
Very few people have a heart for evangelism because it is hard. There is a high rejection rate and people have difficulty with low results. Perhaps, that is the problem with our perceptions of evangelism. We bring a numerical mind when we think about success of evangelism. However, we see that there is no command from the Bible for achieving a high numerical success rate.
Transition to transformation. It’s about process. Not about results. Let us do the process and let God worry about results. People do not save people. God saves people. May we be a people willing to invite people into the transition of acceptance of the Gospel and may we let God transform people. 5
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. – Mark 8:35
Why is New England so difficult to evangelize ? I believe is has little to do with the unsaved 97% of the population. I believe it falls upon the shoulders of the 3% claiming to be saved but fail to live out the faith they claim to hold so dear. Instead, the believers in New England allow the majority to tell them what is acceptable behavior and tolerable speech and the christian message has been sterilized into social reform ideas and misrepresentations or labels of self-righteousness (with a little conservativism added to ensure we appear old fashioned and out of date). Remember the old addage: “If you cant discredit the message , then discredit the messenger” ?
New England believers have allowed the unsaved majority define how, when and where we express our faith and the soil has now told the farmer what he can or cant plant there. How backwards is that ??!!
Why is New England so difficult to evangelize ? The local believers allowed it to happen and now, with a minority of 3% claiming to have saving faith, other countries are now sending their missionaries here because is it considered unreached !!
Reader, believer, evangelical … We are the cause and we (with the power of His Spirit) can and ought to be the cure !
“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chron 7:14. This verse calls out to those who identify themselves as belonging to God (not to those who are “outside the circle of knowing God”)
God wants to use YOU in the lives of those around you. BUT … it starts with you, not them.
Revival takes place one human heart at a time, and human hearts are won one choice of obedience at a time. Courage and faith in Jesus’ calling must be given priority over fear of rejection by a counter-christian culture.
Want to see revival in your town ? It MUST START with revival in your own heart first. really 🙂
In my next post, Evangelism for Beginners , I talk about some easy ways to get started sharing your faith 🙂
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux