On October 12, 1740, George Whitefield preached the gospel in the Boston Common. At that time the relatively young city had a population of about 17,000. But 22,000 people crammed into the oldest park in the United States to hear the “Grand Itinerant” tell of the glories of the grace of God in Christ. Of this we can be sure: as the region most affected by the First Great Awakening, New England was once abuzz with the gospel.
The tune sounds starkly different today. The top five least religious major cities in America can be found in New England, and only about 1 percent to 3 percent of the population attend evangelical churches. The region is increasingly identified as post-Christian. From this statistical angle, it would seem that there is little reason to hope for widespread gospel renewal in New England.
And yet, Christians in New England know that God is at work in a unique way. In what looks like rocky soil, a growing number of churches are being planted. More Christians have become enthralled by the good news of the gospel and its implications for all of life. In the face of secularism, skepticism, and unbelief, these believers are filled with hope and expectance that God is bringing about a new movement of the gospel in their region. They see New England as “the new American missional frontier” rather than as a lost cause.
On October 19-20, many of these Christians will meet for the New England regional chapter of The Gospel Coalition’s fall conference, just blocks from where that 18th-century crowd gathered to hear Whitefield preach. The conference aims to encourage the development of this organic gospel movement, and to resource believers who are seeking a deeper knowledge and experience of the gospel. We’ll be joined by Tim Keller, John Piper, D. A. Carson, and Stephen Um, along with David F. Wells, Richard Lints, Steven Chin, Jared Wilson, Wes Pastor, Collin Hansen, and more. Together, we’ll consider what it might look for New England Christians to live out “The Gospel-Shaped Life.”
Would you pray with us that God will use this conference to unite Christians in the gospel, and to spur on the gospel growth that we are beginning to see in our midst. Finally, if you’re able, please consider joining us. We’d love to see you in Boston this fall. Registration is now live at tgcnewengland.com.
Note: This post originally appeared at The Gospel Coalition.