I felt compelled to draw attention to the need in New England because in my opinion, the northeast corridor is a forgotten and neglected area of our country. The Northeast is reputable for being a hard place which has measurably discouraged church planting however, every area of our country has its challenges. If God is calling you to the Northeast don’t be dissuaded by circumstances but be driven by the call of God.
- The Mandate.
Our primary mandate during the church-age is to evangelize the world, disciple, baptize, from which to plant indigenous self-governing churches. (Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)
- The Model.
Make no mistake, the Word of God is our standard for faith and practice. Jesus Christ modeled in the Gospels what He commissioned the Apostles to do before His own ascension.
- Jesus, our Lord and Savior
Our primary model is Jesus Christ who established the first called-out assembly of believers which is the foundation upon which we labor (1Co 3:11). In approximately three years, He traveled on foot or by beast with His disciples ministering the Gospel throughout the three regions of Palestine. He said in Jn 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
- Paul, the Apostle
The Apostle Paul’s missionary trips into Asia Minor and Macedonia are outlined in the Book of Acts. His ministry is a model for world evangelism, missionary work, and church planting. Missionary work includes evangelism and church planting. A concerted effort to evangelize an uncharted city, a cluster of cities, a region, or a country from which indigenous churches were planted was the Apostle Paul’s approach to fulling the Great Commission. Persecution scattered the church, which providentially scattered the incorruptible seed of the Gospel (Acts 8). Others, like the Apostle, set their sights on an area to which they were called.
- The Need.
The need in every hamlet, town, and city is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are not only small towns and large cities without a Gospel witness but there are whole counties in New England destitute of the Gospel.
- More Gospel
Jn 4:4, “And he must needs go through Samaria.” The phrase “must needs go” expresses urgency. In other words, we must go through Samaria because the need is great. The Gospel is the duty of every church therefore, we must lift-up our eyes to see the need in our own backyard and around the world. Jesus said in Jn 4:35, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” Evangelism is not an opportunity it is a necessity.
Paul did not glory in his preaching, and he did not preach for glory, or gain. He preached the Gospel for the same reason Jesus went through Samaria. 1Co 9:16, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
Over 80% of Massachusetts’ population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan region, making Massachusetts one of the most centralized states in the nation. Greater Boston is ranked tenth in population among US metropolitan statistical areas, home to nearly 5 million people. Greater Boston is typically understood to include five counties in Massachusetts: Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Middlesex, and Essex, plus two counties in New Hampshire: Rockingham and Strafford.
The red dots represent a church in the metro Boston area. It is highly possible to have unintentionally overlooked a church. Bear in mind, that the purpose of the map is to illustrates the overwhelming need for the Gospel in metro-Boston. If we will advance the Gospel in the Northeast, we must plant more churches.
- More Laborers
Mt 9:35-87 is as applicable today as it was the day it was said, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Many church planters including some veteran pastors are bi-vocational. They often multi-task, they strive to blanket their area with the Gospel, and they have families that need attention. A common need in New England is more laborers. For example, a soul-winning partner, a song leader, a teen or children’s pastor, or a Sunday school teacher. The need in many churches especially new plants is a true yoke fellow (Php 4:1-3), a fellow laborer which Paul had in Timothy (1Th 3:2), or a profitable John Mark (2Ti 4:11).
- More Faith
In Jn 11:6-16 Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick however He chose to abide in the same place for two more days. Finally, he said to His disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” The disciples, fearful of imminent danger in Judea, tried to talk Him out of going. They said in verse 8, “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; a goest thou thither again?” The Lord responds in a manner to convince them that the need in Judea demands that we go. Observe.
- Lesson 1: We must work while it is day (9-10; Jn 9:4-5).
- Lesson 2: The imminent danger is real but the need in Bethany is urgent (11-14). The death and resurrection of Lazarus is a picture of salvation (Jn 11:25-27). The Bible informs us that persecution, sacrifice, risk, including danger accompany the Lord’s work. Are we to live in fear like the ten spies in Nu 13-14? Should difficulty or danger immobilize the work of God and impede the Gospel?
- Lesson 4: The imminent danger in Judea did not dissuade Jesus from ministering in Bethany. I’m not advising anyone to jump in front of a bullet, but I am admonishing you to guard against looking for a reason not to go soul-winning, or not to plant a church in New England. In my opinion, because New England is reputable for being a hard place to reach people or plant a church, a place from which more have left than stayed, Satan has capitalized by dissuading people from coming to New England. Today, Satan has a strong hold on an area that was once the hotbed for evangelism, revival, and church planting. Consequently, fear and timidity prevail, not faith and courage. (2Ti 1:7)
- Lesson 3: Waiting two days was designed to be a lesson of faith for Mary and Martha including the disciples (15-16).
- Projected Growth.
While churches become increasingly indifferent towards local evangelism, and while we ignore the need and refuse to consider planting a church or partnering with a church planter in New England, the population continues to increase. For example, by 2030, the population of Boston is projected to grow by approximately 15-17%, to a city with 710,000 to 724,000 residents. More than a third of this population growth is anticipated in the Seaport, the South End, Downtown, East Boston, and Dorchester. See Boston.gov
I am reminded of a Chapel message at Hyles-Anderson College, by Dr. Ray Young. I attended HAC from 1979-84. I have used an illustration from Dr. Young’s message many times over the years. He said in that sermon that while “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17), hundreds of people had to have died before they heard Jonah’s message on repentance. Dr. Young discovered that Chicago at that time was approximately the size of Nineveh. In a 3-day period in Chicago, the length of time Jonah spent in the belly of the fish, hundreds of people passed away which he applied to Nineveh, meaning that hundreds undoubtedly died in Nineveh while Jonah was running from God.
- Every Generation is Responsible to Serve their Generation.
Acts 13:36, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers…” Each generation of Christians is responsible for reaching their generation for Christ. Change is inevitable with each ensuing generation, however, the need for the Gospel never changes. The truth is, you are qualified to reach your generation because you understand the interest, the concerns, and the wants of your generation. Who better qualified, for example, to reach Generation Y than a Millennial (anyone born between 1981 and 1996)? Who better qualified to reach Generation Z than someone who was born as recent as 1997? In summary, we are responsible and mostly qualified to serve our “own generation by the will of God.”
- New Churches Promote Interest, Excitement, and Opportunity.
Every church is distinctively different consequently, every church will appeal to someone. Every church has the potential to reach people others have not. Some are looking for a church in their town, or an opportunity to assist on the ground floor of a new church. Some are looking for a church that is led by someone from their generation, someone who can identify with them, or someone who understands the times in which they are living (1Ch 12:32). Some are looking for a fresh start, a new start, or a reason to get started or a reason to start over.
In closing, the heart of this article is to express the need for bible-believing, Gospel preaching
churches. If we will advance the Gospel into uncharted areas of our country, we must plant churches. If you are concerned, interested, or praying about planting a church, assisting a church planter, or serving as an intern in New England please don’t hesitate to contact the author of this article at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us Reach the Northeast,
By Pastor Tom A. Faulk