March 21, 2013
A Closer Look at Church Growth in America's 'Least Religious' Region
Ed Stetzer examines New England and finds good news.
Recent research show signs of re-evangelization in New England, America's least religious region.
According to LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer, new research shows that New Englanders "are less responsive [to evangelism than the rest of the country], but maybe more responsive than you think."
Though more than 30 percent of people in the region report "never" attending religious services, Stezter notes this number is down nearly 10 percent since 2007. Meanwhile, churchgoers in New England "tend to be less focused on personal spiritual discipleship, but in closer relationship with their churches."
This could be a good sign for the recent surge in New England church plants. Last October, The Gospel Coalition's Collin Hansen explained why "these are the best of times in New England." Similarly, Slate reported a month later that local church planting is on the rise.
Even churches from the Bible Belt are getting on board. The Associated Press notes:
Since 2002, the Southern Baptists have spent roughly $5 million to plant churches around the region, and have another $800,000 committed for this year, said Jim Wideman, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England, the Southern Baptist's regional church-planting arm. They've started 133 new churches in that time, a nearly 70 percent increase that brings their regional total to 325.
CT previously reported on the growth of Southern Baptist churches in the Northeast after members mobilized for disaster relief following Superstorm Sandy.