This past week I spent two days at a conference for church planters. We learned methods that will enable us to increase our capacity for starting new churches in the hopes of reversing this decline. During one session a chart was handed out that had been put together by researcher David Olsen. The chart showed how the evangelical church was shrinking in the majority of states around the nation.However, all the news is not bad, because in some states, the evangelical church is actually growing. Interestingly, the places with growth were all OUTSIDE the traditional Bible belt. As a matter of fact, the Northeast, which has not been known for its strength in evangelicalism, showed more growth than any other region of the nation.
You may be wondering which state in the Northeast had the most growth in its evangelical population. I am pleased to announce that during the period of 2000-2007 (the latest statistics that David Olsen could gather) the evangelical church grew in Vermont by 17.9%!!!! Can we get a shout of praise to God for what He is doing to draw people to Himself in Vermont?Vermont may be the least churched state in the nation and we may have one of the highest number “nones” (people who profess no religious affiliation at all), but when Vermonters come to Jesus, they take their faith seriously! They are sharing their faith with their friends and family. Evangelical churches in Vermont may be small in number, but they are mighty in Spirit. They are praying fervently and working hard in collaborative ways to share the Gospel across the mountains and valleys of Vermont. Lives are being transformed and churches are growing. Though there is much still to be done in Vermont, it is a bright light on the Gospel landscape.
To all my brothers and sisters who are laboring in Vermont, I say look up, for your Redeemer has heard your prayers and He draws ever closer to our little state.To all our partners who are helping us in Vermont, I say, do not grow weary in well doing, for we are about to reap the harvest.
To God be the glory for the great things He has done!