I’ve heard for years that New England, the cradle of American Christianity, is becoming or has largely become a spiritual wasteland, with little to no active Gospel witness. Because of this, New England is slowly becoming an area of focus for church planting organizations in the US. However, new churches and church plants are fragile things, and they can wither and die just as quickly as they sprout up.
So how can the Church break through the spiritually frigid New England ground? While there are stacks of “church planting” and “church strategy” books to which we could turn, it may be best to listen to men who are in the trenches, doing the work.
Nate Pickowicz is the pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Gilmanton, NH. He faithfully serves the church of Jesus Christ, doing the work of ministry in a challenging region, and his new book Reviving New England provides some first-hand insights and timely challenges for those considering doing ministry in the Northeast.
Pickowicz begins the book with a short history of the Protestant church in New England, from the founding of America through its recent decline. He then discusses the nature of true revival by recalling the characteristics of revival throughout church history.
Throughout the remainder of the book, Pickowicz details a strategy for preparing the spiritual ground in his region. I found this material to be incredibly valuable for 3 key reasons:
- It’s not that ground-breaking. This may sound like a slight, but I assure you it’s not. Pickowicz is not interested in novelty here. Instead, he carefully exposits and applies Scriptural teaching on how a healthy church is to function. You won’t find shiny new strategies for filling the pews with gimmicks and spectacle. And that is a very good thing.
- It’s based on a Scriptural understanding of what revival is. From the very beginning, it’s evident that Pastor Nate understands revival is first and foremost a work of the Holy Spirit. It’s not something that can be scheduled, manufactured, or advertised in advance. What Pastor Nate lays out is a blueprint for preparing our churches and individual hearts for the work of God, but everything Pickowicz prescribes relies wholly on the Holy Spirit to move as He wills.
- It’s not just about New England. It is certainly focused primarily on the state of the Church and the spiritual landscape in that region, but there is nothing in Pickowicz’s book that cannot and should not be applied to every church in the US and around the world. That’s why this book should be read by every pastor in every context. The reality is that the spiritual famine that is currently associated with New England is slowly spreading throughout the American church. While some of the details are different, the prescription is the same: faithful Biblical teaching; a commitment to proper church structure, leadership, and membership; and consistent discipleship.
Reviving New England is a concise treatise on what faithful believers and churches can do to try to break through the spiritual malaise and apathy of their communities. It would be edifying to lay readers, as a call to renewed spiritual devotion. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in church or ministry leadership. But I would most especially recommend it for pastors in difficult ministry contexts, as an encouragement and reminder of God’s faithfulness.
You can pick up a copy of Reviving New England here. And you should.
Please note: I was provided an electronic copy of the book by the author, in exchange for an honest review. The preceding thoughts are wholly my own.