This special issue of The Boston Awakening has been produced as a gift to the students of Boston, Massachusetts. The publishers are the Boston Awakening team – a group of Christian students, community members and ministers – who have come together with the purpose of promoting a spiritual awakening among college students in the city of Boston.
The year 2006 marks the 370th anniversary of the first Christian college in North America, Harvard. Ever since 1636, the colleges and universities of Boston have set the standard for excellence in education that has been copied the world over. Yet most students don’t know that virtually all of Boston’s historic colleges and universities were founded as Christian institutions. Perhaps many believe that we are too sophisticated in the 21st century to celebrate or even acknowledge these roots.
However, there are some winds of change blowing across this almost 400-year-old city. One of these changes is a reawakening of Christianity. In 2006, there are a higher percentage of evangelical Christians studying in schools in the Boston area than at any other time since the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. In this special issue, we hope to answer some questions we have been asked:
Just what is a Spiritual Awakening?
Is it true that Christians once dominated the campus?
Are Awakenings going on in the nations of the world?
What trends indicate that this could happen again?
Some would argue that modern America has become too multi-cultural for a unified religious view. But an examination of current spiritual trends indicates the opposite. According to Jeff Bass, the executive director of the Emmanuel Gospel Center, documentation over the past 30 years shows that “most church growth is in minority communities. Ethnic cultures, especially Asian, Brazilian and Haitian, have started 90 percent of all new churches.” Further, American and international students who have been reared in an atmosphere of Christian culture account for a large part of this growth.
When we examine history, we find the same trend during the time of the Great Awakenings. Students came from other places to study at a New England college. These students encountered something they did not expect when they first began to inquire into spiritual experience.
As Charles Coffin, historian and native Bostonian, wrote in the preface to his history of New England, Old Times in the Colonies: “I have spoken of the meaning of history. Surely it has a meaning, what else are we living for? Whichever way we turn in the material world we find things needful for our use and we think of them as God’s forethoughts, and as designed for our welfare. If there is design in the material world, there must be some meaning to history, some ultimate end to be accomplished.”
History shows us that these spiritual awakenings are inevitable. The question is not if there will be another Great Awakening, but when. In time, there will be many more Christian media projects produced by students for students in Boston. When a movement of the magnitude of the 18th century Great Awakening occurs again in Boston, the students themselves will produce media that will carry the good news to the ends of the earth something that was not possible in any of the prior Great Awakenings.
Could it be time for another Great Awakening in Boston, starting with the 300,000 students on 45 college campuses? As you look into the idea of “meaning,” “purpose,” and “destiny,” our hope is that you will be open to the idea that perhaps God has called you to the city of Boston “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
– The Boston Awakening team