Writing in Christianity Today, Rob Moll believes there’s a revival afoot here in Boston.
In fact, evangelical Christianity is thriving in Boston. During the past 30 years, church growth, fueled by evangelical university groups and immigrant communities, has dramatically outpaced population growth. At the same time, mainline denominations have dwindled and the abuse scandal in the Catholic church has forced the closing of dozens of parishes. Evangelical leaders expect this “quiet revival” not only to continue, but to blossom into another Great Awakening.
As evidence for the revival, Moll points to the increase in the number of evangelical students attending various of the sixty-some colleges in town (“Not since the 17th century has there been so many evangelicals at Harvard University”). And he notes that college students compose forty percent of those attending Park Street, Harold Ockenga’s old church.
I’m not so sure that’s a sign of “revival.” Boston is very much a college town, meaning that a significant part of its population comes from elsewhere and will leave in a few years. The greater proportion of evangelical college students more likely reflects national trends than anything specific to Boston. Likewise, the growth of “small storefront churches full of minorities” probably has more to do with international students than those intending to stay here. Churches need to comprise more than just students to thrive, and it seems to me that a true revival would involve the regular citizens of Boston as well.