The Book of Acts and the Bos-Wash Megalopolis
The Bos-Wash megalopolis includes eleven states from D.C. to Maine. In his most famous work, Jean Gottmann presents the distinct yet cohesive cities from Washington D.C. to Boston as a kind of supercity. It is the most heavily urbanized region in the country: “As of 2010, the region contained over 50 million people, about 17% of the U.S. population on less than 2% of the nation's land area, with a population density of approximately 1,000 people per square mile, compared to the U.S. average of 80.5 per square mile.” (Wikipedia)
The Bos-Wash megalopolis produces 20% of the nation’s GDP, containing nearly 50% of the nation’s hedge funds and the headquarters of 162 Fortune Global 500 companies. It boasts six of the eight Ivy League universities, and is home to the White House, the Capitol, the United Nations, and many leading media outlets (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Comcast, NY Times, Washington Post, and USA Today). It is no challenge to make the case that it is one of the - maybe the - most influential regions on the planet.
In each generation, God places his people specifically and carefully, to be salt and light in society and help their neighbors reach for him and find him (Acts 17.26-27). As Nehemiah was called to serve Jerusalem, as Esther was called to shape political policy in the Persian capital of Susa, as Jonah was called to bring about repentance in the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Ninevah, as the exiles were called to bring God’s peace and favor to Babylon, as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as Paul was called to preach Christ in the great cities around the Mediterranean and ultimately in Rome — so we are called to the great megalopolis of the Northeast.
The book of Acts kicks off with Jesus “giving commands through the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2). Perhaps the most important command is recorded in verse 8 of chapter one: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” There are obvious echoes of Isaiah 49, where God says that it is “too small a thing” for the gospel to be known only in Israel, that far off islands and distant shores will hear the good news. Jesus was commissioning his disciples to take the gospel to the neighborhoods and the nations in their generation. He was commissioning them to evangelize their generation.
This same commission is given to every subsequent generation – it has to be, because no generation is born as believers in Christ. Every generation needs to be freshly evangelized. Every generation needs their own book of Acts. Let’s do it again. Let’s do the book of Acts again in the Northeast.
The twenty-eight chapters of Acts span a period of about thirty years. Think back thirty years. How old were you? Think ahead thirty years. How old will you be? You may still have two books of Acts worth of time ahead of you. You may have one, or half.
In the first century, in a mere three decades, the gospel made outstanding progress all around the Northeast Mediterranean and further. Why should similar gospel advance not happen again in our day and in our region? We are as normal and flawed as the early disciples were. We have the same God, the same commission, and the same power of the Spirit as they did. Yet, we also have the full canon of Scripture, 2,000 years more experience and immense technology at our disposal. What might we accomplish for the kingdom in the next thirty years if we take God at his Word, draw on his power and partner together to see people saved and discipled through the planting of many gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming churches?
Let’s do it again.