In the Wake of the Great Awakening
The first major result of the Awakening was the strengthening of the churches of America. The Congregationalists of New England received the greatest benefit: according to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, during the 20 years following 1740 the establishment of “ … above 150 new churches has taken place.… ” The Awakening brought the total number of Congregational churches to 530. Historians have estimated that from 25,000 to 50,000 people were added to the membership of New England churches as a result of the revival.
The population of New England in 1750 was approximately 340,000, so that (taking the conservative estimate of 25,000 converts as our number) more than seven percent of the entire population of the New England colonies would have come into the churches as a direct result of the Great Awakening.
In the Middle Colonies, the increase in the New Light Presbyterian churches was the greatest. From 1740 to 1760 the number of Presbyterian ministers in the American colonies increased from 45 to over 100. The churches had multiplied even faster, and in 1760 there were more than 40 churches in need of pastors in Pennsylvania and Delaware alone. Substantial gains were also made in the Southern colonies.
While the Baptists had shown some opposition to the Awakening, they shared dramatically in its fruitfulness. During the period 1740–1760 in New England, Baptist churches increased from 21 to 79. In the South, the foundation was laid for the enormous Baptist expansion there later.
Beyond church growth, the Awakening brought major advances and changes in the religious thought—the theological atmosphere—of colonial American Christianity. The historian Sydney Ahlstrom wrote:
In the long run the influence ...