The Great Awakening was a series of religious revivals that affected every part of English America in the first half of the eighteenth century. Religion, a huge part of America involved almost all colonists. If citizens weren't actively involved in a church most did have a religion. The Great Awakening swept through eighteenth century America and awoke the sleeping religious practices of early American citizens. .
In all the colonial churches, religion was less fervid in the early eighteenth century. The Puritan churches especially suffered because of their strict policy of church membership and their theological doctrines. There were droning preachers or "dead dogs" that lectured on ideas that the majority of the population didn't feel or understand. Religion had become too staid, selective and authoritarian for Americans. There was a decline of religion throughout the colonies because it didn't meet the needs of the common people. Liberal ideas began to challenge old- time religion. Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian preached that individual free will, not divine decree, determined a person's eternal fate. This belief encouraged new thinking and this new thinking was contrary to old religious ideas. The stage was set for a rousing religious revival and it exploded in the 1730s and 1740s. .
Revivals were what defined the Great Awakening. They stressed interior the experience of salvation and emphasized emotion rather than great learning. People felt they could have spiritual salvation with out the need of a church. Every colonist, man or woman, poor or rich, black or white, experienced the exhilarating revivals. It brought to them a new kind of spirituality and powerful emotions that they had hardly experienced before. Nathan Cole, on going to hear George Whitefield at Middle town in 1740, experienced these new emotions. In this document Cole told of the rush and excitement of dropping everything and traveling 12 miles to see the famous preacher lecture.