Understanding & Surviving Boston Church Life in September
Church life in Boston is extremely unique. Boston is a very academic, secular place with a hard spiritual climate - which are all reasons why I love being a pastor here! But, another characteristic of Boston is the extreme transience. Every September, Boston welcomes thousands upon thousands of new people to the area. In terms of visitors to our church, every week in September is kind of like Easter in Boston. We have so many new visitors, and we have to be on top of our game with welcoming new people.
And while it’s fun to have so many new people to the area, it’s often challenging to say goodbye to friends so regularly and to make room for new people in our community. The perpetual transience got so difficult for my family that we had to quit going to goodbye parties a few years ago. Saying goodbye is so emotionally exhausting. And welcoming new people is relationally exhausting. So as we enter into this time of welcoming guests, I want to offer some of you some encouragements and guidance.
- Accept that transience is the reality. And read this blog by our friend Adam Mabry at Aletheia Church - The Gospel for the Relationally Exhausted.
- The gospel compels us to love everyone around us. Aren’t we ALL only here for a season, until then the Lord will call us home.
- If you’re committed to stay in Boston for a while, make some close friends who are also committed to stay. Invest in those relationships and don’t neglect them. But leave a few “relational slots” open for more transient friends. You’d be missing out on a lot of great friendships if you only invested in a few friends who were only here for a season.
- While we may have a lot of guests, we are NOT competing with other gospel-believing churches. Some people are going to visit 7 solid churches this Fall, and that’s OK. The important thing is that they end up plugging into one of those solid churches.
- Some people are going to visit our church who are lonely and just looking for friends. As the body of Christ, we need to be as hospitable and loving as we can. Let’s reflect the love of God for these people and love them with open arms. And some people may give up their church search more quickly than others. Some people may only visit one church this Fall, and their impression from that church will dictate if they ever return to a church again. This is why we have to be super intentional to welcome people.
So how can we be more hospitable?
- Park as far away as possible. Our lot is getting full every Sunday and it’s still the summer. Treat September like Easter and make room for other folks. If you have kids, please park close. But otherwise, park around the corner!
- SERVE ONE / ATTEND ONE - We have a lot of needs right now to even pull off a Sunday. Did you know that it takes about 45 volunteers each Sunday to pull off the service (and that’s not counting setup/teardown!). There are people who wake up early to make coffee, but not enough people. There are people who run sound, play in the band, teach kids, welcome newcomers, count money, video-record the sermon, and many other things. And we need more people to help! Check out the newly designed volunteer page, it has specific needs listed, and signup to help!
- Pastor Fletcher