In a trivia contest for the church with the biggest safe, my money would be on Park Street Church along the Boston Common. Many of their offices and meeting rooms are in a former bank which sold to a publisher and in turn sold to the church many years ago. So they have two huge vaults. No, they don’t store money inside, but rather the archives of the historic 199-year-old congregation. Back when the church formed, there were only 16 other churches in Boston and the city’s population was 33,000. Within a few years, the small congregation had raised initial funding and constructed a meeting house that seated over 800! Total campus size is still just under half an acre.
Today Park Street is far more than a Freedom Trail landmark — it’s a thriving congregation with a worldwide impact in evangelism and missions. Approximately 2,000 adults and children attend each Sunday.
If their old-time bank vault did store money, it wouldn’t stay there long. Park Street gives lots of money away — 40% of it to missions, in fact. One of the first churches to send out missionaries from America, Park Street continues its strong commitment to Christ’s Great Commission today. Their missionary outreach ranges from Boston itself (ministries to the homeless, international students and more) to sending short-term teams to providing full support to a number of missionaries.
Park Street was this week’s stop as Scott Thumma and I continue our twelve-city series of in-depth study visits to large churches. Check out the previous blogs from Living Hope in greater Portland, OR, Living Hope — Baptisms, Baptisms, Baptisms; Austin Stone in Austin, TX, Finding New Real Estate at Church; and Hosanna! in Minneapolis, MN, Valuing Kids at Church, Here’s How to Work with My Strengths, and Advice from Social Agencies: Go to this Church!. Our next stop is Vineyard Church of Columbus, OH. Any predictions of what we’ll learn there?
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 19 books on various aspects of church health and innovation.