Charles River Church: A focus on discipleship

  Charles River Church Baptism

Josh Wyatt baptizes Sherdain, who was led to Christ through Charles River Church.

When church planter Josh Wyatt first met Boston resident Sherdain, it was at her home on Washington Street. A resident of the low-income housing project that Wyatt and his team had recently decided to sponsor, Sherdain was unemployed and hardened by her struggle to make ends meet. She attended a resume building seminar hosted by Wyatt’s team in her complex with the hope that she might come away with a better chance at finding a job. What she got was so much more.

“After that seminar, we stuck with Sherdain,” Wyatt recalls. “We walked with her as she applied for jobs and tried to get back on her feet, and slowly, the walls started to come down.”

Eventually, Sherdain came to faith in Christ. Baptized by Wyatt, she now serves in leading children’s ministry events at her complex on Washington Street, hoping to lead other families to faith just as she was.

Sherdain’s is just one of the hearts in and around the Boston metro area that Wyatt and his team are reaching through Charles River Church. Started just two years ago, they have already developed a strong discipleship community, seeing 23 professions of faith since they opened their doors. This type of response is unique for a city like Boston. The majority of the population is transient, making it difficult for churches to see any sort of long-term commitment. The city boasts a large community of well-educated, young professionals, many of whom bear the weight of past hurts and hang ups in regards to the Christian faith.

“We have found that people are really frank with their beliefs and disbeliefs here,” Wyatt says. “But we love that. We love the honesty of the people in our city in regards to the Christian faith. Even when it’s negative, it’s still a starting point.”

This culture is a far cry from the Bible-saturated South where Wyatt was raised. Growing up in a suburb just outside of Atlanta, Ga., opportunities to be involved in church were abundant for Wyatt. Part of a church plant meeting in his high school, Josh’s eyes were opened to the missional nature of church planting.

“I was deeply impacted by this young church and its commitment to missions,” he recalls. “It was the first time I saw how God can use a strategic new work to really impact an entire region.”

After developing a growing burden for underserved areas like the Northeast while in college, Wyatt and his wife, Becky, were asked to be a part of a new church plant in Princeton, Mass. Seven years later, the Wyatts made the decision to step out on faith and put down roots in Boston by planting Charles River Church.

“It was God’s providence that let us serve in Princeton first. He gave us seven years of fruitful ministry and preparation. I was able to acclimate to the culture and learn the needs of the area firsthand. When Boston began growing heavy on our hearts, we knew we had to go. If we wanted to impact the region, the best place to start was the hub.”

Wyatt and his team at Charles River Church are working diligently to reach the hub of New England with the gospel of Christ. Slowly but surely, they are working to evangelize the city of Boston, encouraging members of their church to connect in discipleship wherever they may be.

“We really have this vision that the members of our church will seek out their own personal ministries and it may not be things like being a greeter or a group leader,” Wyatt explains. “Their personal ministry may be unique relationships with neighbors on their block or with the small group of people they work with in their offices. It could be a mom’s group they attend outside of work or the group of families they see every week at soccer practice. We are asking our people to commit and invest deeply in those relationships because that’s what it will take to lead the people of Boston back to Christ.”

Wyatt is encouraging the members of Charles River Church to think missionally, not just in the city of Boston but also for the entire New England area.

“We want to become a church that serves as a training ground for church planters, eventually sending out church planters and teams out all over New England. We have a vision not to build up our own little kingdom here but to see the kingdom of God built in Boston, New England, and, truly, all over the world.”

For more on Josh Wyatt and Charles River Church, visit

Sara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board and covers the Northeast Region. 

Date Created: 9/13/2012 6:28:41 PM

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