3800 people every month.
According to a conversation with a contact at the Boise DMV, thats how many people they process into the area each month. They estimate about 4000 people move to Boise every month. It’s a staggering number; about 50,000 people a year, into a community that is 230,000 in city limits, and about 750,000 in the metro area.
Boise has been a growing community for the last decade, but the recent spike in growth has caught everyone a bit by surprise. The Mayor has held community workshops on growth, as they grapple with the influx of newcomers. They discuss how does this affects: infrastructure, housing, public services, schools, and community life.
We were surprised and ecstatic to discover the exponential growth of Boise. Boise has been on our heart for years; this massive growth is going to offer opportunities and challenges for planting a church. However, Boise and the people who live there have been on our heart for years now. This was not the true reason we felt called to Boise.
“It’s hard not to speak in clichés when your heart pulls in a direction you’re not ready for.”
A few years ago, a husband and wife, who are friends of mine, were called to plant a church. He and I had a few conversations about what was on his heart. When we talked, Boise was on his short list of places to plant. He threw out a soft invite for our family to join his, and I returned with a polite midwest Christian “You never know where God may lead” . It’s hard not to speak in clichés when your heart pulls in a direction you’re not ready for.
I have no idea what it was about our conversation or the word ‘Boise’, but something shifted in my mind. My wife and I had this realization that if they went to Boise, we needed to seriously consider going with them. Yet, my friends ended up going east instead. I knew the draw I felt, was not to go with them, but to a place.
We had never been to Boise. We didn’t know anyone from the area. We had to double check what state it was in. All that to say, Boise had no reason to pull at us, and we had no business to feel this attraction to go there. So, when our friends did not go, we quietly pushed all those simmering thoughts and emotions away. I had obligations and ministries to tend to, and I had been on staff at the church for a year. I knew God placed me at the church, so is didn’t make sense to move. Obviously, it was God’s set up for the long game.
He planted this fire in our lives, motivating us for this next step long before he ready for us to act on them. We didn’t feel disobedient to God’s call, when we chose not to pursue our friends on their church planting mission. Nor did we feel disobedient when we didn't pursue options to leave for Boise at that time. The time wasn’t right. God still had a lot of work to see in us before we left for Boise.
In the spring of 2018, my wife and I planned a trip to explore the Pacific Northwest that June. We felt called to plant a church and had finally said yes. We were working with our denomination to decide where. In our conversations about potential cities, Boise kept coming up, and we kept pushing back. Maybe it's because all the cool kids collected in Oregon and Washington. Perhaps it was all the potato jokes from my brothers. We tried to use several excuses not to keep Boise on our list. It is a time zone and a mountain range away from the coast. We have connections in Portland and Seattle. There are other Wesleyan pastors close enough to meet for lunch if we stayed closer to the coast, however Boise still called.
That June, we drove through the Columbia Plateau. We had spent the previous days exploring Tri-Cities Washington as Erica and I pursued the question of ‘Where’. Where do we plant this church God has called us to. Where do we raise our two boys. Where our new home - our potential permanent home would be.
Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, Washington had been great, we met wonderful people, but we didn’t feel at ease. We tried force ourselves to embrace it; but we knew it wasn’t right. We loaded our luggage into our rented Nissan Versa, brushed elbows on the single narrow armrest between our seats, and made our way to through the Blue Mountains.
Driving into Boise was surreal. We drove into the Treasure Valley region, dropped into the downtown area and something clicked. We unpacked our luggage and started exploring downtown. It felt like every person we met led to conversation, and every conversation hammered Boise into our hearts. We knew were called here. We spent a few more days in the area, exploring the surrounding communities and connecting with pastors to understand the communities’ personality. In the end, Boise was going to be our new home.
“When God calls, we need to go.”
Being Christ followers, we were willing to lean into where God led us. It wasn't always comfortable, and it was stretching. However, we realized a few lessons. One, if you accomplish God's call on our own power and self reliance, there was need to re-examine the call. Second, caution is important. Plotting out the ramifications of decisions is crucial. Third, when God calls, we need to go.
It was never our intention to move the family 1300 miles away from grandparents. My heart did not desire to start a church with no connections or network. I never imagined asking people to uproot their families and move with me without guarantee of success. I didn't feel qualified, but I knew one absolute to be truth.
I am Called.
For my family and I, that means moving to Boise to start Gathering 208.
If you want to know more about Gathering 208 and where you can give support, check out our website at:
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