When Community Rises

Being a pastor in a semi-rural community can be a challenge.  Let me explain.

When you work in rural communities, there is a natural feeling of "family" that tends to pervade the region.  Everyone knows everyone.  There is a good chance that you went to school with every single person around you that falls within your age bracket.

Working in urban areas, there is somewhat of an "activist" mentality that causes neighbors to join together in unity against threats such as poverty and crime.  You find yourself intentionally getting involved, to curb the tide of what could arise without you.

But the "semi-" communities of suburbs and commuter villages, that's a different story. 

People in semi-regions experience the safety of the rural area, but they spend most of their days driving to the urban centers, encountering people that live several zip codes from them.  There is a void where that sense of "family" would be for most rural towns, but there is enough safety to prevent people from feeling the need to become more active.  Some may nod their head at their neighbors and shoot some bull, but for the most part, the semi-rural prefers their isolation.  

Hence my challenge as a pastor.

I spend my days attempting to break people out of their homemade prisons and welcoming them into the family that is the Body of Christ.  My church team presents the idea that we can be a family that helps those that need help and loves those that need love, but a lot of people don't feel that same burden.  As a result, many in our bedroom community of La Grange feel alone and unwelcome in their own homes.

Every once in a while, though...

The community rises.

There is an organization called Mission Crestwood that operated out of a storage unit in, you guessed it, Crestwood, KY.  They spend their days providing food, clothing and shelter needs to those within a three county radius that need help.  With the opium epidemic in full swing, these needs are greater than you could imagine.  Our Real Family Church got involved with Mission Crestwood in early 2017 and its been a wonderful experience.

Mission Crestwood is no longer in the storage unit.  They have moved to a permanent facility in La Grange, KY (and been renamed the the less-territorial, High Point Ministries).  In the process of doing that, people and churches from around Oldham County chipped in to help with remodeling the new building and moving all the operations.

When community rises, great things happen.

We've been told that High Point is going to fill 400 Thanksgiving boxes for people in the area.  Our church will be providing food items to put in those boxes (Stove Top Stuffing, my favorite).  People's lives will be changed because of this community.

When community rises, needs are met.

On Tuesday, November 7th, Real Family will be hosting a Build-A-Shoebox event to benefit Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse that provides Christmas gifts to children in need around the world.  Already, we are hearing from businesses and persons in the area that are preparing shoeboxes for distribution.  Not only that, people are asking what they can do to help the event.  They want to get involved in helping kids.

When community rises, it is contagious.

There are more opportunities than these to help others in the La Grange area.  These just happen to be the ones we are involved in over the next few weeks.  Let's pray for our community and seek out ways to help other people.  The challenge of semi-rural is real, but through a bit of compassion and setting aside a little time, our little community can rise to the occasion.

"12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." - John 15:12-13

Matt Monyhan

Matt Monyhan is the Lead Pastor of Real Family Church. He has been in ministry for almost 2 decades and is a husband and father of 2 sons.