SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Christ Community Church in Shelbyville is aptly named because serving the Lord through the community is their niche.
They can be found every fourth Sunday loving the Shelbyville community outside the church walls. It could be patching a basketball court in a tough part of town, packing bags in a crisis pregnancy center, building beds for those who have no place to lay their heads or putting together backpacks for children.
You name it, they do it.
Pastor Blake Lawyer says it has been part of the church’s history since it was formed in 2010. “We get outside the building and serve,” he said. “It’s not for everybody. Some people can’t get over that we’re doing that on a Sunday. That’s part of our DNA. It’s not optional.”
On those fourth Sundays of the month, members come with their sleeves rolled up ready to work. They partner with nonprofits in most cases and often make new friendships and have gospel conversations.
“A lot of times we’re not witnessing to the people we’re serving but the people we’re serving with,” Lawyer said. “We talk about learning the story of somebody you’re serving with today. It becomes a real invitation opportunity.”
Christ Community Church started with the idea of doing projects about twice a year, then it became quarterly and now it has become once a month when they intentionally go outside their own walls to serve the area.
On that Sunday, they arrive around 10 a.m., gather assignments for the day, have a short devotional and head to the project with enthusiasm etched on their faces. Some stay behind to pray and write letters through a pen-pal ministry with the prison.
“We definitely don’t see all of our people on those Sundays,” he said. “We see some people we don’t see on normal Sundays. The Lord breaks people’s hearts.”
The spirit of working together in the name of the Lord is present throughout the ministry times, he said.
“Several (church) members are on staff at nonprofits,” Lawyer said. “It has become a real mission activity with the expectation they take that next step. The fruit that God has allowed us to see is the most encouraging piece. The Lord sometimes uses that as a launch pad for other ministry.”
They spend time in worship too and often combine the experience like they did in July with Centennial Baptist Church, a traditional African-American assembly. They worked in a part of Shelbyville known as “the black neighborhood” and started a project where they rebuilt a basketball court in disrepair.
They invited Centennial to lead a worship service in their building which Lawyer said turned into a “pretty cool” experience as well. “It was a really good day. We served alongside each other and worshipped as well.”
Lawyer became the pastor in 2013 and he has followed the foundational principles of the church. Pre-COVID they were sending between 150 and 170 to serve. Since COVID, he said they average about 75 going to work on the projects in front of them.
“We’ve had some people tell us after they saw what we did, they had to try it out,” Lawyer said.
Some of the projects are heartbreakers and tearjerkers, like bringing a bed into a home for a child who has never had one through a ministry called A Place to Sleep. “We’re in people’s homes at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning setting up beds for people’s kids,” he said. “We haven’t found a community yet that doesn’t need beds.”
They have also provided freezer meals for families who have someone in their home fighting childhood cancer and jammed backpacks with food for children who don’t have much at home. The list of service goes on and on and they do it all for the sake of the gospel.
The vision for the church can be found in Hebrews 13:12-13: “…Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood. Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.”
Lawyer is leading the church toward the vision of Hebrews 13:14. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
That vision includes some church planting, which Christ Community has already done twice in 2016. The goal is to make disciples, lead groups and begin churches and reach the community one person at a time.
“There’s very much a go-getter spirit,” Lawyer said. “Katelyn, my wife, and I thank the Lord for being part of it.”