The county that I live in and the church that I pastor is in Forsyth County, Georgia. Forsyth county is a bedroom community of Atlanta, just north of the city. Forsyth County has been placed on a national list. Forbes magazine listed Forsyth County, GA as the 13th richest county in America. (America’s Richest Counties – Forbes.com)
Here is an excerpt from our entry on the list:
Forsyth County has a median income of $83,682. Georgia isn’t one of the country’s biggest states, but it is made up of more counties than any other. The result? Counties post specific demographics. Take Forsyth. It’s a part of the Atlanta metropolitan area, but the median household pulls in $33,000 more a year than neighboring Fulton County.
What does that mean for our church, Big Creek Church and churches in our community? What does it mean for all churches who find themselves in suburban counties of wealth and affluence? With all that wealth in this county we shouldn’t have any problems, correct? People in Forsyth County and in the suburbs should be free from any needs, right? Of course not.
Certainly in an affluent county like Forsyth, it is harder to assess the needs. They don’t seem as obvious and readily apparent, but the needs are HERE and they are REAL.
If we are willing to look we will find those in need.
To often the needs hide in the shadows and in the margins of the suburbs. If you have ever ministered to people with physical needs in the suburbs, you’ve discovered that those with needs are usually not out in the open. They are often hidden away and out of sight. It requires us to be intentional and to design opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ to needy families and children in the suburbs. (There was an article in the AJC newspaper called Homelessness in the Suburbs. This article wasn’t about our county in particular but rather concerning a neighboring county…but it nevertheless highlights my main point that even among the wealth, comfort and affluence of the suburbs, there hides among us great need and hopelessness.)
If we are willing to listen we can minister to those in need.
Even our neighbors who live among us, in our very own neighborhoods are in great need. Behind the manicured lawns and the white picket fences are people unleashing a silent scream of pain. They are screaming in pain over broken marriages, fractured relationships with their children, and loneliness. Many are trying to anesthetize their pain with busyness, drugs, alcohol or internet pornography.
Are we willing to get into the lives of our neighbors and love and listen to them? I believe that they are giving us many clues to their need and brokenness but too often we, ourselves, get caught up in our own busyness, that we fail to take moments to invest time with them. Many times all it takes is a willingness to stop talking and just be willing to listen and care.
Forsyth County and counties like it, may be affluent and rich, but it won’t ever be truly rich until people surrender to the love of Jesus. God has called His Church to be a lighthouse of love to those who broken, battered and bruised by life.
Certainly the challenge is real, but as Christ followers we have a wealth of opportunities to show people Jesus in the suburbs by allowing them to see the power of the gospel in our own lives.