Longing to see Laconia, NH so alive with the Gospel of Jesus that our schools, our businesses, our families, and our churches radiate his love and truth into our region and beyond!
Sounds good, but how do we get there?
If you were born and raised in central NH you would likely have spent your working years employed by someone you knew and worked along-side. Big Box companies had little say in the local economy. Instead the goods and services which fueled the town and kept the local economy moving were provided by local merchants and their small businesses. As an example, in Laconia, NH today there is a 4th generation Dutile & Son’s Oil & Coal Company which the Dutile family is running. Their great-grandfather started it, who passed it onto his son, who passed it onto his sons, who are now passing it onto their sons (the great-grandsons). They have provided Oil and Coal to Laconia residents for 4 generations now. NH is made up of many such pioneer people who did things on their own and made their own way.
At first, as with any small town or upcoming city, neighbors provide essential services (like oil & coal) to their neighbors because in doing so it blesses and meets the needs of their neighbors. Their vocations function as their personal ministries to the Lord. Their work is their service both to God and man just as spiritual instruction is the Pastor's service to God and man. However, when prosperity results from the services provided, we are then tempted to engage in economically productive activity to make money and not to serve our neighbors. Work now becomes about how we can get what we want from our neighbors instead of how we can love God by serving our neighbors through our vocations.
Similarly, when prosperity increases community recreations take on a different form as well. The original purpose of recreation (baseball, football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.) was different than what it is today. I think of the movie, The Sandlot. Did the group of boys in The Sandlot get together every day during the summer to play baseball because they were looking to get a college scholarship and one day be famous? Were they using the game of baseball for self-advancement or selfish gain? No. They were friends and they wanted to be together. Playing baseball was something they collectively enjoyed doing and it helped them foster friendship further. It also helped them learn to work together toward a common goal- a lesson very important for pioneer people. If perchance one boy became famous because of his ability to play baseball, that was secondary and not the goal of the game. The goal of the game was to foster friendships through mutual enjoyment and to learn to work together toward a common end.
If a community continues to take their eyes off of Jesus then over time even their educational system changes. In the beginning of town life, education was about training the human spirit. It was about preparing young men and women to be selfless contributors to society. Men learned and became skilled in the professions which most benefited the community. Women likewise. But take our eyes off of Jesus and education becomes about acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to move up in the world. Education transforms from a means to grow the human spirit into the image of her Creator to the means of gaining power and wealth in the world. Not all fall into this trap of course. However we must recognize the trend.
When community members take their eyes off of Jesus their vocations mutate, their recreations develop selfish ends, and their educational system loses focus. At first these societal shifts satisfy our desires for temporal satisfactions. For a while we are convinced we are living the good life. But over a couple generations tangible consequences begin to bloat;
We neglect the all-important character development of our children and no longer “train them up in the way they should go” (Prov.22:6).
Our young people grow up to pursue what is best for themselves instead of what is best for the family and community of which they are a part.
Our parents live lonely, isolated lives
Our elderly are devalued as we favor youth and the ability to produce wealth over wisdom, righteousness and truth.
And our souls wander away from the Lord and into eternal destruction because we have made self-gratification the goal of our life’s activity instead of the glory of God.
We believe we are at a time in our city’s history where we must ask with all seriousness, “How did we get here, and how do we get out of here?” The answer we believe is simple;
We got here as we made something other than Jesus our first love, and
We get out of here by surrendering everything to Jesus once again.
It is our fervent desire to see Laconia, NH so alive with the Gospel of Jesus again that our schools, our businesses, our families and our churches radiate His love and truth into our region and beyond! How will this come to pass? It will come to pass as we intentionally surrender everything to Jesus once again; our schools, our businesses, our families and our churches.
Surrendering everything to Jesus begins with what the Bible calls repentance and belief. "Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”" (Mark 1:15). Repentance is an alteration of the mind, a giving-up of one's will, and a commitment to change direction. Repentance is followed by belief...which is simply repentance in practical action. Followers of Jesus are those who hear His voice and respond; they repent and believe.