Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. - Jeremiah 29:4-7
There is no one I know personally who has built a more enduring neighborhood legacy than my pastor, Bob. When Bob was a young man he built a small “church-on-the-corner” congregation of a couple dozen into a church of a couple hundred. This was not an easy task in a farming community in Nova Scotia, most of whom just picked the closest church to their house. He and his family moved to the United States and became fully naturalized, integrating into the small town in Maine that they settled. Bob and his son Todd founded a church 25 years ago as co-equal lead pastors. Then, as if that wasn’t already enough community outreach, Bob doubled down. He served several terms on the city council and then ran for the Maine State legislature. He was elected to be the people’s representative…three times! He brought his love of Christ with him to the state house and earned the respect of some very unexpected people, all the while never missing a Sunday service at the church he was pastoring. Bob is now in his 80’s, has four generations of his family living in the same town, and the church he founded has grown by 25% in the last two years when many churches in the area have decreased attendance and closed.
What makes Bob’s story so impressive to me is that his legacy is not great in spite of his neighborhood, it’s great because of his engagement with it. The prophet Jeremiah said to the people of God in exile, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Every step of the way, Bob’s story reflects a man’s dedication to making his church, his town and his state better. And now his son and grandson are continuing his work, and his great grandchildren are growing up in the church he built and in a town their family has served and loved for generations.
Daily Battle Order:
Where you live is not a hindrance…it is a mission field. When you invest in your neighborhood, it’s not for you. It’s for them! Their welfare is your welfare. Identify where you can build a legacy in your neighborhood by finding something that you can make better. Do it, and teach others to do the same where they are.