By Kevin Carrothers

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series on cross-cultural ministry, taken from a round table discussion between four Illinois pastors and leaders. Click here to read more from their conversation, published in the September 29 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper. 

kevin-carrothersKevin Carrothers is pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church and president of IBSA. He will deliver the president’s message Wednesday, Nov. 2, during the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicagoland. The theme of the meeting is “Cross-Culture.”

On being an influential church
I was a couple of years into my ministry in Rochester when I sat down with a leader in town. I asked him, “What do you think about when you hear Rochester First Baptist Church? What comes to mind?” His words weren’t really a rebuke, but I didn’t like what he said. He said “You’re a nice little church.”

Well, we are a small church, unapologetically a small church, but that was his perception, a “nice little church.” Now, hopefully that has changed since then. Now, we’re “the church that does the party” (our annual fall festival). Or we’re the church that does VBS in the summer in a way that spreads the gospel to our community.

We don’t have to be the biggest church but we can still be the most influential church.

I don’t want to just be the nice little church, but we are still little. The word that I want is influence. We don’t have to be the biggest church but we can still be the most influential church.

On ‘incarnational’ ministry
God was incarnational with us—he sent Jesus to live among people. Likewise, we need to be incarnational. Sometimes I think that’s where we kind of miss the boat in the church. We think we have to come up with a new program or a new ministry. Instead, let’s find out who is doing something and go be involved in that.

For me personally, being incarnational is volunteering at my kid’s school. On my day off, I spend a couple hours at the schools and have a presence there. That makes an impact. It’s coaching Little League or youth basketball. You’re there with people. Then, you have to be intentional about making sure the gospel becomes known, about making sure that they know this is who you are.

It gets back to all the things we have been talking about. Cross-culturally we have to love our community; we have to show them that we care. We have to go where they are.

By John Yi

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series on cross-cultural ministry, taken from a round table discussion between four Illinois pastors and leaders. Click here to read more from their conversation, published in the September 29 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper. 

john-yiJohn Yi is IBSA’s second-generation church planting catalyst in Chicago, founder of a community ministry in Maywood, and a leader at Bethel SBC, a church plant in Mt. Prospect. Visit John at the virtual vision tour sponsored by the IBSA Church Planting Team during the IBSA Annual Meeting Nov. 2-3 at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicagoland.

On living where you serve
I think my wife and I always knew that once we got to the place where we would set down our roots ministry, we would have to live in the community where we were going to do our work.

We were not going to be commuting. That was something we had both experienced in our young adult years—traveling to go to church. In fact, until we lived in Maywood and started our ministry there, I don’t think I had ever lived and gone to church in the same town.

…the sacrifice might mean having to pull up your roots and go to a place that feels very uncomfortable and unnatural to you.

We lost some other comforts in the move too. A lot of our friends are away from us too.  We were distant from the people with whom we felt comfortable.

On becoming a community church
We still live in Maywood. And in the years since our move there, we’ve learned the sacrifices were worth it. I think in order to be cross-cultural, there has to be a weighing of what is not necessary for the sake of ministry. We have done that at our church, Bethel SBC, too. Part of us wanting to become a community church means we really have to become less Korean.

In Korean churches it is almost a universal practice to have a lunch fellowship after the worship service and it is almost always Korean food. When I first proposed not doing Korean food anymore, there was an uproar. I’m like, “Why can’t we just do sandwiches or order pizza once in a while, or do spaghetti and meatballs?”  That’s how it was at the beginning, but now I can’t even remember the last time we had a Korean meal at church.  Our members have really taken to this idea that we really have to make it more accessible. We want to get rid of all the barriers, and I think that is one of the sacrifices we have to sometimes make.

And sometimes, the sacrifice might mean having to pull up your roots and go to a place that feels very uncomfortable and unnatural to you.  We know missionaries do that all the time when they go to a foreign country, but when you weigh the value of the gospel and the Kingdom of God, I think sometimes those things that seemed so important to us start to lose their luster.

By Adron Robinson

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series on cross-cultural ministry, taken from a round table discussion between four Illinois pastors and leaders. Click here to read more from their conversation, published in the September 29 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper. 

adron-robinsonAdron Robinson is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills and vice president of IBSA. He will deliver the annual sermon on Thursday, Nov. 3, during the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicagoland. The theme of the meeting is “Cross-Culture.”

On finding an identity
Every church is going to be “that” church. People are going to say that’s the church that does this, or that church does that. As leaders, we need to get out front in defining what our church is going to be known for. John 13:35 just comes to mind: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Your church needs to be known for showing your community God’s love in some way.

Your church needs to be known for showing your community God’s love in some way.

I grew up next door to a church. The church’s driveway was right in between it and the house where I was raised. Growing up, I thought the driveway was ours because we never saw church people until Sunday. On Sunday, they would come in and park on the street and fill up the driveway. They would be in the building all day and you would hear the music, but the rest of the week, the building was empty.

The church was just “that” church next door. When they came around on Sunday, they were “those” church people.  The complaint among the neighbors was that they took up all our parking. Other than that, they had no interaction whatsoever with the block, not to mention the rest of the community.

On engaging your community
Churches can do a great service to their community just by being good neighbors, and engaging people around them. Go be a coach, or just be a parent watching your kids play on a local sports team. Let people see the love of Christ in you. You don’t have to always be carrying a big Bible around, but just get to know people and start the relationships and let your love for the Lord be seen amid those interactions. You do much more for the gospel that way.

I think we try to reinvent the wheel too much. The community is already gathering together; go to those areas and take the gospel with you.

The BriefingVideo gambling’s big in Illinois
Add up all the video gambling machines scattered in small venues across Illinois — there are more than 24,000 machines, the equivalent of 20 casinos — and you’re talking real money. The amount of money left over after paying video gambling winners for the first time exceeded $1 billion in fiscal 2016. That’s a 27% increase, making video gambling the hot hand in Illinois’ gaming industry.

Liberty students rebel
Now, Liberty students are opposing their leader’s presidential endorsement, writing in a Washington Post opinion piece, “In January, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump for president of the United States. As Liberty students, we watched as the leader of our school loudly and proudly advocated for a man many of us felt compelled to oppose. Trump’s flagrant dishonesty, consistent misogyny and boastful unrepentance made many of us feel the need to publicly express disagreement with President Falwell’s endorsement.

Refugees resettled at record rate
Last month, World Relief nearly doubled the number of refugees it resettles in the United States in a typical month. In the past 12 months, the evangelical agency handled a caseload of 9,759 refugees—its largest total since 1999. The milestone comes at the same time as major setbacks to the effort to ban Syrian refugee resettlement in Indiana and Texas.

State must fund Planned Parenthood
A federal judge Thursday blocked a Mississippi law that prohibited Medicaid payments to any healthcare provider that offers abortions. Two Planned Parenthood affiliates filed suit against the law, which blocked all Medicaid funding, including payments for non-abortion services such as birth control, to any facility affiliated with an abortion provider.

U.N. to appoint LGBT advocate
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender agenda is gaining traction at the United Nations, as it organization prepares to vote on appointing an “independent expert” to “assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination.”

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Christianity Today, World Magazine, Baptist Press

The Faith Frontier

ib2newseditor —  October 24, 2016 — Leave a comment

Illinois has come a long way, but we still have a way to go

Illinois IL State United States of America 3d Animated State Map

When Illinois became a state in 1818, fewer than 100 people lived in Chicago, and less than that at Calhoun. The hubs of activity were places such as Kaskaskia, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The town swelled to 7,000 when it became the first state capital for one year. Then bustling Vandalia was the capital for 20 years, until Abraham Lincoln and a few others had the capital moved to Calhoun in 1839. Calhoun had been renamed after Springfield, Massachusetts, a center of trade, creativity, and innovation. They had high hopes for their new Springfield—and for all of Illinois.

Catholic priests came to the area early, following French trappers and traders into St. Louis and later Chicago, building a few churches and converting a few Native Americans. The trappers were largely unconverted. Baptists and some Methodists were on scene by 1781, starting the first Protestant congregation in Illinois and building a Baptist meeting house at New Design, across from St. Louis on the river.

Illinois was a frontier state 200 years ago. Today, in many ways, it still is.

Almost 13 million people live in Illinois. But in terms of faith, the state is wild and untamed. At least 8 million residents do not know Jesus Christ. As the population grows, the percentage who identify with any religion at all continues to decline.

The state’s population hubs are our largest mission fields, especially metro Chicago and metro East St. Louis. Our cities are teeming centers of commerce and education, with growing populations of immigrant peoples.

The last census showed Hispanic and Asian populations are the fastest growing ethnic groups in the state. In fact, the Hispanic population grew in all but one of Illinois’ 102 counties.

In Illinois, nine people groups are unreached with the gospel because of language and cultural barriers, but literally millions of English-speaking and culturally mainstream people have never heard the message of salvation in a way they have understood and believed.

On our college campuses, for example, almost 900,000 students represent a mission field with enormous potential, and historically the lowest percentage of believers among young adults ever.

The cultural withdrawal from the Christian faith is felt all across Illinois—in cities and university settings, in small towns and crossroads communities. The northwest quadrant of Illinois is one of the least-Christian areas in the nation. And scattered across the state, there are nine counties that have no Southern Baptist congregation, 12 counties have only one, and many more have minimal evangelical presence.

In 40% of Illinois counties, less than 1% of the population identifies as Southern Baptist.

By faithful, regular, systematic giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, Baptists together serve as missions pioneers, in our frontier territory in Illinois and around the world, wherever the gospel is needed.

Seminary president to present cross-cultural message

jeff-iorgJeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be in Chicagoland to help IBSA Annual Meeting attenders interpret the gathering’s “Cross-Cultural” theme.

Now in his thirteenth year as seminary president, Iorg said his time in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the seminary was headquartered until it relocated south this year, taught him how widespread is the need for the gospel—even as cultural barriers abound.

“I learned the gospel is needed everywhere, no matter the cultural choices which may be offensive or challenging to our faith,” Iorg said. “It’s easy to get sidetracked on lesser issues, but the gospel is still our primary message.”

Through theme interpretations during the meeting and the annual Wednesday evening worship service, Iorg will speak on why and how Christians are called to cross cultural boundaries for the sake of the gospel.

Prior to his time at Gateway (known until this year as Golden Gate Theological Seminary prior to its relocation to the greater Los Angeles area), Iorg has also served as a pastor, church planter, and executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, headquartered in Washington state. For 10 years, he was chaplain for the San Francisco Giants. (Fun fact: Iorg is the proud recipient of three World Series rings.)

He is the author of six books, including “The New Marriage Culture” and “The Case for Antioch,” which focuses on how the early church model applies to modern churches seeking to transform their communities.

At the Annual Meeting, Iorg will explore how cultural shifts affect the means by which Christians take the gospel to people who don’t know Christ.

“Baptists and other evangelicals should aspire to share the gospel with every person, in every culture, by every means possible,” Iorg told the Illinois Baptist. “The inclusiveness and expansiveness of the Great Commission are both non-negotiable.

“We need to recapture both the vision and the passion for getting the gospel to every person in the world.”

Religious leaders slam Clinton campaign over e-mails
Catholic and evangelical groups slammed Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a statement over comments revealed in the WikiLeaks emails hack between two high-level campaign officials. Dozens of religious leaders who signed the statement expressed their “outrage at the demeaning and troubling rhetoric used by those within Secretary Clinton’s campaign.”

Pro-lifers grieve Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) observed its centennial with an event at the City Hall of New York and the launch of #100Years Strong, a year-long celebration marked by more than 150 community events around the world. PPFA’s affiliates perform more than 320,000 abortions a year at the same time the organization and its affiliates receive about $550 million annually in government grants and reimbursements

Court rules against pregnancy centers
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California law AB 775, which compels Christian, pro-life pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, doesn’t impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs.

Churches sue over state’s ‘anti-bias’ law
Four Massachusetts churches and their pastors filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in October in an attempt to halt application of a newly amended state law requiring pastors to temper their speech and churches to allow transgender persons to use the bathroom of their choice.

CoverGirl introduces its first Cover Boy
CoverGirl announced James Charles Dickinson as its latest ambassador —the first young man to receive such an honor. It’s the first major drugstore makeup brand to choose a male for its brand ambassador.

Sources: CNN, Baptist Press, The Federalist, Baptist Press, Yahoo