This month two important committees will meet at the IBSA Building here in Springfield. Each typically meets only once per year, but when their jobs are done well, hours of preparation and follow up buttress those single meetings.
I’m referring to the IBSA Committee on Committees and the IBSA Nominating Committee. And it’s those hours of prayerful preparation prior to the meetings that deserve the attention and involvement of every one of us that understands what it takes for a thousand Baptist churches to work together here in Illinois.
You see, when IBSA churches cooperate, they give more than $6 million annually through the Cooperative Program, and they steward more than $9 million in annual resources through the IBSA budget. They provide a staff of around 40 to assist churches throughout the state in hundreds of different ways, and provide funding for dozens of church planters and other missions personnel.
Each year those churches provide the services of the Baptist Foundation of Illinois, and of Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. They facilitate the operations of two statewide camps. They determine how much of their missions giving should go to the ministries of the national Southern Baptist Convention and how much should go to work here in Illinois.
And while the above only scratches the surface of their financial stewardship, IBSA churches work together to steward much more than money. They also steward the doctrinal and missional criteria for what it means to be a faithful, cooperating IBSA church. They set the riverbanks for how member churches will work together procedurally. They both preserve our history and seek to protect our future.
I could write much, much more about all our churches do together, but the more I would write, the more the question would emerge, “How do they do all that? How do a thousand diverse, geographically dispersed, busy churches of all sizes and styles work together to accomplish so much?”
As unglamorous or even mundane as it may sound, the answer to those questions, and the genius of how so many diverse churches are able to work together, is rooted in responsibilities like those of the Committee on Committees and the Nominating Committee. Year in and year out, these committees select trustworthy leaders who work within well-established processes to facilitate the near-miracle of cooperative missions among autonomous Baptist churches.
Have you guessed yet the point, the appeal, toward which I’m writing? This Great Commission system of cooperative missions depends on IBSA churches putting forth their most trustworthy, mature, and dependable members as candidates. The quality and effectiveness of our work together rises or falls on the servant leaders you recommend, whether from your church or from another.
This year’s deadline for submitting recommendations to these two important committees is August 9. You can download nomination forms quickly and easily from the home page article on http://www.IBSA.org. And you can read more there about the specific requirements of each IBSA committee or board. Or call Sandy Barnard at (217) 391-3107 for help submitting your nominations.
It’s been my privilege to work with some wonderful committee and board members over the past few years. But I’ve also observed that the number of churches supplying leaders for our committees and boards is fewer and less representative than it could be, and that each year we have far fewer recommendations than we have vacancies.
Between now and August 9, please consider recommending the most trustworthy servant leaders you know to serve on an IBSA committee or board. And be ready to say yes if you learn that someone has recommended you.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.