At this time of year, it’s likely that someone may ask us this question: “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” And when asked, we usually answer: “Lose weight,” or “Read the Bible more,” or something like that. Our culture’s common thinking on resolutions tends to be individualized thinking about our own personal goals. That’s normal, right?
Not if you’re an Illinois Baptist. Our family of churches makes resolutions together. We make these resolutions not as individuals, but as a gathering of Christians from hundreds of Illinois Baptist churches. And we make these large-group resolutions at a strange time, in early-to-middle November, not on January 1. These resolutions are part of our Annual Meeting every year.
My dear Illinois Baptist family, now that the New Year has come, I must gently ask: Do we even remember our resolutions from our annual meeting this past November? The messengers from our churches enthusiastically approved resolutions about marriage, religious freedom, human trafficking, and state-sponsored gambling. As we gather in our churches for our first prayer meetings of 2014, let’s remember our resolutions and keep praying about these things that we were so resolved about on those days in November.
I left our annual meeting very encouraged by what God is doing through our Great Commission work in Illinois. As I boarded the last Amtrak train out of Springfield a few hours after our last meeting session had ended, I was still affected by the last-minute resolution that one of our brothers proposed regarding repentance and evangelism.
The wording of the resolution was both convicting and inspiring – and repentant. We resolved we should “repent of our unfaithfulness to God and beg for His mercy, grace and forgiveness because at times we have all failed to faithfully and regularly share the Gospel.”
Furthermore, we said, “All members of Illinois Baptist State Association churches are encouraged to regularly pray for God to give His people the ability to speak HIS message with boldness and clarity by the power of the Holy Spirit, and regularly pray for all to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”
Illinois Baptists, let’s keep repenting and sharing the Gospel in 2014, so that we may truly grow as churches together advancing the Gospel.
And may God receive all the glory!
Scott Kelly is pastor at Evanston Baptist Church and director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Northwestern University.