With echoes of banjoes and a recent chorus ringing in their ears, messengers left the 109th Annual Meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association with fresh words for prayer:
Heal our streets and land,
Show your mighty hand;
win this nation back…
Build Your kingdom here!*
With that seminal statement comes fresh focus on evangelism.
In the Wednesday evening session, messengers were invited to commit to gospel outreach in their own mission fields by placing a pinpoint on a giant map of Illinois and investing in one or more of five commitments for kingdom growth. (The “commitments” are detailed HERE, and will be featured in the Nov. 23 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper and in Nate Adams’ column online next week.)
“Unhealthy churches are filled with people who know about God, but they don’t know God,” IBSA President Odis Weaver said in his address concluding the first business session. “If the Kingdom of God is going to advance in Illinois, or anywhere, we’ve got to move beyond knowing about God to knowing God, and living that.”
Weaver, pastor of First Baptist Church of Plainfield, urged church leaders to repent complacency and bolster their courage. “We have too often allowed our churches to become merely places of comfort and rest, rather than being fortresses against the darkness,” he said.
Weaver completed his second one-year term as president and was succeeded by vice president Kevin Carrothers, pastor of Rochester FBC. Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills was elected vice president.
State of the State
In his report, Executive Director Nate Adams explained that IBSA has narrowed its focus from 12 goals to 4 over a two-year period: develop leaders, inspire cooperation, stimulate church health and growth, and catalyze evangelistic church planting and missions. “We are seeking to focus less on goals that simply measure IBSA staff activities and more on goals that indicate true, positive results in churches, Adams said. He charted positive results in most areas, and noted in particular that new church plants are up from 10 to 22 or more by year’s end. Of concern is last year’s report that baptisms are down from around 5,000 to 4,500. The current totals are not yet available from the 2014-2015 Annual Church Profiles submitted by IBSA-member congregations, but the previous figures are driving the focus on church commitments that produce baptisms.
Messengers approved a 2016 budget with an anticipated Cooperative Program commitment of $6.3 million. The ratio for distributing CP dollars remains at 56.75% for work in Illinois and 43.25% forwarded to the national SBC for international and North American missions.
William Towne, finance director of the SBC Executive Committee reported that 107 IBSA churches had taken the “1% Challenge,” raising their Cooperative Program giving by an additional one-percent of their undesignated offerings, and that 15 of those churches had done so for a second year in a row. While CP giving is down about one-percent year-to-date in Illinois, nationally the trend appears to have turned and CP giving is notching upward.
Messengers received reports from the Baptist Foundation of Illinois (BFI) and the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services (BCHFS). They also adopted five resolutions, including two addressing current culture and religious liberty.
In addition, an offering of $2799.36, was designated to assist International Mission Board personnel returning from the field due to IMB’s staff reduction.
The 109th Annual Meeting coincided with the 150th anniversary of the host church, First Baptist of Marion. The church’s pastor, Bob Dickerson, brought the annual meeting sermon. “Reaping a harvest almost never happens on the same day as sowing the seed,” he said, pointing to the problem of weariness.
Citing Galatians 6:9, Dickerson urged tired workers to seek new strength. “There are times when not getting weary is very difficult,” he said “But we need to keep planting good seeds… even if the harvest takes longer than expected, we have a promise here that in God’s perfect time we shall reap!
The 2016 IBSA Annual Meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in metro Chicago. Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills, will preach the sermon.
* Theme song for the meeting was “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective, © 2011, Thankyou Music
– Team report by Illinois Baptist staff