Lost people matter to John Mattingly, especially those who live in the northwest quadrant of Illinois. John served as a pastor in Joy, Ill., then as director of missions for Sinnissippi Baptist Association, and now serves as IBSA’s church planting director for the region that includes Peoria, Rockford, and the Quad Cities. John takes his role as a strategist for church planting seriously. John and his wife, Jacki, sold their home so they could be unencumbered and mobile.
“A pastor’s got to come and be part of the community,” Mattingly said. Currently, that’s in Sterling, where the couple has helped restart a faltering congregation.
“John and Jacki are just a unique couple,” said Van Kicklighter, IBSA’s associate executive director of church planting. “I think part of their passion for people in northwestern Illinois comes from a deep sense that God has planted them (there).”
Mattingly is one of eight IBSA church planting catalysts working with more than 80 church planters across Illinois. Last year, IBSA and ministry partners started 16 new churches. IBSA has identified more than 200 places and people groups in Illinois that need a church. (Their work is supported, in part, by the Mission Illinois Offering.)
New churches are needed because in some places, there simply aren’t enough. Of 102 Illinois counties, 10 counties have no Southern Baptist church, and another 12 have only one. There are large sections of the state with little evangelical witness, especially in northwest Illinois and in the cities. And new churches are needed in other places too, because new congregations are effective at reaching unchurched people.
“If we are going to reach northwest Illinois, I really believe that we’re going to have to develop an appetite for risk,” Mattingly said. “Risk means that we don’t know what’s going to happen.” And that makes the northwest corner “a frontier area.” Part of his job is finding church planters who will come to this mix of cities and rural communities.
“People in northwest Illinois deserve every opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus just like someone on the other side of theglobe,” Kicklighter said of the area where factories once booming have closed, and churches once common have dwindled.
“Our communities are open to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Mattingly concurred. “All we need are some people who will come and take some risks.”
The Mission Illinois Offering and Week of Prayer is September 10-17. Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering.