Archives For March 2018

New Places

By Van Kicklighter, Church Planting Team

Pioneering Spirit logoSo, you’ve made a “Go New Places” commitment. We believe that the Lord will honor this commitment in amazing ways. What comes next? If you already know what your commitment might be, great! If it is to Pray for a church planting need or for a church planter who is already at work, I encourage you to pray regularly. Include this in your weekly bulletin and newsletter. Have someone lead in prayer during your Sunday morning worship service. Call your church members to regular and focused prayer. If your commitment was to Partner, consider new and creative ways of partnering with a church planter. Send him an occasional gift card, send volunteers to help this new church carry out an evangelistic or ministry project, or baby sit their kids so he and his wife can have a date night. Gather your church family and make a Facetime or Skype call to pray for and encourage your church planter.

If you made a Go New Places Commitment and don’t know what to do next, here are some suggestions to help you take the next step.

Pray – We have 200 places around Illinois where we need a new church to be planted and that begins with prayer. We can help you in picking a place. If your church would rather connect with an existing church planter, contact us and we will help you connect. E-mail for a list of the 200 places in Illinois where a church needs to be planted.

Partner – We have church planters who would be blessed by the partnership of your church. Rural, urban, Anglo or ethnic, we can help you partner with a church planter. Learn how you can encourage a church planter.

Plant – We need churches that will give leadership to a new church planting project. Contact us and we will be glad to work with you in planting a new church. Learn more about becoming a church planter.


By Mark Emerson, Church Resources Team

Pioneering Spirit logoMore than 80 churches have committed to be more intentional at developing leaders as a part of the Pioneering Spirit Challenge. The leadership portion of this initiative has caused us to rethink and retool how we assist churches in developing future pastors, planters, and missionaries.

We are noticing that not every church is at the same level in regard to this process. Some of our churches have effective processes in place that are identifying, training, and sending leaders into various ministries, while others are starting these strategies from scratch. We are committed to resource every church no matter where they are in the process.

Try the webinar: One new resource that we have developed is a monthly webinar specifically for the churches that have made the commitment to develop leaders as part of the Pioneering Spirit Challenge. We will introduce you to an Illinois Baptist Pastor who is currently experiencing some success in developing missional leaders. He will share a few transferable principles that can be helpful to other churches. As a bonus, participants in the webinar will also be offered a free resource that can help develop leaders in their churches.

Our first webinar is Wednesday, March 21, at 10 a.m. Please register at If you are unable to participate in the live broadcast, you will have the opportunity to watch a recording of the webinar at a later date.

We are excited about what God is doing in and through the churches that are making a commitment in the Pioneering Spirit challenge.

PSC Webinar2


By Eric Reed, Church Communication Team

Pioneering Spirit logoThank you for accepting the Pioneering Spirit challenge to “Make New Sacrifices.” This commitment is about doing whatever it takes to advance the gospel through missions. Specifically, it’s a commitment to increase missions giving through the Cooperative Program.

After signing up, one Illinois pastor shared the challenge with his church. In recent years the church had faced some financial difficulties, and the result had been cuts in CP giving. When he shared the challenge with them, the church agreed to double their CP giving from 3% of undesignated offerings to 6%, with a pledge to raise it by 1% each year until they reach 10%.

For churches on tight budgets (and aren’t we all!), that represents sacrifice. But when the pastor made need known, the church rose to the call.

April 8 is Cooperative Program Sunday. That Sunday, or any Sunday in April, will be a good time to start making the need known: 8 million or more people in Illinois do not know Jesus, 5 billion worldwide are lost. And Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program is the most effective channel for sending missionaries and sharing Christ.

Encouragers: As you get started “making new sacrifices,” consider these ways to encourage your church:

  • Awareness of the need
  • Ability to make a difference
  • Actual stories through personal testimony and videos
  • Aspiration to greater service.

We’ll cover these topics in future newsletters. In the meantime, please think about how you will bring the need for sacrificial giving through CP before your church monthly, starting in April. Call on me, if we can help.

And if your church hasn’t made this commitment, please pray about it. God blesses those who support missions (Phil. 4:19).

Downloadable resources:

Meet Southern Baptists

Mission Illinois Bulletin Insert

Annual Report video

CP Rant video 2


By Pat Pajak, Evangelism Team

Pioneering Spirit logoFresh vision: I’m honored and encouraged to be leading the “Engage New People” evangelistic commitment of the IBSA’s “Pioneering Spirit Challenge.” I have been contacting the churches across the state that reported 7 or more baptisms, encouraging them to set a goal of seeing 12 baptisms in 2018. I believe that can be done as church members begin praying for lost friends and family members by name, having “Gospel Conversations” on a daily basis, and by being trained in how to share their faith. My prayer is that our IBSA churches will capture a fresh burden and passion for both evangelism and baptism.

Save the date: One of the launching events to help churches get started in engaging new people will be the “One GRAND Sunday” strategy to see 1,000 baptisms across the state on one day. That’s April 8, just three weeks away.

To assist you with this historic effort, the following resources are available:

The “One GRAND Sunday” promotional video

Conversation Starters

How to Become a Frequently Baptizing Church

PS banner

Just three months into the new year, 115 churches have accepted the Pioneering Spirit Challenge. That’s more than halfway to IBSA’s 2018 goal of 200 or more churches. But for those churches—and for all of us—the work is just beginning.

The Pioneering Spirit Challenge, timed to coincide with Illinois’ bicentennial year, seeks to bring frontier fortitude to Baptist work today. Our forebears lived in trying times, meeting danger head-on, and forging a new state. Many of them brought solid Christian faith to the hard-won territory, and many of those first Illinoisans were Baptists.

If the concepts of wilderness, lostness, and battle seem familiar, it’s because they describe our spiritual frontier today—200 years later.

“It will take as much courage for today’s believers to bring the gospel to the millions in our cities, suburbs, and crossroads communities as it did for first founders to carve out those communities starting at the time of statehood,” said Van Kicklighter, IBSA’s associate executive director for church planting. “Winning over wilderness has gotten no easier in 200 years.”

“We have been encouraged by how many pastors and churches are taking this commitment—and the critical challenge to advance the gospel in our perilous times—seriously.”

Against the reality of at least 8 million lost people in Illinois, Pioneering Spirit engages IBSA churches in church planting, baptisms, missions giving, and leadership development.

Kicklighter and his team have identified 200 locations in Illinois in need of an evangelical church. So far, 82 churches have accepted the challenge to “Go new places,” praying for or partnering with a new church plant.

In addition, 111 churches have said they will “Engage new people,” taking steps to increase their church’s annual baptisms. The “One GRAND Sunday” emphasis on April 8, encourage 1,000 baptisms statewide, is one aspect of this “engagement.” It is led by Pat Pajak, associate executive director for evangelism.

Another 66 churches said they will “Make new sacrifices,” by increasing missions giving through the Cooperative Program. And 111 churches will “Develop new leaders,” preparing tomorrow’s pastors, missionaries, and church leaders to continue the work in the decades ahead.

In all, 115 churches accepted one or more of the challenges since the Pioneering Spirit initiative was announced at the IBSA Annual Meeting in November.

“We have been encouraged by how many pastors and churches are taking this commitment—and the critical challenge to advance the gospel in our perilous times—seriously,” said Kicklighter.

One example in the church planting area: Community Southern Baptist Church in Clay City has taken on the challenge of planting a church in Carroll County. That is one of 10 counties in Illinois with no Southern Baptist congregation. Pastor David Starr told Kicklighter that his church began praying about making the commitment after seeing IBSA’s “blue map” that illustrates lostness in the state.

To learn more about the four Pioneering Spirit challenges, and to register your own church’s commitment to one or more of them, visit Together, we will –

  • Go new places – praying for or partnering with a new church plant
  • Engage new people – taking steps to increase your church’s annual baptisms
  • Make new sacrifices – increasing missions giving through the Cooperative Program
  • Develop new leaders – preparing tomorrow’s pastors, missionaries, and church leaders

– Eric Reed

Abstract cross

I was in a small gathering of folks the other week when a dear lady made reference to a revival she had been a part of.

“But, of course, nobody has revivals anymore,” she said with such confidence. I wanted to say, “Well, that’s not exactly right. I am beginning a revival this Sunday at Summit Baptist Church in Loganville.”

Here in Georgia, I remember very distinctly one statistic that stood out from research a few years ago about evangelistic churches: Churches that have revivals baptize more people than churches that do not have revivals.

In my book “Healthy Kingdom Churches” a few years back, I wrote about a doctor friend, who accepted the task of getting me well from a respiratory ailment, so I could preach a revival meeting at Atco Baptist Church in Cartersville. He made a statement and then asked a question: “I didn’t know churches were still having revivals. Are revivals still effective?”

I gave the most sincere and honest answer I knew: “Revivals are effective in some churches and not in others.”

“How do you explain that?” he asked.

I responded, “It’s like most other things. The success of a revival is determined largely by the amount of effort put into getting ready for revival.”

Churches that have revivals baptize more people than churches that do not have revivals.

The revival at Atco Baptist Church was truly amazing. It happened because the pastor, Wayne Hamrick, had prepared the congregation through praying for revival and witnessing across the community. That week we saw 57 people come to faith in Christ. In one service, we saw over 20 make professions of faith. There were many other decisions as well, with people making rededication commitments and coming on transfer of membership. God had done an amazing thing among His people who dared to trust that if they prayed and witnessed, God would do what only God can do.

I have come to the conclusion that it is wrong to declare the death of revivals, when the only reason they may be dead in a church is a lack of commitment to pray for revival toward reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the first service at the recent revival at Summit Baptist Church, pastor Jason Rothe made the statement that the congregation had literally been praying for months for this series of services. That did not surprise me because when I arrived at the church, I found a vibrant congregation filled with anticipation over what the Lord would do during the week. When the invitation was given, the aisles filled with people coming down front to pray and to unite with the church.

I want to encourage you to plan a revival for your church. As you do, remember that we have a good number of vocational evangelists in our Baptist family that God is using in a great way. When you contact them you will discover faithful, energetic and effective servants of Christ ready to bless your church.

J. Robert White is executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. This article originally appeared at

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