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Illinois Leadership Summit January 24, 2017

Nate Adams, IBSA Executive Director, talks with a pastor at the Illinois Leadership Summit January 24, 2017 in Springfield.

“Personal development requires surrender and sacrifice,” shared leadership expert Mac Lake.

“If I want to grow myself there’s a price I have to pay…Discipline is often the cost we’re not willing to pay.”

More than 250 leaders gathered in Springfield for the Jan. 24-25 Illinois Leadership Summit. Mac Lake, the architect of The Launch Network, a church planting network, served as the summit’s keynote speaker and was joined by 18 break out session leaders. Together, they taught the men and women in attendance practical ways to became better leaders and how to use what they’ve learned to develop leaders in their own churches.

Visit our Facebook page to watch video from Tuesday evening’s session, and learn from Lake:

– Why people don’t do what you want them to do
– About the strengthen conversation
– How to do one minute goal setting

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter hear from some of the breakout session leaders, and read the Feb. 6 Illinois Baptist newspaper for complete coverage of the Illinois Leadership Summit.

The BriefingCastro death unlikely to halt revival or spur liberty
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who died at age 90, is being remembered as both an unwitting catalyst of revival and an opponent of religious liberty. His death, said Southern Baptists with ties to Cuba, is unlikely to yield significant increases in religious liberty for the island nation until the fall of the communist government he inaugurated 57 years ago.

3 dead, 5 sickened after church’s Thanksgiving dinner
Three people have died and five more were sickened after eating Thanksgiving dinner at an event organized by a church in the San Francisco Bay Area, health officials said. Sutter Delta Medical Center said it received eight patients with probable symptoms of foodborne illness Friday and Saturday. Three of the patients died, four patients were treated and released and one remains hospitalized. It remains unclear exactly what caused the illness.

Violent Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago
Chicago saw one its most violent Thanksgiving holidays in years, with eight people killed and 62 others wounded. The toll towers over the number of shootings in the previous two Thanksgiving holiday weekends, according to data kept by the Tribune.

Why Jerry Falwell Jr. turned down Trump’s Cabinet position
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. believes that Donald Trump “will become America’s greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.” But that wasn’t enough to persuade him to accept Trump’s offer to become secretary of education. Falwell told RNS the decision was due to concerns for the health of his family and the university he leads.

Pope challenged by conservative cardinals
Four senior Catholic cardinals went public with a private letter they sent to Pope Francis, asking him to state plainly whether he is liberalizing Church practice on divorced, remarried Catholics. The letter also questions whether the Pope is relaxing traditional and biblical standards on morality in general. Francis refused to respond so, the cardinals published their letter on various Catholic news sites.

Sources: Baptist Press, Fox News, Chicago Tribune, Religion News, CNN

Go Church Go!

ib2newseditor —  November 14, 2016

People in the form of  church.First let me say I how much I appreciate my many friends who are St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox fans, even those who seemed to suddenly become Cleveland Indians fans just prior to the 2016 World Series. I try not to be an annoying or gloating Cubs fan, though some might say that simply writing about the Cubs here makes me so.

But it’s not really the now-world-champion Cubs team or organization that I want to draw on for inspiration with these thoughts. Rather, it’s the persevering, always hopeful, and now victorious Cubs fans. Though I grew up a Cardinals fan like many in southern Illinois, five things have always drawn me to Cubs fans, and made me one of them.

Worldwide – The WGN cable network is probably most responsible for giving the Cubs a more than regional fan base. When wearing a Cubs logo, I have found other fans all around the country, and even around the world.

Wrigley – You just can’t deny the old world charm of the historic yet modernized stadium that the Cubs call their friendly confines. For true baseball fans, it’s one of the most inviting places in the world.

Waiters – As almost everyone now knows, Cubs fans had not seen a World Series championship since 1908. As the Series approached, numerous writers listed things that are more current than a Cubs championship, including the toaster and sliced bread itself. True, faithful Cubs fans are by definition those who patiently wait.

Winsome – While I’m sure we all know an abrasive Cubs fan or two, the overwhelming majority of Cubs fans I’ve known are friendly, hopeful, optimistic, and deeply loyal. Even though “lovable losers” is a label that’s practically become part of the official Cubs brand, you can’t get a rise out of a Cubs fan with that kind of insult. After all, until this year, what defense was there to that label? Cubs fans just smile, and winsomely recite their equally well-known mantra: “Wait ‘til next year.”

Winners – And finally, this year, we can add a new capital W that could only have been used in small case a few times over the past 108 years. This year, Cubs fans are winners. Their perseverance finally paid off. Next year has finally come. And in a demonstration of support and celebration that has now been labeled the largest gathering in American history, and seventh largest in world history, more than five million fans flooded the streets and parks of Chicago to relabel their lovable losers—beloved winners.

Now, how do I rationalize writing about baseball here? Well, almost any time I am moved or inspired by something in secular culture, I find it’s because I see in that event a reflection of something larger in God’s Kingdom, or God’s character, or God’s people. In this case, I think I find Cubs fans so inspiring (admittedly, some Cubs players are not) because I see in them a faint reflection of the same qualities I see in faithful Christians, and churches.

Throughout much of the world, including our own nation and state, faithful Christians are not seen as current winners. But, at least when we’re at our best, we are seen as winsome people who are patiently waiting for our victorious Lord Jesus to return. We are seeking to take our love and loyalty and gospel message worldwide. And yet we seek to make each local gathering place as inviting and friendly as the confines of Wrigley Field.

There will be a day when the five million that gathered to celebrate in Chicago will be a pale comparison to the tribes, tongues, and nations that will gather at the feet of Jesus, to worship him forever. But for now, a long-suffering group known as Cubs fans have reminded me of a more important group of people whose patient, faithful, hopeful perseverance will eventually be rewarded by victory. Go Church Go.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

ivoted

A look at the electoral map says it all. A swath of blue on the West Coast and Northeast, and mostly red in the vast middle. Except for Illinois and Minnesota. We live in a divided nation.

For Christians, the issue today is how do we live Christ-like, now that the nation has chosen a president after a divisive and nasty two-year contest. Can we begin, as one observer put it, to love our neighbor who has “the wrong political sign” in his yard? Or to pray for political leaders of all parties to overcome division for the sake of the nation?

White evangelicals, white Catholics, and Mormons all supported Republican Donald Trump according to exit polls, while Black Protestants and Latino Catholics went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 8 presidential election.

At 81%, the majority support for Trump by white evangelicals was a surprise to some, after leading evangelical leaders split on the candidate. His conservative stance on moral and political issues traditionally important to born-again believers was at odds with his irreligious lifestyle.

Russell Moore of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is one of the few Southern Baptists who spoke against Trump, based on the candidate’s behaviors. Moore consistently urged Southern Baptists to keep conservative politics from swamping biblical beliefs. And his view the day after the election? He tweeted congratulations and called for prayer.

“The most important lesson we should learn is that the church must stand against the way politics has become a religion, and religion has become politics,” Moore wrote on his blog. “We can hear this idolatrous pull even in the apocalyptic language used by many in this election—as we have seen in every election in recent years—that this election is our ‘last chance.’”

But Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, counters, “Trump’s line—‘Let’s make America great again’—and his last-minute saying—‘look folks, I’m your last chance’—was really powerful for white evangelicals who see their numbers in the general population slipping.

“White Christians are declining every year by a percentage point or more as a proportion of the population,” Jones told Religion News Service. “So when Trump says, ‘I’m your last chance, folks,’ there’s a real truth to that.”

Some analysts attribute Trump’s victory to a middle-class, middle-of-the-country rebuke of the Obama legacy and the liberal cultural shift during his administration, as exemplified by the legalization of same-sex marriage and the recent actions on transgender issues. Others say Clinton lost, in part, because she ignored evangelicals.

“We asked for the votes of evangelicals and the Clinton campaign didn’t,” said Michael Wear, who served as faith outreach director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “It’s a campaign, you ask for people’s votes. And Hillary asked for just about every vote except this group of voters,” he told World magazine.

More prayer, more power

Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd didn’t endorse Trump while he served as SBC President. But the week after he was succeeded by Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines, Floyd was one of a handful of SBC leaders who attended Trump’s meeting with nearly 1,000 evangelicals. Now, Floyd advises prayer.

“Please prioritize praying for Trump….(and) for Vice President-Elect Mike Pence,” Floyd wrote on his blog. “Pray for wisdom, future, security, protection and leadership that will be extended to our nation. Pray for Trump as he selects members for his cabinet and begins the appointments of hundreds of people.”

The next move by evangelicals is to “stay in the game,” says Ed Stetzer of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. Evangelicals who helped give Trump the office have a responsibility to help mold his presidency.

“There are many evangelicals who voted for Trump, and many Evangelicals who advised him,” Stetzer wrote for Christianity Today. “It’s time to advise him now that immigrants are made in the image of God, women are not tools and toys, racial and religious prejudice must be confronted, and so much more.”

Stetzer noted the decided shift on the importance of a candidate’s character to evangelical voters who supported Trump. “The answer is not for us to change our views on character, it’s to help a flawed candidate become a President of character.

“Evangelicals elected Trump,” Stetzer said. “Now they need to call him to a better way,” Stetzer said.

Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist.

Lost in London

ib2newseditor —  November 7, 2016

london-sceneWhen you travel you have to make allowances for some of the local customs. In New Orleans, prepare for Cajun cooking and in coastal southern California enjoy the more relaxed pace of life. In foreign countries the differences can be even more pronounced. But if you’re traveling to another English speaking country it can’t be that different, right? Wrong.

A week the southwest of England shined a spotlight on some of those differences.

A crosswalk isn’t a crosswalk. It’s a Zebra (pronounced with a short “e” sound) crossing. Other types of pedestrian crossings are Pelican, Puffin, Toucan, and Pegasus (for horses and their riders.) Google them for fun.

No washcloths for you. Not all hotels provide “flannels” the English word for washcloths. They are considered too intimate an item to be washed and reused by another person, so bring your own.

Can I get ice with that? It’s true, most beverages are served lukewarm in England, except tea, which is hot of course. I was told that if you ask for a glass of ice to go with your Coke, you would get four cubes and a slice of lemon. That’s exactly what happened. It became a game to me to count the ice cubes. One nice server in London went over the apparent allotment and gave me five cubes.

We don’t have restrooms here. Don’t ask to use the public restroom or bathroom, they don’t have one. They do have a public toilet, or loo. It may cost you 20 or 30 thirty pence (about 35-50 cents), and may or may not be clean.

One word – scones. My fellow Americans, we have been lied to by bakery cafés (you know who you are). Scones are not hard triangular-shaped baked goods. No, they are soft and biscuit-like and so delicious topped with clotted cream (bad name, great taste) and jam.

Empty churches. Sorry folks, this one isn’t funny. England is filled with lovely old churches, but sadly, most have become tourist attractions. People line up for tours of Westminster Abby and St. Paul’s Cathedral and for the services, however most of those attending the services are tourists too.

The church grounds are beautifully landscaped and immaculate, and popular with the locals. They are great spots for enjoying a picnic lunch in the middle of a hectic work day.

Of course there are flourishing churches in England, but they are few and far between. England and the rest of western Europe culturally trend 5-10 years ahead of the United States. This isn’t a trend Christians in the U.S. shouldn’t follow.

Lisa Misner Sergent recently spent time in England and will be writing a series of articles about the state of Christianity and missions in that country in upcoming issues the Illinois Baptist newspapers.

By Marvin Del Rios

Editor’s note: This post is the last in a series on cross-cultural ministry, taken from a round table discussion between four Illinois pastors and leaders. Click here to read more from their conversation, published in the September 29 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper. 

marvindelriosMarvin Del Rios is pastor of iglesia Bautista Erie in Chicago. He will lead worship during the Thursday morning session of the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicagoland, Nov. 2-3. The theme of the meeting is “Cross-Culture.”

Defining ‘cross-cultural ministry’
When I hear “cross-cultural ministry,” I go to the book of Acts, chapter 6, which talks about the differences between the Hellenistic Jews and the Jews that come from their own land. That is something that we are living within Hispanic or Latino churches right now, which is the way our generations relate to one another.

The first generation can become accustomed to a certain way of preaching, a certain way of leading worship, a certain way of “doing church” right. The second and third generations are more familiar with American culture, education, lifestyle, and language. What is happening is that there is unfortunately an exodus of the second and third generations that are leaving the church. Either they’re leaving completely and not coming back, or they’re going to a more English-based or multicultural church.

On a pastor’s responsibility
Even though I am called to go and preach to the nations, I have a burning desire to go and reach my second- and third-generation Latino culture. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect with the first, second, and third generations, even though we may speak the same language and may have some of the same traditions.

 We have tried to make our church a hub for the community.

Even though I am a second-generation Hispanic leading a predominately first-generation church, a few people that are second-generation have seen me model trying to minister and take care of that first generation. And now, the first generation is taking the extra step to learn a little bit more English. All of that happened with modeling. I could have said, “Fine, I’m concentrating on the second and third generations, and that’s it.” But we still have that need for the gospel for all generations and cultures. It is our responsibility to see it through and make it happen.

On inter-generational outreach
My approach has been to let get something going well with our second-generation people, so they can take it back to the first generation. Usually we hear about the first generation ministering to the second generation, but now it is starting to turn around.  Now it is the second generation ministering to the first generation. Because of that dynamic, we also are ministering to the young professionals in our community and trying to see where we can come out of our comfort zone.

We have tried to make our church a hub for the community. Now we are housing an AA meeting for families and a lot of contemporary culture kinds of programs. In a nutshell, the people in our community know we are there to serve. Is it happening really fast? No, I wish it would be faster. But it is getting to the point that we are seeing more of the gospel leading out, instead of the gospel just being planted in our church and staying there.

By Kevin Carrothers

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series on cross-cultural ministry, taken from a round table discussion between four Illinois pastors and leaders. Click here to read more from their conversation, published in the September 29 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper. 

kevin-carrothersKevin Carrothers is pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church and president of IBSA. He will deliver the president’s message Wednesday, Nov. 2, during the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Chicagoland. The theme of the meeting is “Cross-Culture.”

On being an influential church
I was a couple of years into my ministry in Rochester when I sat down with a leader in town. I asked him, “What do you think about when you hear Rochester First Baptist Church? What comes to mind?” His words weren’t really a rebuke, but I didn’t like what he said. He said “You’re a nice little church.”

Well, we are a small church, unapologetically a small church, but that was his perception, a “nice little church.” Now, hopefully that has changed since then. Now, we’re “the church that does the party” (our annual fall festival). Or we’re the church that does VBS in the summer in a way that spreads the gospel to our community.

We don’t have to be the biggest church but we can still be the most influential church.

I don’t want to just be the nice little church, but we are still little. The word that I want is influence. We don’t have to be the biggest church but we can still be the most influential church.

On ‘incarnational’ ministry
God was incarnational with us—he sent Jesus to live among people. Likewise, we need to be incarnational. Sometimes I think that’s where we kind of miss the boat in the church. We think we have to come up with a new program or a new ministry. Instead, let’s find out who is doing something and go be involved in that.

For me personally, being incarnational is volunteering at my kid’s school. On my day off, I spend a couple hours at the schools and have a presence there. That makes an impact. It’s coaching Little League or youth basketball. You’re there with people. Then, you have to be intentional about making sure the gospel becomes known, about making sure that they know this is who you are.

It gets back to all the things we have been talking about. Cross-culturally we have to love our community; we have to show them that we care. We have to go where they are.