IBSA's New Website Faster, Friendlier
SPRINGFIELD | Web surfers visiting IBSA.org will notice a fresh, new design at the state association’s primary website, but one that is familiar, according to Lisa Sergent, IBSA director of communications.
“Our old web page was designed more than five years ago, and although we worked hard to keep it up to date and timely, we needed new capabilities and a design that is easier to use,” said Sergent who has worked with the new web host, ACS Technologies.
“We’ve been walking a bit of a tightrope in wanting to offer new capabilities and a fresh look, but not re-structure the site so that our regular visitors would have difficulty finding what they need.”
The site premiered in mid-July without fanfare, but positive reactions were quick to come in.
Tim Rhodus, pastor of Cross Church, Carlinville sent a to-the-point email: “Love the new website!”
And, IBSA staffer Charles Campbell said he “likes the look and the ease of finding things on the site.”
Another unsolicited review came from Josh Henry, managing partner in The Axess Network, which helps churches and associations with business and communication functions, including web design.Henry said the new IBSA.org is “easy to navigate and provides a great first impression for a visitor. I’ve also noticed the pages load much quicker than they did previously. Good job!”
Sergent said one of the new additions includes links to specific IBSA departments and programs across the bottom of every page. “The main navigation across the top of the page is organized primarily by IBSA’s structure with many of our services under ‘Ministries,’” Sergent explained.“But most of our named programs and services that people might need are listed across the bottom of every page.”
Of course, the most popular resource pages are still available, including IBSA’s calendar of events, a church and association search feature, additional Q&A from Dave Ramsey, and more.
“We’re also planning to add more feedback features like polls and blogs, and more electronic resources including videos, audio files and links to e-newsletters,” Sergent said.
Questions or suggestions about the new site can be directed to Sergent at LisaSergent@IBSA.org.
Materials Mailed For Sept. 18-25 IMO Emphasis
SPRINGFIELD | This month, IBSA churches will receive promotional materials for the Illinois Missions Offering (IMO), an annual emphasis to support nearly 100 missionaries across the state.Suggested dates for this year’s offering are Sept. 18-25, but churches are encouraged to plan a week of prayer and offering date that works best with their calendar.
Promotional materials include a planning guide, posters, prayer guides, offering envelopes and a DVD with four videos that can be shown in church services or mission group meetings.
The 2011 IMO goal is $430,000; last year, Illinois Baptists gave $390,229 to the IMO, $20,000 more than the previous year. For more information, call (217) 391-3116 or e-mail IMO@IBSA.org.
Miss. River Ministry Ministers To 'Third World Along The Mississippi'
SPRINGFIELD | Thinking about the Mississippi River conjures up images of river barges and steamboats, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn from the stories of Mark Twain, beautiful river banks and bluffs, and so much more. In reality, the river has another face – the face of poverty.
According to the Mississippi River Ministry (MRM) one out of five residing near the river lives in poverty, one family in three lives in substandard housing, and, half of the people living in the region are unchurched.
MRM, a partnership of eight Southern Baptist state conventions (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana), the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and WMU, is working to address the needs of the impoverished while sharing the love of Christ along the river. The ministry’s literature refers to many of the 192 counties and parishes as the “third world along the Mississippi.”
Rex Alexander, Illinois Baptist State Association Missions Mobilization director, serves as the state’s MRM contact. “This ministry is unique because it focuses on poverty,” said Alexander. “It’s similar to the Appalachian Regional Ministry (ARM), but ARM also includes resort ministries, which the MRM region does not have. Poverty is at the heart of MRM.”
In 2009 (the latest year statistics are available), 184 mission projects took place in the region. The projects included literacy initiatives, food and clothing ministries, construction, healthcare, VBS, backyard Bible clubs, block parties and many others. A total of 218 mission teams with 10,800 volunteers worked on those projects and saw 1,023 people come to faith in Christ as a result.
Alexander describes the ministry as a great way for “pastors who want their congregations to get involved in poverty ministries.” The website www.riverministry.com details lists of ministry projects open to mission teams in eight states. There are currently 250 projects in need of mission team volunteers. In Illinois, projects are available at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis and at churches in Anna, Cave-in- Rock, Colona, Joy, Rock Island and other sites. In the remaining seven states, teams can fill needs at churches, medical and women’s centers, camps, homes for the mentally challenged, prison ministries and several other sites.
George and Cathy Chinn are the recently appointed regional coordinators for the ministry. The NAMB missionary couple travels the eight state region, working with current ministries affiliated with MRM and seeking new ministries to partner with.
“We visit with ministries and try to encourage them, hear their story, see where their heart is, and find out if there is an opportunity for us to connect with that ministry,” said George Chinn.“We want to see how we can assist them in doing what God has called them to do.”
The ministry’s biggest concern, said Chinn, is “reaching unchurched people. We’re trying to find ministries that are reaching the lost who live in poverty.”
At the moment, the greatest needs of the people in the region include educational skills, food, clothing and construction of wheelchair ramps. “There is a great need for better education to help break the poverty cycle; many lack marketable skills,” noted Chinn. Two of the ways churches and ministries can help are by starting GED programs and WMU’s Christian Women’s Job Corp. He also stressed the need for Christian mentors to encourage the spiritual growth of those being ministered to.
Chinn told a story about a farmer they met in western Kentucky who began his own bicycle ministry 14 years ago. The farmer refurbishes old bicycles and takes them to impoverished areas, giving them away free to children while sharing about Christ.The farmer estimates he has given away between 400-600 bicycles over the life of the ministry. “People are finding ways to share with others so they can tell them about Jesus,” Chinn said. “God uses a lot of different means to share the Gospel.”
He encourages churches to participate in MRM whether it’s by starting their own ministry or participating in a ministry project. “It’s a great opportunity for churches to get outside their walls and be involved in missions. I think every church should be an Acts 1:8 church sharing Christ with their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth.”
For more information visit www.riverministry.com, call (217) 391-3134 or e-mail RexAlexander@IBSA.org.
IBSA Staff Helps Chart Future Of Acts I:8 Challenge
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) | IBSA’s Nate Adams and Mark Emerson are part of a group of Southern Baptist missions leaders making plans for the future of the Acts 1:8 Challenge, an effort to mobilize churches to reach their communities, regions, the continent and the world with the Gospel.
The initiative was launched in May 2004 by the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board in cooperation with Baptist state conventions and associations.
“We use that model as the way that we can help lead pastors and congregations to establish missions strategy in their church,” said Emerson, IBSA’s Missions Involvement director. In Illinois, 181 churches have officially accepted the Acts 1:8 Challenge.
The overarching question for the leaders is how will state convention partners, local associations and their churches interact with NAMB with its regionalized focus and with the IMB as it assists churches to reach unreached people groups in North America.
Adams, who authored the Acts 1:8 Challenge doctrine study for LifeWay Christian Resources, emphasized its design as a paradigm and not program, calling it a “grassroots” intention rooted in Southern Baptists’ local church heritage. The consensus among the group was that the Acts 1:8 Challenge will continue to be most effective as a church-based effort.
“The Acts 1:8 Challenge is a simple, biblical way to call the local church to involvement in multiple mission fields, and to connect them to the Southern Baptist partners that can assist them there,” Adams said. “Acts 1:8 will continue to be our basic template for missions awareness and involvement here in Illinois, and I pray it will continue to serve churches across the SBC well for years to come.”
IMB mobilizer Terry Sharp emphasized the importance of reaching North America’s cities in order to reach the world.
“The cities of North America are changing, and the unreached people groups of the world are coming to our cities. They’re hard to get to and it’s dangerous to get into their own countries, but God is bringing them to our cities.”
Shane Critser, NAMB’s church mobilization team leader, echoed Sharp in emphasizing the importance of reaching North America's cities through evangelistic church planting.
“As we plant churches and evangelize communities to reach the fourth most lost nation in the world, we will see more churches go to unreached people groups throughout the world,” Critser said. “[NAMB is] committed to seeing healthy reproducing churches in the key cities of each region.
“To do this we need a coalition of likeminded people who can pull together all our strategies and resources and support each other to impact lostness.”
In the days ahead, Acts 1:8 Challenge momentum will hinge on stateand association-based implementation as leaders ramp up efforts to mobilize churches in missions, evangelistic church planting and evangelism.
Emerson said he was glad to see a renewed vigor as Acts 1:8 was embraced by the missions entities and further grafted into state and associational strategies.
To learn more about what it means to be an Acts 1:8 church, contact Emerson at (217) 391-3136 or MarkEmerson@IBSA.org.
Camp Teaches Kids To Sing, Play With Purpose
GREENVILLE, Ill. | It’s never too early to learn fundamental principles about worship.
That’s the premise behind IBSA’s Children’s Music Camp, a four-day experience held annually at Greenville College for kids who have completed third through sixth grades.
“We see children at that age start to discover their musical gifts.That’s when they really start showing aptitude,” said Steve Hamrick, IBSA Worship and Church Music Ministries director. “Our goal is to transfer the musical arts into the worship arts, and to help them understand the importance of singing or playing with a purpose, and not just for fun.”
This year’s camp, held July 13-16, offered workshops in voice, piano, guitar, band, sign language, drama and visual art, as well as the opportunity to perform “That’s so Daniel!,” a musical chronicling the life of Daniel with an emphasis on making wise choices.
The musical, which the kids performed for families and friends on the last day of camp, included several styles of music, including kidfriendly songs, praise music, and a hymn arrangement.
“We picked it because it had a wide variety of the different musical genres that we have represented in our churches,” Hamrick said. In fact, helping students learn the importance of worshiping through different styles is one of the main emphases of Children’s Music Camp. In a workshop called “Worthy of Worship,” campers learned the reasoning behind “why we do what we do musically in a church service,” Hamrick said.
For more information about Children’s Music Camp, or other resources for children’s music ministry, call (217) 391-3126 or e-mail DebbieMuller@IBSA.org.
Picture Your Church At Its Best
Take a moment and, in your mind’s eye, picture your church building at its very best. Is it early morning or sunset? Is it decorated for a wedding or immersed in the frenzy of Vacation Bible School? Is the parking lot full, or does the solitary image of your pastor’s car late at night remind you of his faithfulness? If you were going to describe the beauty of your church, where would you start?
Here at IBSA, we’d like to see that picture. That’s why, for the next several weeks, we are sponsoring the IBSA Church Photo Contest, inviting the best photographs of your church building. They can be pictures you have already taken, or ones that you snap especially for this occasion.
What will we do with these pictures? Well first, we plan to display some of the best ones here in the Illinois Baptist, as a celebration of the variety of churches that together make up the Illinois Baptist State Association. And we will be able to display even more on the recently redesigned IBSA.org website.
We’re also doing some renovation of the IBSA building this summer, and would like to make actual IBSA Churches a major visual theme in the updated interior design. When visitors come to the building, we would like them to know IBSA is dedicated to local churches: strengthening them, starting them, and helping send their members into the mission fields of the world. I’d also like our staff to be reminded of that every day.
Of course, we know an incentive always helps, so we will be entering all the entries into a drawing for several Amazon.com gift cards.
Now, you might be thinking, “Hey wait a minute, the church is people, not buildings.” Of course, you would be right, and in the future we also plan to collect images of Illinois Baptists worshiping and serving and on mission trips.
But just as the picture of a church building can’t fully depict the people who make up a congregation, neither can a picture of those current people alone fully depict the long-term influence a church has on years, generations, or sometimes centuries of people.
A church building is only a physical structure, but it also represents a lasting presence in a community, and Hopefully a lasting impact. Pastors come and go, and so do even the longest-term members. But a church building somehow communicates a lasting commitment to share the gospel, and teach the Bible, and serve others in Christ’s name.
I know people who have only experienced one or two church homes their entire lives. Their “picture” of church may be pretty simple and consistent.By contrast, my membership has been in nine churches so far, six in Illinois and three in Georgia. Yet I can “picture” every one of those church buildings vividly, and each one of those congregations that had a significant, spiritual impact on my life.
So if you’ve had more than one church home here in Illinois, or want To submit more than one picture, feel free. Or if you have a classic picture of your church that’s from 50 years ago, we’d love to have that one as well. We do ask that the photos be of IBSA churches, and that they be of a certain minimum quality for reproduction.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For most of us, a thousand words couldn’t begin to describe the memories, the impact, the lasting meaning that we could ascribe to a simple photograph of our less-than perfect but wonderful church.
That’s why we want to fill our paper, our website, and our hallways here at IBSA with those images. We want these photographs to be continual reminders that local churches deserve our focus, our sacrifices, and the investment of our lives. We want to picture urban, suburban, small town and rural churches, in all their diversity.
And we want to do what we can to picture the church at her very best. I believe that’s how God chooses to picture her too.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and may be contacted at NateAdams@IBSA.org.
IBSA Church Photo Contest
The Illinois Baptist State Association is calling on photographers across the state to capture the unique structures where we worship. Follow these guidelines when submitting your entry:
1. All photos must be submitted to MeredithDay@IBSA.org by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 14.
2. Photos must have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). They can be digitally altered to enhance color or contrast.
3. Photos may be oriented horizontally or vertically, and can be in color or black & white.
4. Many of the best images will run in the Illinois Baptist and on IBSA.org. Others may be used throughout the IBSA Building in Springfield. All participants will be eligible for a drawing for Amazon.com gift cards.
For more information, call (217) 391-3110 or e-mail MeredithDay@IBSA.org.
Update: Associations Comply With Illinois Bounce House Rules
HARRISBURG, Ill. | “It was an easy process.”
That’s how Randy Davis, director of missions for Saline Association, described the experience of applying for and receiving a permit to own and operate the association’s bounce house attraction.
After reading an article in the May 6 issue of the Illinois Baptist about the state’s permit requirement, Davis called the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL). They pointed him to a set of online forms, he completed them and paid a fee of $55, and IDOL sent an inspector to the associational office to approve the bounce house.
“He looked at the mesh over the openings and checked all the seams to make sure there were no rips or tears.He looked for any sign of wear on it that might be hazardous to using it,” Davis said. The bounce house passed inspection, and Saline Association received a permit good for the remainder of this year. The inspection took less than one hour.
Along with the permit, the association, as the owner of the bounce house, is responsible to: provide proof of insurance for the attraction (at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage); inform IDOL in advance of events where the attraction will be used; and train volunteers in safety procedures.
When a church that hasn’t previously used the block party trailer reserves it for an event, Davis goes to the event himself, or sends a trained volunteer. He makes sure organizers know how to set up and take down the bounce house, and that they know how to monitor its use.
Kathy Schultz handles block party trailer reservations for Three Rivers Association; they also went through the bounce house permit process earlier this year. When a church representative comes to pick up the trailer, Schultz makes sure they are well-versed in how to operate the bounce house safely.
Associations, as the owners, are responsible for the training, and they share a responsibility with churches to have a list of trained volunteers onsite at each event. The roster form, available at IDOL’s website, must be signed by each volunteer, stating that they've been trained in safety procedures.
For more information, contact IDOL’s Carnival and Amusement Ride Inspection Division at (217) 782-9347.
Towerview VBS Puts Best Foot Forward, Collect Shoes To Provide Clean Water
BELLEVILLE, Ill. | Every year, Towerview Baptist Church in Belleville encourages children attending Vacation Bible School to give to a special missions offering during the week. This year, that offering looked a little different. Instead of money, they brought in shoes.
“This was a great mission for VBS,” said Laura Turner, Towerview’s VBS director. “Bringing shoes, rather than money, was something concrete. They could see the change they were making.”
The shoes, 346 pairs, were donated to a ministry that provides them at a low cost in countries where many people don’t have access to shoes. The profits are then used to build wells and filtration plants to other countries that need clean water.
In addition to the shoes donated throughout the week, on the last night of VBS a challenge was given to all adults that came to see what their children had learned in VBS. The challenge was to donate the shoes off their own feet. Nineteen people took off their shoes and left the church barefoot.
“I am so proud of the kids and the way they collected shoes!” said Ron Woods, pastor at Towerview.
“They really took this effort to heart because they realized that these donations would eventually provide clean drinking water for people who do not have access to any. And to think that 19 people accepted the challenge to totally walk away and leave their shoes behind without any previous warning shows what tender, Spirit-led hearts many of the adults around Towerview have. I think that God must have a smile on His face when He looks at hearts like that.”
Lara Babot is a member of Towerview Baptist Church.