2011 Illinois Mission Offering Vital To Ministries Across State
Meredith Day, Associate Editor
SPRINGFIELD | This year’s Illinois Mission Offering brings with it an even greater sense of urgency than in previous years, said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams.
As the North American Mission Board prepares to reduce funding through state conventions beginning in January, Adams encouraged Illinois Baptist churches to give generously to the state’s annual mission offering.
“NAMB’s mission support through IBSA next year will be $265,000 less than this year – a 16 percent cut,” Adams wrote in a letter to leaders across the state. “There has never been a more important time for Illinois churches to step up and take responsibility for our mission field here in Illinois.
” More than 8.2 million people in Illinois do not profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, making the state one of the largest mission fields in the U.S.
To reach those millions with the Gospel, nearly 100 Illinois missionaries work alongside Illinois Baptist churches, and to support those missionaries, IBSA churches give generously to the IMO each year. IMO gifts help plant churches, train Illinois Baptists in evangelism and leadership, start new campus ministries, and equip church members to engage in each of their Acts 1:8 mission fields.
In 2010, IBSA churches gave $390,229 to the IMO, which was $20,000 more than the previous year but $10,000 below the statewide goal.This year’s goal is $430,000.
Adams noted that less than half of IBSA member churches gave through the IMO in 2010. If each of the nonparticipating churches had given even half of what the participating churches gave, the offering would have increased by 50 percent – nearly $200,000.
This year’s offering emphasis and season of prayer for Illinois missions is scheduled for Sept. 18-25, although churches can choose dates that fit their calendars. Promotional materials, including a planning guide, posters, prayer guides, offering envelopes, and a DVD with four missions videos, were mailed to IBSA churches in mid-August.
The videos, also available for download at IBSA.org, highlight Illinois Baptist ministries where lives have been changed with the Gospel, including church planting, evangelism and collegiate outreach. They can be used as part of a worship service, or to promote the Offering in smaller missions groups or Sunday School classes.
Each church will receive materials in quantities based on reported morning worship attendance, but more copies of all the materials are available free of charge by calling (217) 391- 3116 or sending an e-mail to IMO@IBSA.org.
Additional materials, including an adult mission study, clip art, children’s sermon and video listening guides, are available at IBSA.org. Click on the IMO logo.
IMO: Church In Dekalb Builds Gospel-Centered Relationships
Editor’s note: The Illinois Mission Offering supports Illinois Baptist church planters as they reach out to people groups across the state. This year’s Season of Prayer for Illinois missions is Sept. 18-25.
DEKALB, Ill. | When Erica Kelley started attending The Church in Dekalb (TCD), she thought she had Christianity figured out.
“At the beginning of the process, I thought I was a Christian. I wasn’t,” said Kelley, who attends the IBSA church plant started two years ago by Pastor Jamie Page. “Honestly, nobody had ever really taught me the Gospel…I didn’t fully understand. I knew Jesus died for my sins, but I guess I hadn’t fully let all of that in.”
Kelley, a nurse who works with developmentally disabled adults, first heard about TCD on a friend’s Facebook page. The church wasn’t yet meeting regularly on Sundays, but Kelley began attending a weekly community group.
“[That’s] completely out of the ordinary for me,” she said of the small group. “Intimate setting, pouring out feelings, that wasn’t me at that point.
I’ve always been very closed off.”
But Kelley said Page and others from TCD lived out their faith in front of her, and she recognized a difference in them.
“All of them seemed to incorporate every aspect of Jesus…into their lives.I could see Jesus every time I looked at all of them, and that is totally what made the difference for me.
“Every single person that went there was representing Jesus to me. And I was like, ‘I want to be like every sin-gle one of those people, and I am not.’”
Kelley immersed herself in Scripture, started contributing in small group, and even stayed after church services to begin building relationships with others at TCD.Page baptized her in the fall of
She said Jesus is the common denominator in the friendships she has developed with Page, his wife Cherron, and other leaders at the church. She described those relationships as always having a third party, that Jesus “tagged along” each time she hung out with anyone from TCD.
Her story is just one example of how the church is seeing the Gospel make an impact in Dekalb.
“The Gospel is the power of God for salvation,” Page said. “So it’s not my wisdom or our persuasiveness, or our worship sets or what we look like.” He encourages his young church to see Dekalb as their mission field.
“…We’re not just sending people to Africa and China, all over the world. We see Walmart as our Africa, or Target as our India, our neighborhood as an unreached people group.
“It is believing that I can go stand in line at Walgreens across the street and see somebody buying a pack of chewing gum, and see that as my mission field…”
TCD is running around 80 people in attendance during their weekly services, and their current meeting space holds 155. Page hopes to see the church grow to about that number, and then send out leaders to start another new work.
“We really want to be a church that plants churches,” he said. “We hope to see the Gospel impact people, transform people’s lives, and then move out from here to do it in other places.”
Missionary Kids Gather In Illinois, Prepare For College Experience
Meredith Day, associate editor
PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill.|The 57 incoming college freshmen that descended on Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camp August 5-8 have had life experiences that belie their 18 years.
Some have woken up every morning to Muslim prayer calls. Others spent most of their school years at boarding schools several hours from their families. They have all eaten foods and spoken languages that most teenagers never imagine.
But they share many of the same excitements and anxieties that unite all college freshmen. Hosted by the International Mission Board and Illinois WMU, the 57 students were at Lake Sallateeska for the annual MK Re-entry Retreat, an event designed especially for the children of international missionaries, or “MK’s.”
The retreat, hosted by a different state Baptist convention every year, is designed to help orient MK’s to American culture, specifically the culture they’ll find on a college campus.The weekend also gives them a chance to meet others who are going through the same transition, and to process some of the adjustments they’ll make as they attend colleges across the country.
Andrew Bradford is an MK who has attended boarding school in Senegal for the past six years. In a few weeks, he’ll join the freshman class at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.
“The thing I’m worried about most is adapting to life there because there’s only…the college out there; we’re out in the middle of nowhere. And in Dakar where I lived in Senegal, there were 4 million people every day,” Bradford said. “Tigerville has two stores; one sells lumber and the other sells ice cream.”
Along with adjusting to a new town, getting along with roommates, making new friends and managing a full schedule of classes, MK’s may face an identity crisis of sorts, said Illinois WMU Director Serena Butler.
“These kids have the issues that any other freshman would have. But on top of that, they’re getting adjusted to a new culture, and they may say, ‘I’m a missionary kid, but now I’m on my own, so is my identity really as a missionary kid? Who am I now?’”
MK’s may also defy the normal labels put on freshman, Butler said, making it difficult to answer even simple beginning-of-school questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do your parents do?”
“They’re a mix of an international student coming to America to go to school, and an American freshman.Their nationality is American, but their mindset is like that of an international student,” Butler said.
At the retreat, the MK’s and their facilitators, who are all MK’s themselves, tackled the issue of identity in corporate worship gatherings and smaller group settings, where they shared memories of living overseas and talked through some of the things that may set them apart from other students.
Most importantly, Butler said, the retreat was an opportunity for MK’s to face the spiritual challenges that every college freshman experiences, but that may be compounded for them. Because church and ministry have defined their lives up to this point, MK’s may be overwhelmed by other things that will compete for their time as college students.
Kayla Carruthers is an MK from Botswana; her parents are Illinois Baptists Kelly and Ann Carruthers. When she starts school at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., she’ll take with her lessons she learned at the retreat about relying fully on God for all her needs.
“We’ve talked about how it can’t be done without God, and that is one of the challenging things, because as humans we have a tendency to think we can do it on our own, or we isolate ourselves from God and everybody else,” Carruthers said. “He’s the one Person that stays constant.”
Butler said MK’s may fight the same stereotype that the children of pastors face, that they should have every spiritual question figured out because of how they’ve grown up. But just like every other freshman, they need space and support to grow into their faith as college students.
Illinois Baptists will offer that kind of support this year, as mission groups, Sunday School classes and families adopted each MK, committing to pray for them, send them care packages, and serve as a resource during their transition time. They also provided much-needed items, like sheets, towels and school supplies. Each student at the retreat received new linens and a backpack, along with a coffee mug or water bottle from their new school.
Butler encouraged Illinois Baptists across the state to pray for the students as they adjust to school, answer some big identity questions and find a local church. For more information about supporting missionaries or MK’s, contact Butler at (217) 391-3143 or SerenaButler@IBSA.org.
How I Decide When To Give
When someone asks you for a donation, or to give a special offering, how do you decide whether to give, or how much to give? That’s what I asked myself recently as we were preparing promotion materials for this year’s Illinois Mission Offering. With all the good causes out there, and all the questionable ones, how do you decide when something or someone deserves your financial support?
There are four questions I’ve found useful in making sure my gifts and offerings are pleasing to the Lord. But before I share them, I’d like to say that I always prioritize a tithe through my church, and that’s what I would encourage every devoted Christian to do. I’m grateful to be a member of a church that, in turn, gives 10 percent through the Cooperative Program, and so at least a dime out of every dollar I give goes through my church, to join the gifts of other cooperating churches and support more than 10,000 missionaries both here in America and around the world.
But what about those additional opportunities to give, beyond a tithe to my local church? Here’s what I ask myself:
1. Does it carry the gospel? There are a lot of good causes out there that help someone personally, or relieve human suffering, or somehow make the world a better place. And sometimes digging a well, or building a house, or offering services to a community can also lead to sharing the gospel, but not always.
It disappoints me when I’m in a church that promotes an offering or fundraiser to do the same kinds of social work that governments or secular charities do. I think it’s always worth asking, “Will this gift help people hear about Jesus?”
2.Does it work through a local church or churches?
Again, there are a lot of good organizations out there that can be trusted and are being used by God. But the Bible teaches that the church is the Holy Spirit’s primary channel for bringing redemption to the world today.Even missionaries and missions agencies should be ministry extensions of a local church or churches.
So I believe the best gifts I can give are those that help local churches evangelize, make disciples, effectively minister in their communities, and go on mission to the world where they multiply into new churches. And I wonder sometimes why there are so many organizations doing separately the work that the local church is called to do. I think it’s worth asking, “Will this gift strengthen and work through local churches as they pursue their Biblical mission?”
3.Do those I’m supporting believe and communicate the same Biblical doctrine I do? In the seventeen years I worked at Christianity Today, Inc., I learned how diverse Christianity can be, and yet how united many churches from varied denominations are in their general evangelical commitment.
Christians and evangelicals in particular can work together on any number of causes that are moral, social, or even political. But when it comes to supporting evangelism and missions, which is where I want most of my giving to go, it’s important to me to partner with those who are communicating the same Biblical doctrine that I believe.
I want my missions dollar to spread the gospel, but also to make disciples that believe the Bible is completely true and trustworthy, that salvation is through faith in Christ alone, and accomplished by His grace. I want them to understand the autonomous nature of the local church and the priesthood of all believers, and to see baptism by immersion into a local fellowship as the Biblical model. In other words, I think it’s worth asking, “Will this gift not only share the gospel, but share Biblical – and in my case Baptist – doctrine as it makes disciples?”
4. Do I trust the people I’m assisting, and are they effective? I hate to say it, but there are people and causes that meet the above three criteria that don’t meet this one. Sometimes Well-intentioned, Christian people simply don’t have their act together, or don’t operate with the efficiency or integrity that inspires confidence. I think it’s worth asking, “Can I trust these people to be good, effective stewards of my gift?”
I’m happy to report that, when it comes to the Illinois Mission Offering, the answer to all four of these questions is a resounding “yes.” I’ll write more about this in the next issue. But as you begin praying and considering how the Lord might lead you to give to the IMO this year, please be assured that your gift carries the gospel, works through local churches, joins fellow Baptists in teaching the same Biblical doctrine you believe, and is stewarded by some of the finest, hardest working leaders I’ve ever known.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and may be contacted at NateAdams@ IBSA.org.
The 'Dash' & The Brevity Of Life
Thom S. Rainer
When my son, Art Rainer, began work on the book we co-authored, “Simple Life,” he spent a good bit of time in a cemetery.
That’s right. A cemetery.He found a cemetery near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., and simply walked from grave marker to grave marker. Listen to his simple explanation for this strange type of research:
“I came to this cemetery to gain perspective.I could not think of a more inspirational location than to be surrounded by those whose earthly story had come to an end. If they could, what would they tell us? Now that their lives are over, what wisdom would they want to pass on? What were their regrets? Where did they get it right? Though the sands of time in my life’s hourglass are still running for me, with every breath I breathe, I am moving toward my physical closure.
“My body will become like theirs.“On each grave marker is a dash between two years. The dash is time, and that is where we are, in our dash. And before there is some year placed on the other end, we need to figure this thing out."
This past week was tough. My older brother, Sam Rainer, had open heart surgery. The surgery went well. The road to recovery looked great. But two days later he had a stroke.
As I sat next to him in the intensive care unit, I reflected about our family. Our parents died years ago. Our sister died as an infant. In our original family, it’s just the two of us. And there he was with a newly repaired heart dealing with the aftermath of a stroke in the intensive care unit.
The dash got really rough for him this week.
I love my brother. But we haven’t spent a lot of time together the past several years. Our families have grown. We both have grandchildren.And we both have jobs that keep us busy.
But sitting next to him in ICU, I realized how much I missed him. And I prayed for his recovery and healing.Most of the prayers were for him, but some of them were selfish prayers. I want to spend time with him. I want to have long conversations with him.
I need to work on my dash.I turned 56 years old several days ago. How did I get this old this quickly? By actuarial standards, I’ve entered the fourth quarter of my life. But the end could come much quicker.The dash will have a number on its right side in the blink of an eye.
How am I doing in the dash? Pretty good, but not good enough. My lack of time with my brother the past few years was a clear reminder that I sometimes get too busy for my own good.
So how are you doing in your dash? Are you spending lots of time with your family? Are you spending time with God in prayer and His Word? Are you cherishing and developing your friendships?
How are you doing in your job? Are you joyous in your work? Or are you miserable, fearful of taking a chance somewhere else for the wrong reasons?
Do you have broken relationships that need to be restored? Do you need to take the initiative to see those relationships healed?
Are you so busy doing “things” that you fail to take time to do the things that really matter? Do you need to call or write someone? Do you need to go see someone?
How would someone else view your dash? Would they see you as a joyous person, full of life and energy? Or would they view you as hypercritical, never happy, never satisfied?
How is your dash? Mine could use some improvement.
And please pray for my brother.
That’s one part of my dash where I pray I’ll be given another chance to get it right.
Thom S. Rainer is president of Life- Way Christian Resources. This column first appeared at ThomRainer.com.
Three Accept Christ At Boy's Missions Camp At Streator
Lisa Sergent, contributing editor
STREATOR | Three campers accepted Christ as their savior at this year’s Boys’ Missions Camp held at Streator Baptist Camp July 25-
29. The camp gave over 40 boys and their leaders the opportunity to learn about missions, study the Bible and grow in their walk with Christ.
The camp’s theme, “Beyond Survivors,” focused on Hebrews 12:1-
2. International Mission Board missionaries to Chile, Dick and Trisha Price, illustrated the theme by sharing accounts of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days after a cave-in last August. The missionaries compared the experience of the miners rescue to how Christ can rescue each of us from sin.
In addition to Bible study and learning about missions, the campers from grades 3-12 enjoyed outdoor activities such as swimming, canoeing, mini golf, archery, bike riding and camp-wide games.
Mark Emerson, IBSA director of Missions Involvement and Boys’ Camps coordinator, said, “It was exciting to watch boys do a lot of firsts at camp; first to catch a fish, to shoot a gun, to shoot a bow and arrow, to launch a rocket and for some to spend a week away from home.”
The camp was led by Curtis Starner, pastor of Erven Avenue Baptist Church in Streator, and Chad Ozee, pastor of Journey Church in Bourbonnais.
Emerson was pleased about the large group that attended this year’s camp in the northern part of the state. “We were really encouraged with the number of boys who participated this year in the Boys’ Mission Camp. Having a larger group made the camp more exciting for all those involved.”
For more information about IBSA Missions Camps, call (217) 391-3138 or e-mail BarbTroeger@IBSA.org.
Church Librarians To Visit Lincoln Presidential Library; Learn From Life Way Library Specialist
SPRINGFIELD | Illinois Baptist librarians will visit Abraham Lincoln’s hometown and tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library at this year’s Church Library Conference in Springfield. The conference, hosted by Illinois Baptist State Association Education and Leadership Ministries, will be held September 23-24. In addition to church librarians, church and associational historians and members of churches interested in starting their own church library are also encouraged to attend.
The “behind the scenes” tour of the Lincoln Presidential Library will begin on Friday at 2 p.m. and be led by Dennis Suttles, a Genealogy Research Librarian at the library and a member of Chatham Baptist Church. The group tour will include the Microfilm Lab, Conservation, Cataloging, Audio-Visual, Manuscripts, Newspapers, the Steve Neal Reading Room and the basement “stacks.” Librarians are encouraged to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, located across the street, after the conclusion of the tour.
Conference sessions will begin Saturday morning at the IBSA Building and feature Jeanne Tucker, Church Library Ministry Specialist, LifeWay Church Resources. Tucker, the featured guest speaker, will also lead breakout sessions on preserving church history.
Other conference leaders include IBSA Church Library Specialist Deb Bier, librarian, Illinois Central College, and Susan Full, library ministry director for Capital City Baptist Association.
Bier’s breakout sessions will feature lessons on how to select the right books and media materials for your church library and useful websites for church librarians.
Full will lead a make-it/take-it session for hands-on church library promotion and share how to encourage library use, improve reading skills and promote spiritual growth through the use of church reading clubs.
Librarians will also have the opportunity to participate in group discussions and a book swap.
Rooms are available at the Hampton Inn (adjacent to the IBSA Building) by calling (217) 529-1100. Ask for the IBSA Library Block to receive a discounted rate of $68 per room.
The cost to attend the conference, which includes lunch on Saturday, is $20. The deadline to register is September 16. The Abraham Lincoln Historical Library is located at 112 North 6th Street. Conference sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and end at 2 p.m. The IBSA Building is located at 3085 Stevenson Drive. For more information call (217) 391- 3126 or e-mail DebbieMuller@ IBSA.org.