Highland Avenue matches CP giving commitment with missions going
Editor’s note: October is Cooperative Program emphasis month in the Southern Baptist Convention.
ROBINSON, Ill. | Dwight McDaniel and the church he pastors, Highland Avenue Baptist Church in Robinson, are a perfect match when it comes to the Cooperative Program (CP).
McDaniel, whose father and grandfather were Southern Baptist pastors, became pastor at Highland Avenue in Palestine Association four years ago. He brought with him a life-long commitment to the CP, Southern Baptists’ main avenue for supporting missions and ministries in North America and around the world.
In Highland Avenue, Mc- Daniel found a church with a history of faithful giving, and people able to see the connection between their giving and the spread of the Gospel.
“…They understand the Great Commission, to be part of that and reaching people,” McDaniel said. “They sense a very strong commitment to giving to the Cooperative Program, as it’s such a good program as far as helping meet the needs of people and fulfilling the Great Commission.”
Robinson is located in extreme eastern Illinois just a few miles from the Indiana border. McDaniel said even with the rollercoaster U.S. economy, his community’s economic situation has stayed fairly steady. Many Robinson residents are employed by Hershey Chocolate, Marathon Oil, or the Robinson Correctional Center, all enterprises that have weathered the economy relatively well.
The church, which runs between 200 and 260 on Sundays, currently gives 14.5 percent of its undesignated gifts to the Cooperative Program. They are consistently in the top 20 IBSA churches in CP giving. Along with special offerings like the Illinois Mission Offering, and seasonal emphases like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, McDaniel regularly communicates the importance of CP giving to his congregation.
He uses CP-themed bulletin inserts from IBSA to foster a sense of participation among people who might be newer to Highland Avenue or to Southern Baptist Life.
“I know they don’t always understand what the Cooperative Program is,” McDaniel said. …We’re able to put something in their hand when they come in [that says] ‘This is where those monies are going; we’re planting churches and starting collegiate ministries.’
“It helps them understand the principle behind what we’re doing.”
McDaniel said he is committed to the Cooperative Program largely because of its effectiveness.
“It’s a priority to me because I feel like, with all the programs there are to meet needs, the Cooperative Program is the most diverse in meeting all the needs adequately. For instance, we know our missionaries don’t have to wonder whether the money’s going to be there or not. …I like that.”
To go along with their commitment to missions giving, McDaniel has encouraged His church to “go” on mission as well. Each year, they create a calendar that lists missions opportunities in each of their Acts 1:8 mission fields.
This year, they helped clean up their local association’s campground, and established men’s and women’s care groups to meet immediate needs in Robinson. The church also participated in IBSA’s annual Missions Spectacular event, which sends volunteers on one-day projects across the state.
Globally, the church sent volunteers to Haiti to be part of Baptist Global Response’s Haiti Rebuild effort to construct homes in the aftermath of 2010’s massive earthquake.
“The history has been that we’ve given well,” McDaniel said. “I want us to equate that with practical missions.”
For more information about the Cooperative Program, go to cpmissions.net. To request resources for your church, call (217) 391-3109 or e-mail MartyKing@IBSA.org.
SBC Exec. Committee presents 1% CP challenge
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) | The Southern Baptist Executive Committee has asked executive directors of the 42 Southern Baptist state conventions to “encourage their churches to give 1% more to the Cooperative Program in support of the Executive Committee president’s 1% Challenge, and in doing so, further enhance God’s work worldwide.”
During the 2011 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Executive Committee President Frank Page set forth the “1% Challenge,” a renewal of commitment to unified ministry by Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program.
EC members meeting in Nashville Sept. 20-21 watched a video showing that a 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving from SBC churches would add $100 million to CP. The video explained that in 2010, Southern Baptist Convention churches gave an average of 5.8 percent to the Cooperative Program, totaling about $500 million. If Southern Baptist churches gave 6.8 percent, that total would be nearly $600 million.
A small increase on the part of many churches would allow hundreds of churches to be planted across the United States, Page said. Internationally, 380 missionaries could be commissioned to join the task of reaching the 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups worldwide. A 1 percent increase could boost seminary student enrollment by 16,000 students.
The “1% Challenge” video is available for viewing on the Internet at cpmissions.net and downloadable at vimeo.com/27051737.
Page will join IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams in leading the Wednesday evening session of this year’s IBSA Annual Meeting. The meeting will focus on “Churches Cooperating” to reach their Acts 1:8 mission fields.
For more information about the IBSA Annual Meeting, go to www.IBSA.org/annualmeeting.
Illinois Baptists serve in Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH, Pa. | Dale Davenport might have left Pittsburgh, but part of his heart is still there. Davenport was an associate pastor in Pittsburgh for eight years before coming home to Illinois, where he serves as IBSA’s Education and Leadership Development director.
For the past three years, he has returned to the Pennsylvania city, leading a team of Illinois Baptists to provide training based on the Churches of Strength conferences offered across Illinois. The mission trips are part of a multi-year partnership between IBSA and the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
Illinois and Pennsylvania have several things in common. They’re similar in size, even closer in population, And both anchored by metropolitan areas near their borders.
But at least one thing is very different: Illinois is home to nearly 1,000 Southern Baptist churches, and Pennsylvania has approximately 400. Since 2008, Illinois Baptists have partnered with the Baptist Convention Of Pennsylvania/South Jersey to provide ministry resources and training so that more of Pennsylvania’s 12. 6 million residents might hear and respond to the Gospel. The partnership will continue through 2012.
In September, a team including Davenport, fellow IBSA staff members Steve Hamrick, Sylvan Knobloch and Tim Sadler, and Al and Darlene Leatherwood from First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, traveled to Pennsylvania to serve in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Working with the Pennsylvania/South Jersey state convention, the Illinois volunteers organized training sessions for groups of leaders in both cities, and also partnered with local churches to offer One-on-one consultations.
“They were really hungry for leadership training,” Davenport said of the Pennsylvania leaders who attended his workshop on effective habits for small group facilitators. “They wanted to know how to be better leaders, so they can reach the people they’re not yet reaching.”
Knobloch shared church budgeting tips and answered questions about pastor salaries, administrative processes and legal issues.
“They had questions, and we gave them plenty of time to talk,” Knobloch said. He added that his training time also included opportunities to talk about the Cooperative Program, and to encourage pastors to engage the SBC’s method of supporting missions efforts of state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.
In other sessions, Hamrick explored general trends in worship and music, as well as practical tips like how to prepare an order of worship. He also trained leaders in how to communicate with different audiences through social media.
Sadler taught several workshops on discipleship, including the New Testament picture of discipleship, emphasizing evangelism, and developing Leaders in that area.
Along with the IBSA staff members, Darlene Leatherwood, who directs children’s ministry at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, shared suggestions with children’s and youth ministry leaders.
“She really helped them understand what needs to happen in those ministries to make the church stronger,” Davenport said. “She gave them ideas about resources, safety and curriculum.”
As they worked to enhance the efforts of a state convention staff that is smaller than Illinois’ but tasked with covering nearly the same number of miles, the Illinois volunteers returned with a new appreciation for resources God has provided and the opportunity to partner with other Southern Baptists.
“It was Kingdom work, where we might not see a reward this side of heaven,” Hamrick said. “It’s still worth doing…it’s investing in other people and trying to encourage them to hang onto their faith.”
For more information about missions opportunities in Pennsylvania/ South Jersey, contact IBSA’s missions team at (217) 391-3134 or e-mail RexAlexander@IBSA.org.
Cooperative Program at a crossroads
I find myself needing to write and speak more frequently about money and stewardship these days. I guess it’s because I sense we are approaching a crossroads, both as Southern Baptists and as Illinois Baptists. And how we choose to proceed may affect our Great Commission efforts for years to come.
This crossroads is about giving, and specifically missions giving through the Cooperative Program. And there are options at that crossroads that some appear to be taking already, but that I believe are far inferior to the historic road of missions cooperation that we’ve traveled since the CP was birthed in 1925.
One inferior option would be to allow the current downward trend in church giving through the Cooperative Program to continue. Nationally, CP giving has gradually declined from a nationwide average in 1998 of 8.1 percent (of total undesignated gifts) to just 5.9 percent in the most recent report. IBSA churches have fared slightly better, averaging 7.1 percent in 2010. But even that is down from our churches’ 9.3 percent in 2000.
It’s difficult to generalize and say where the percentage that’s not going To missions through the Cooperative Program in fact is going. But let’s assume for now that it is staying in the church budget and being spent locally. Staff and facilities are usually the largest portions of a church’s expenses, so perhaps this would indicate more staff, or more costly staff, or a more comfortable or useful facility.
None of those things are bad, nor are stronger church programs or expanded church resources, or anything that improves a church’s effectiveness. But even if it is simply more expensive to operate as a church these days, I would plead the case that the proportion of church budget spent within a church’s ministry itself should not increase at the expense of its missions investment.
There is a second inferior option to consider at our coming crossroads. That would be to embrace a “societal missions” approach, rather than one of “cooperative missions.”
These weren’t terms I heard a lot about as a layman so let me explain further. Societal missions refers to the practice of a church sending and supporting its own missionaries, or its own missions projects, rather than cooperating With other churches to do so. The concept is that only the local church should do these things, and not groups of churches or mission boards that act on behalf of the churches.
Churches that practice societal missions have much more direct control over their missions efforts, and their missions giving. But they can only do so much alone. Most medium sized churches can support only a handful of missionaries, and smaller churches can’t afford to fully support even one missionary. As a result, their view of the world and their involvement in it missionally is quite limited.
Frankly, I see more churches taking both of these “turns for the worse,” than I would like to see, or than I think is best for the Great Commission cause we share. As we approach this crossroads, I would urge you and your church not to look to the left or the right, but to continue straight ahead with renewed vigor down the path we’ve been on together since 1925 – the path of multiplied missions impact through the Cooperative Program.
Specifically, I am joining SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page in challenging IBSA churches to accept a “1% Challenge,” beginning next year, and in doing so to reverse the downward percentage trend in CP Giving. Whether your church currently gives 7 percent, or 11 percent, or 1 percent through the Cooperative Program, I hope you will prayerfully consider increasing your Great Commission giving through the CP by just one percentage point.
Dr. Page has pointed out that if Southern Baptists nationally increased their CP giving percentage by one point, nearly $100 million more would flow to state, national, and international missions, as well as seminary education and other cooperative ministries. Hundreds more churches could be started here in North America, and at least 380 more international missionaries could be sent to the 3,800 unengaged people groups of the world.
As you may have read recently in the Illinois Baptist, the North American Mission Board will reduce its funding through IBSA by $265,000 in 2012. I know it would be a miracle, but I would love to see those lost funds replaced with Illinois Baptist generosity, and at the same time send more on to the missions causes of the national SBC, including NAMB! There’s no better way to navigate this crossroads than with straight-ahead, renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program.
When sharing Christ, all barriers must fall
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) | Years ago, a missionary sat in the dirt with some pastors in post-revolution Zimbabwe.
The newly independent African nation was a dangerous place at the time. Chaos ruled in some areas. The missionary, Tom Elliff (now International Mission Board president), had found a spiritually responsive group of people in one such place.
“Who will pastor those people?” Elliff asked the church leaders. They looked at each other. Eyes clouded. Heads shook.
“We’re not going,” one pastor finally replied, speaking for the group. “People get shot down there. Just last week, someone was shot off the top of a bus.”
Another pastor reported that a missionary had been killed in the area recently.
“Well, at least we can pray,” Elliff said. So they prayed to the Lord of the harvest to send someone.
The meeting dismissed. Everyone left – except one young pastor, barely out of his teens. He limped slowly over to Elliff and said, “I’ll go.”
“Wait a minute,” Elliff cautioned, stealing a glance at the pastor’s thin legs. “You heard what they said about the danger, didn’t you?”
“I’ll go,” the young man repeated firmly. “But you’ve got to promise to bring me a bicycle. I had polio and I can’t walk very well. I’m about eight miles away, so walking out there is going to be tough.”
Elliff promised to bring the bicycle as soon as possible. He returned a few weeks later with a two-wheeler in tow.
“Where have you been?” the pastor demanded. “I’ve been walking out there and back on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Several people are awaiting baptism.”
Dumbfounded, Elliff stammered, “What about those stories of people getting shot?”
The young man smiled. “Brother,” he said, “if God could stop the mouths of the lions for Daniel, he can stop the muzzles of the guns for me.”
Elliff told that story at a recent appointment service for new missionaries. It illustrated the Apostle Paul’s case for missions in Romans 10:12-15: Even hobbled feet are beautiful when they bring good news. The young pastor answered the mission call when other “stronger” men refused. He also embodied Paul’s other point: In the age of Christ, all distinctions between Jews and Greeks, differing people groups, friends and enemies, family and strangers must fall. The Gospel invitation to God’s Kingdom is for all.
Missions, in contrast to sharing your faith with someone who looks, talks and thinks like you, involves crossing lines, some of which aren’t visible. They might be national borders, cultural and language barriers, racial and ethnic differences, religious divisions, sometimes physical danger zones like the one crossed by that young African pastor. Even in the barrier-blasting age of broadcast and social media, transmitting the Gospel to a previously untouched people usually requires personal, face-to-face, potentially risky contact.
But not everyone, even in evangelical circles, buys into that concept.
“People have different views of missions, religious people,” Elliff observed during the missionary appointment service. “Not everybody is for it. Well, they’re ‘for it,’ but they’re not for it. … When it comes down to saying it involves your being His hands, being His heart, being His voice, that’s a little costly.” Especially if it costs you your home, your culture, possibly your life.
I was bemused recently by a journalist who cautioned his readers about folks who embrace a “literal reading” of Matthew 28:19-20, Christ’s call to make disciples among all nations. Please. What other coherent reading is there for this passage? Either Jesus said it or He didn’t. If He said it, He clearly intended it as an action plan for the Spread of His church among all peoples. It flows seamlessly from God’s promise – 2,000 years before Christ – to bless “all the families of the earth” through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 12:3b).
The Gospel’s most powerful foes, however, aren’t skeptical journalists, hostile cultures or persecution. They are believers who don’t take the message seriously enough to share it across any and every barrier. The Good News isn’t Good News if it never arrives.
I don’t know about you. But if someone hadn’t “used means” to share Jesus with a wretch like me, I’d still be lost – and probably dead. God help me not to ignore others in similar circumstances.
Erich Bridges is an International Mission Board global correspondent.
Illinois Baptists invited to preview 2012 VBS curriculum
SPRINGFIELD | On October 29, Life- Way’s “Amazing Wonders Aviation” 2012 Vacation Bible School curriculum will fly into Illinois. VBS leaders from across the state will preview the 2012 VBS materials at the IBSA Building in Springfield from 8:30 a. m. until noon.
Jerry Wooley, Lifeway’s VBS specialist, will join IBSA’s Education and Leadership Ministries team to present a sample of daily Bible studies, videos, music, decorations and snacks centered on next year’s aviationthemed curriculum.
Participants also will preview “Space Quest,” the Club VBS theme that takes children on a trip into space using lessons from John 14:6.
“VBS is one of the most powerful evangelism tools we have, and it’s important to get a head start on how we can make it exciting, meaningful and Christ-centered,” said IBSA Education and Leadership Ministries Director Dale Davenport. “This preview is the first step in helping Illinois Baptists become aware and excited about what can happen next year through their VBS.”
According to reports from LifeWay, 169 Illinois Baptist churches held Vacation Bible Schools in 2010, impacting more than 18,000 participants.
In other VBS news, Debbie Muller, IBSA Church Strengthening Team ministry assistant, was named the “First Official Geek of the Week” by the LifeWay VBS Blog for her participation and enthusiasm for VBS. The blog can be viewed at lifewayvbs.wordpress.com.
The preview kicks off a VBS preparation season that includes four regional clinics throughout the state. For more information contact Cathy Waters at (217) 391-3124 or Cathy Waters@IBSA.org.
Student Conference brings mission opportunity to Springfield families
SPRINGFIELD | This fall, Illinois Baptists living in the Springfield area have an opportunity to take part in international missions while remaining in their own homes. Families are needed to host one or more students when they arrive in Springfield to participate in the Midwest International Student Conference Nov. 19-20.
More than 100 international students, largely Asian and from non- Christian backgrounds, who attend colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, have been invited to come to Springfield to stay in an American home, attend an IBSA church, tour Lincoln sites and experience an authentic Thanksgiving meal served at Springfield Southern Baptist Church. While they are in town to attend the conference, host families Will provide them with three meals, lodging, transportation and the opportunity to worship together in the host’s home church.
“It’s an opportunity for host families to learn firsthand about another culture, and to share their culture and faith,” said Serena Butler, IBSA’s Missions Awareness director. “It is also an excellent way to show them Christ’s love through the relationship they can build with them as they share a few meals and their home with the students. The highlight of the conference for many of the students is staying in the host family’s home.”
If your family would like to host an international student, contact (217) 391-3138 or e-mail BarbTroeger@IBSA.org.
Ministers’ wives to meet Nov. 2
SPRINGFIELD | Illinois Baptist ministers’ wives will explore “Building the Kingdom Together” during their annual luncheon Nov. 2 at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon.
Held in conjunction with the IBSA Annual Meeting and Pastors’ Conference, the luncheon will feature several speakers who will share their missions experiences:
- Wes Hahn, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport, and his wife Linda will speak about their experiences on mission in New Jersey.
- Carol Evaul will share about planting churches and ministering to a growing population through the Southern Illinois Hispanic Outreach Project (SIHOP), an initiative headed by her husband Bob.
- Susan Bynum, current president of the Ministers’ Wives’ Fellowship, will speak to the group about her experiences serving in Joplin, Mo., in the aftermath of May’s devastating tornado.
- Cyra Lohman, development director at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, will share with attendees about how they can engage with the CAC, which reaches out to children in one of the country’s most impoverished areas. Ministers’ wives in attendance are invited to bring the following items to donate to the CAC:
- polo-style shirts with short or long sleeves, light blue or white; children’s and adult sizes (new or gently used)
- solid black shoes with no more than 10 percent color (new or gently used)
- socks and underwear (children’s and adult sizes)
- toilet paper
- paper towels
Michelle Weaver from First Baptist Church, Vandalia, will lead worship during the luncheon. Attendees also are welcome to bring Christian books to swap.
Cost is $12 per person; make checks payable to the Ministers’ Wives’ Fellowship and send to Carol Evaul, 800 W. Wall St., Mulberry Grove, IL 62262. Registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 28.
Childcare will be provided at no cost at FBC O’Fallon. Pre-registration is preferred. To pre-register for childcare, call (217) 391-3111 or email KendraJackson@IBSA.org.
For more information, contact Susan Bynum at (618) 367-2984.
King to direct LifeWay corporate communications
SPRINGFIELD | Marty King, who has led IBSA’s communications team as associate executive director and Illinois Baptist editor since 2006, has accepted the role of Director of Corporate Communications for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.
King, who previously served both the Home Mission Board and its successor agency, the North American Mission Board, as director of corporate communications for 15 years, will lead a team responsible for all of LifeWay’s internal and external communications, including news media relations, Facts & Trends magazine, and a number of social media platforms. He will also serve as the organization’s corporate spokesman.
In a note to IBSA staff, King expressed his appreciation for Illinois Baptists and IBSA staff, including Executive Director Nate Adams, who he has worked with for more than 13 years.
“Marty is one of my closest friends and coworkers, and has been for years, and contemplating the possibility of him moving on from IBSA has not been easy for either of us,” Adams said. “But he and Barb have prayerfully come to the conclusion that these opportunities are part of the Lord’s leading in their lives.”
The Kings will move to Nashville following the IBSA Annual Meeting at the beginning of November.
“We will continue to pray for you as you serve each other and IBSA churches,” King said. “And, I would ask that you please remember me as I start this challenging new assignment and for both Barb and me as we begin the transition.”