IB: Reaching Across Illinois - Sharing the Gospel through attractional evangelistic events
By Meredith Flynn
SPRINGFIELD | What do block parties, fall festivals, wild game dinners, family nights and evangelistic crusades have in common?
Each is a vehicle used by churches across Illinois to share the Gospel with their neighbors. And in 2012, each has a place in Reaching Across Illinois, an evangelism emphasis that challenges IBSA churches to plan and implement attractional evangelistic events so that more people in their communities might hear and respond to the Gospel.
Reaching Across Illinois Is part of God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS), a multi-year plan with a goal of every person in North America hearing the Gospel by 2020. In 2010, the North American Mission Board and state Baptist conventions partnered together to implement GPS, and every two years, the emphasis changes slightly to include different ways to share the Gospel. In 2010 and 2011, Illinois Baptist churches prayerwalked and canvassed their neighborhoods with invitations to Easter Sunday services. This year, the focus is on attractional evangelistic events.
Churches are encouraged to plan at least three events throughout the year, said IBSA’s Evangelism Director Tim Sadler, with September and October serving as special months of emphasis across the state.
“In Illinois, we have designated September as a month of prayer and fasting for lives to be changed as a result of Reaching Across Illinois.”
To prepare for the prayer and fasting component, Sadler created Choose2, a prayer emphasis that asks Illinois Baptists to pray specifically for two family members, friends or co-workers who do not have a relationship with Christ.
Following the month of prayer and fasting, October is designated as a month for simultaneous Reaching Across Illinois events. Churches and associations are encouraged to plan events tailored to their communities’ specific needs and circumstances. IBSA also will help plan and host several state-wide events, including three regional evangelistic crusades in Northern, Central and Southern Illinois. Churches are needed in each of the three regions to help plan and conduct the crusades.
IBSA also will hold an event for sportsmen in the southern region of the state and a men’s retreat in Chicagoland. More information about these events will be made available at IBSA.org/GPS for churches and associations interested in getting involved.
IBSA’s Evangelism team will offer support in planning the attractional evangelistic events, Sadler said. “We will train churches in how to do the events, from planning and budgeting to promotion, production and followup He added that IBSA can also connect churches with IBSA staff members and Illinois missionaries to serve as event guest speakers when needed.
Later this year, Sadler will launch an online calendar listing events across the state at IBSA.org/GPS. He hopes the calendar will foster partnerships between churches seeking to increase the scope of their events by working with other Illinois Baptist churches.
The North American Mission Board also offers resources for planning events at gps2020.net. Along with a planning toolkit and national event calendar, the site includes templates for several types of attractional events, including seasonal celebrations, sports events, block parties, revivals, and special ministries for families.
For more information about Reaching Across Illinois, or to be involved in any of the regional events, contact Tim Sadler at (217) 391- 3131 or TimSadler@IBSA.org.