Illinois Baptist 01 15 2018 E Edition Page 2

he recent holiday season gave me a little more time than usual to watch football on TV. As the regular season gave way to playoffs and bowl games, it seemed pre-game ana- lysts spent increasing amounts of time discussing what it will take to win the next, tougher game. The more seri- ous the consequence of the game, and the fewer games that remain, the more critical it seems to be able to think, and not just play. Yet as Ive listened to experts talk again and again about what it takes to be successful, it seems they often come back to the same basic advice. Focus on fundamentals. Block and tackle well. Everyone do your assign- ment. Establish the ground game. Everything else you need for success will flow from there. In these big games, will there be an occasional trick play, or a key turnover, or a missed call that influences the game? Probably. But ev- eryone seems to agree that the best you can do to prepare for victory is simply get back to the basics. I found myself wondering if there is a reminder, even an exhortation, for churches to consider here. Among the most basic practices of Baptist churches as we follow the Lord and pursue his mission are celebrations of the Lords Supper and believers baptism. Yet these can sometimes seem like occasional, even rare, ceremonies, rather than the very blocking-and- tackling basics on which the rest of church life is built. More than an occasional or routine ceremony, the Lords Supper was given to us to be a time of frequent, intimate church fellowship and wor- ship, one that draws each participant to introspection and confession of sin, and to a carefully considered reminder of the price Jesus paid for that sin. The Lords Supper is, in itself, a symbol-rich proclamation of the gospel message, one that should, each time, lead us to humble worship and grati- tude, and fresh motivation to live out our salvation and to share Jesus with others. What if we got that basic right, every one of us, in every church, every time we celebrated the Lords Supper? If we did, I think it would have a dramatic effect on the other, more neglected, basic of baptism. Think of it this way: What if a church were to schedule baptism celebrations as often as it scheduled Lords Supper celebrations? More importantly, what if that church adjusted all its other priorities with the goal of see- ing at least one person baptized by that time? In fact, what if the church filled its baptistery on that date, no matter what? If no one was ready to be baptized, the church would simply pray in lament over the unstirred waters, and ask the Lord to guide them to a dif- ferent result next time. If the core, blocking-and-tackling tasks of the church are to remember the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, and continue his mission of seeking and saving the lost, then maybe we need to get back to the basics of the Lords Supper and baptism. Maybe we need to let them drive our churches priori- ties and resources and schedules more than the things that drive them now. As the football analysts remind us at this time of year, the closer we get to the end, and the fewer days that remain, the more critical it is to reflect carefully on what it takes to be truly effective in our mission. That careful reflection will almost always lead us back to the basics, and then forward to victory. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at Back to basics NATE ADAMS Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists The general telephone number for IBSA is (217) 786-2600. For questions about subscriptions, articles, or upcoming events, contact the Illinois Baptist at (217) 391-3119 or . The Illinois Baptist is seeking news from IBSA churches. E-mail us at to tell us about special events and new ministry staff. POSTMASTER: The Illinois Baptist is owned and published every three weeks by the Illinois Baptist State Association, 3085 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-4440. Subscriptions are free to Illinois Baptists. Subscribe online at . CONVENTIONAL WISDOM The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Managing Editor - Meredith Flynn Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Misner Sergent Multimedia Journalist - Andrew Woodrow Administrative Assistant - Leah Honnen T 2 Illinois Baptist the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 12/31/17 $5,929,597 Budget Goal: $6,300,000 Received to date in 2016: $6,073,405 2017 Goal: $6.3 Million Now is the time to consider what it takes to be truly effective in our mission. Life as we knew it In general, countries that are more upbeat about their national economy are more likely to say life today is better compared with the past." - Pew Research Pew asked people in 38 countries whether life in their country is better or worse today than it was 50 years ago for people like them: - Pew Research, Dec. 2017 In the U.S., 41% of people say life is worse now than 50 years ago, while 37% say it's better. Better Worse Vietnam India South Korea Japan Germany Turkey Venezuela Mexico Tunisia Jordan Colombia Lebanon Nigeria 88% 69% 68% 65% 10% 13% 27% 18% 27% 30% 41% 4% 17% 15% 20% 21% 72% 68% 60% 57% 54% Does your church need help reaching more people and increasing baptisms? Accept the Pioneering Spirit challenge at

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