Illinois Baptist 08 22 2016 E Edition Page 2

ow is the time of year when most Illinois Baptist church- es are preparing to promote and receive the annual Mission Illinois Offering, which is devoted to ad- vancing the gospel among more than eight million lost people, right here in our state. Most of the time when we describe our mission priori- ties here in Illinois, we talk about the desperate need for new churches, especially in northern Illinois, and in large, lost cities like Chicago. And indeed, the MIO is helping start about 25 new churches every year. And many times we talk about the vast and strategic mission field of Illinois college cam- puses, where thousands and thousands of tomorrows American and international leaders are being trained, often with little or no expo- sure to the gospel. The MIO supports collegiate ministries too, on more than two dozen campuses. Your gift through the Mission Illinois Offering also helps support the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, and human need ministries like disaster and hunger relief, and IBSA-coordinated mission trips from Illinois to the ends of the earth. But I received a promotional e-mail the other day that reminded me we often dont talk enough about one of the most important ministries that the MIO makes possiblethe ongoing investment of our missionaries and staff in the health and evangelistic growth of IBSA churches. Local churches are our greatest missionary asset as Illinois Baptists, and our investment in their health, growth, and leaders is as important as planting new churches, reaching college campuses, or meeting human and spiritual needs. The e-mail was from a church consulting firm. It offered training over a 3-day period on topics like church health models, conflict resolution, over- coming barriers to church growth, and individual church leader development. I thought to myself, Thats what our staff does all the time! IBSA carefully measures our staffs time investment in training and con- sulting with local churches. Consis- tently we have had direct consultation with 750-800 churches each year. Considering that ministry is delivered primarily by about 20 traveling staff, that means each staff member is serv- ing an average of 40 churches, all year long! But what really caught my attention about the church consulting firm's letter was the cost of its 3-day training$950 per student, with a minimum of 15 students. That would be over $14,000 for three days of help. To do that for 800 churches would cost more than $11 million. Our Mission Il- linois Offering goal this year is $475,000. I realize thats not a precise apples-to-apples comparison, since Coopera- tive Program giving also funds our state mission work, and since IBSA does far more than training and consulting. But I hope it makes the point for you that it made for me. Every IBSA church has a staff of church health and frowth consultants at its disposal, and their help is valuable! Your churchs fifts through the MIO and CP enable that staff to be available for your and hundreds of other IBSA churchesweek in and week out. Sometimes it's awkward to ask for financial support. And maybe it's a little easier to ask churches to support church planting and missions than to point to the return on investment that churches also receive through training and consulting. But if you stop and think about the value of what your church both receives and provides for other churches through your state missions giving, I hope it will make you want to give a truly generous fift through the Mission Illinois Offering this year. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at Investing in churches NATE ADAMS 2 Illinois Baptist Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 08/12/16 $3,650,235 Budget Goal: $3,876,923 Received to date in 2015: $3,737,966 2016 Goal: $6.3 Million 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 In August, Pope Francis decried the fact that school-age children are being encouraged to "choose" their gender. Only about a third of Americans-and a little over half of evangelicals-agree with that position, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. cultural shift on gender Just over half of evangelical Christians believe its morally wrong to identify with a different gender than one's biological sex, followed by several other faith groups: It is morally wrong for an individual to identify with a gender different than the sex they were born. The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Sergent Editorial Contributors - Meredith Flynn Morgan Jackson - LifeWay Research, July 2016 N 100% 5+5+4+6 45% 35% 14% Agree Disagree It's not a moral issue 6% Not sure Evangelicals Non-Christian faiths Catholics Non-religious 20% 26% 35% 54% mission illinois offering MIO supports our greatest missionary asset: the local church. the evangelical view

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