Illinois Baptist 09 25 2017 E Edition Page 2

fter my dad's mother died, I remember him saying that he phys- ically felt the absence of her prayers. Dad had, in some ways, a challenging personality for pastoring. He was introverted, in many ways non-assertive, a quiet thinker and reader who scripted his sermons by hand so that he could deliver them effectively. So, if you only knew my dad personally, you may have been surprised when you first saw him step into the pulpit, or witnessed him in some other pastoral role. He was wise, articulate, bold, insightful, truly helpful. As a pastor, he was supernaturally equipped for the role to which God had called him, in a way that eclipsed his natural limitations. And I believe this was supernaturally sustained by the de- voted prayers of people who supported him over the years, his mother and my mother chief among them. Our pastors need our sincere and earnest prayer. They need us to intercede spiritually for them, every bit as much as they need us to support them in leading the ministries of our church. Not all pastors face the same challenges that my dad did, but all of them face their own unique struggles and obstacles. If it is primarily those closest to them that sustain them in prayer, just think what could happen with an entire church ear- nestly praying. October is Pastor Appreciation Month. If this is not already your practice, let me encourage you to take the month of October to pray for your pastor, and perhaps other pastors you know, daily. At the IBSA.org website, there will be a daily prayer guide to assist you in that discipline. You will not be alone. Throughout October, our IBSA staff will be pray- ing for every IBSA church pastor, by name. We are also asking for specific prayer requests by e-mail, and personally calling more than 300 pastors for whom we don't have a current e-mail address, to ask them how we can pray. I hope many pastors will share specific prayer needs, perhaps some that are difficult to share with church members, and will allow us to pray for them personally in this way. For those from whom we don't receive specific requests, we will simply use the prayer guide to pray for each pastor. Many churches give gifts and other expressions of love to their pastors during October. Prayer, especially consistent, daily prayer, is one of the greatest appreciation gifts you can give. When something appreciates, it increases in value. And I believe that the sincere, consistent prayers of a congregation will increase the value of a pastor more than anything else. And by the way, that's true even when you may personally struggle with your pastor! In a recent IBSA chapel, we were talking about praying for pastors. Our state worship director, Steve Hamrick, shared about his dad, also a pastor, who prayed for him daily throughout his ministry. When his dad passed away a few years ago, his father-in-law noted at the funeral how special that prayer relationship was, and committed to him to take up the privilege of praying for Steve from that day forward. During that same chapel, Steve led us in singing the old Ricky Skaggs song, Somebody's Prayin'. The first two lines of that song are simply, Somebody's prayin', I can feel it. Somebody's prayin' for me. IBSA pastors, I will be one of those somebodies praying for you through- out the month of October, along with every member of our staff. I hope you feel it in the same way that my dad did from his mom. And I hope you will feel it from many faithful church members as well. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org. Somebody's prayin' 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 IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org . The Illinois Baptist is seeking news from IBSA churches. E-mail us at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org 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 IBSA.org . CONVENTIONAL WISDOM The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Misner Sergent Editorial Contributor - Meredith Flynn Administrative Assistant - Leah Honnen A 2 IBSA.org Illinois Baptist the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 9/15/17 $4,192,898 Budget Goal: $4,482,692 Received to date in 2016: $4,218,838 2017 Goal: $6.3 Million Pastors need our sincere and earnest intercession. Small church, big commitment There's no single approach or strategy that leads to more converts in small churches. Instead, it appears that doing a lot of small things really adds up." - Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research LifeWay Research asked pastors of evangelical and Black Protestant churches with an average worship attendance of 250 or less: In the past 12 months, how many people have indicated a new commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior through your church? 0-4 new commitments 8 +2+0+3+7 22% 38% 20% 13% - LifeWay Research, Aug. 2017 8% 5-9 new commitments 10-19 new commitments 20+ new commitments Not sure How they grow Researchers identified ways small churches attract and retain more new converts, including: Holding classes for new attenders Committing a healthy portion of the church budget to evangelism and missions Serving outside the church to share the gospel with unchurched people Having the pastor set up specific hours to share the gospel

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