Illinois Baptist 10 12 2015 E Edition Page 2

What are we foing to do? NATE ADAMS 2 IBSA.org Illinois Baptist ividly I remember my Dad talking about the final hours he spent with his mother, my grandma, in the hospital before she died. As she came to the end of her life, and was only semi-conscious, Grandma would occasionally rise up in her bed and say, What are we going to do? What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Dad said she would relax back into her pillow with these words: I guess well just trust the Lord. For devoted Southern Baptists, recent news from the International Mis- sion Board that as many as 600 to 800 missionaries soon need to return from the mission field leads us to that same, urgent question: What are we going to do? I submit that trusting the Lord is still the best and right answer. Let me suggest five specific ways we here Illinois can do that. First, we should pray. We should intercede for those in leadership at IMB as they make decisions, and for those missionaries and others who are affected by those decisions. We should pray for solutions, for generosity from givers and churches, and for the Lord to send laborers into the harvest fields, even as it seems the opposite may be happening. Second, we should trust the IMB trustees and executive staff to do their jobs. More than once over the years I have thought to myself that I would do things differently if I were in charge of some organization. Sometimes time proves me right, and sometimes time proves me wrong. But in our au- tonomous, cooperative family of churches we elect trustees to give oversight to the gifted and called leaders of our entities. They are closer to the facts, inances, and circumstances than any of us. And the Bible says that one of the ways we trust the Lord is to trust the leaders he providentially allows to have positions of authority. Third, we should renew and increase our churches commitment to missions through the Coopera- tive Program. Even the surges and higher levels of giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering over the past decade have apparently not been enough to prevent this down- sizing of the missionary force. But 10% giving through the Cooperative Program would have. Nationally, CP giving from SBC churches has dropped from an average of 10% in 1989 to 5.5% in 2014 (6.8% here in Illinois). If churches CP giving had continued to average at least 10% over those years, the number of international mis- sionaries would have grown dramatically, along with the rest of our coop- erative missions and ministries. Fourth, we should of course consider giving our most generous gifts ever through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. IMB says that will not change the need for many of the missionaries to return home. But it may speed the rate at which they can be replaced. And finally, as churches, associations, state conventions, and individual Christians, we should look for ways to directly assist the missionaries who will be returning stateside. Temporary housing, transportation, job place- ment, and personal encouragement will all be needed by returning mission- ary families. IBSA will be establishing a Missionary Relief Fund, and the offering received at this years IBSA Annual Meeting will be designated for that fund. I will also be contacting IMB with a list of IBSAs currently open positions. Many of us were surprised at the need for these missionaries to return home. But God is not. And so let us answer that urgent question with one or all of these very tangible actions that demonstrate we are trusting the Lord. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond to his column at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org. News that up to 800 missionaries may soon return from the field leads us to ask this urgent question. The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Managing Editor - Meredith Flynn Contributing Editor - Lisa Sergent Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Administrative Assistant - Andrea Hammond Intern - Morgan Jackson For questions about subscriptions, articles, or upcoming events, contact the Illinois Baptist at (217) 391-3110 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 . V Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 10/02/15 $4,514,900 Budget Goal: $4,800,000 Received to date in 2014: $4,588,069 2015 Goal: $6.2 Million CONVENTIONAL WISDOM Whether one believes this decline of 'Christian America' calls for a time of lament, or presents great opportunity (or both) for the church, one cannot help but accept the changing landscape... Across the U.S., cities in every state are becoming more post-Christian - some at a faster rate than others." - David Kinnaman, Barna culture: The top 15 "post-Christian" cities - Barna Research San Francisco, CA 66% 1 Albany, NY 66% Boston, MA 65% Burlington, VT 64% Providence, RI 60% Portland, ME 60% New York, NY 59% Las Vegas, NV 59% Hartford, CT 57% Buffalo, NY 57% Tucson, AZ 56% Seattle, WA 56% Fort Myers, FL 56% Chicago, IL 54% Los Angeles, CA 54% Champaign, Spfld., Decatur 42% Quad Cities 42% St. Louis, MO 41% Harrisburg, Mt. Vernon 34% 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 56 57 58 80 Chicago may be a new addition to the top 15, but the rest of Illinois isn't too far behind. 100% % Population who are Post-Christian based on faith/beliefs.

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