Illinois Baptist 10 24 2016 E Edition Page 2

ecently I was invited to western Kentucky to speak at the 204th anniversary celebration of the small, country church where my great-grandfather is buried, 12 miles from where I was born. When this church was established in 1812, James Madison was President, and George Washington had been dead less than 13 years. There are not many churches in Illinois that old three, by my count. A lot of people focus on what makes a church grow, but my experience at this country church made me think instead about what makes a church last. Heres what I observed. First, a church lasts when it is solidly anchored in the Bible. Some churches today put a lot of energy into services or programs that at- tract people and meet needs. Those can be good things, of course, unless they degener- ate into mere social services that dont deliver the life- changing gospel and truth of Gods word. I had the privilege of reading my sermon text that morning from my great- frandfathers KJV Bible that I inherited from my grandpar- ents. Together, this enduring congregation and I looked into Gods enduring Word for guid- ance. Second, a church lasts when it is connected by family. I want to be careful with my compliment here, because there can be perils in a church connected by family as well as strengths. Some churches allow their family ties and motivations to trump whats best for the church and its mission to the world. But when multiple generations and branches of a family or fami- lies stay devoted to the same church over time, they can bring that church a remarkable resilience along with deep connections and commitment. After all, I was there for the sake of my great-grandfather. And I met, for the first time that Sunday, my second cousin, who now farms the fields my freat-grandfather farmed. Third, a church lasts when it has faithful, optimistic leader- ship. This churchs current pastor is retired, and in fact invested several years in southern Illinois as a contem- porary of my dad. Yet he was ener- fetic, enthusiastic, and personableand clearly loved and trusted. With a twinkle in his eye, he introduced me to lay leaders and to children and students who were participating in the service that morning. His own effec- tive leadership is being skillfully discipled into the churchs future leaders. And finally, a church lasts when it doesn't quit. Im writing this the day after the Chicago Cubs won their division series over the San Francisco Giants, with a dramatic, 4-run comeback in the top of the ninth inning. It was the day after a 13-inning loss to those same opponents. After their emotional victory, the team spontaneously gathered on the pitchers mound and chanted, We dont quit. We dont quit! At the risk of stating the obvious, a church that lasts simply refuses to quit. They may not be large, or wealthy, or exceptionally gifted, but they are steadfast. Year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation, and sometimes century after century, they simply stay at it. I probably could have suggested a few growth principles to this church that might have helped them. But this wasnt a day for me to teach them how to reach 200 in attendance. It was a day for them to teach me how to reach 200 in endurance. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org. Why churches last NATE ADAMS 2 IBSA.org Illinois Baptist Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 10/14/16 $4,660,220 Budget Goal: $4,967,308 Received to date in 2015: $4,750,027 2016 Goal: $6.3 Million 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 In an increasingly secular culture, the Bible remains a highly regarded and well-read text among the vast majority of American teens-most of whom believe it to be sacred." David Kinnaman, Barna Group Teens in The Word Teens' motivations for reading the Bible: How often, if ever, do you actually read the Bible, not including times when you are at a church service or church event? The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Sergent Editorial Contributors - Meredith Flynn Morgan Jackson - Barna.org, Sept. 2016 3+1+1+9+0+8+1+7 11% Every day What a visit to an old family church taught me about endurance. Why they're reading 11% 37% Several times/4+ times a week Once a week Once a month Three or four times a year Once or twice a year Less than once a year Never 3% 9% 10% 8% 4+2+0+8+6+0 54% 12% 10% 8% 6% 11% It brings me closer to God I know I'm supposed to It is part of my studies at school I need comfort I have a problem I need to solve or I need direction Some other reason R Nate Adams (left) with his mother, Romelia , and members of New Bethel Baptist Church near Eddyville, Kentucky. At the church's 204th an- niversary celebration, Mrs. Adams presented an old newspaper article about the church's 1812 founding that she recently unearthed.

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