More than 200 IBSA ministry leaders gathered Jan. 22-23 in Springfield for the annual Illinois Leadership Summit. The summit’s large-group sessions and breakouts were focused on revitalizing churches and renewing their commitment to reach their neighbors with the gospel.
“Reimagine” was the theme for the conference, which featured teaching by Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting for the North American Mission Board, and breakout sessions on 15 topics facilitated by Illinois ministry leaders.
Clifton, whose work is focused on helping declining churches find a way forward, shared some sobering statistics with summit attenders. The Southern Baptist Convention loses 900 churches each year, he said, and the vast majority are in places where the population actually grew. Churches that die, Clifton said, resent their community for not responding as they once did, and withdraw.
“Churches, you’ve got to become a part of the community,” Clifton said. “The community is not there for the church. Lost people don’t want to come grow with you. The church is there to bless and serve the community.”
He also warned against confusing care for the community with care for outdated programs or a church building. “By staying busy we anesthetize the pain of death. It’s easier to change the furnace filter than break the missional code of the apartment building down the street.”
Apart from the large-group collective sessions, summit attenders had four opportunities to attend breakout sessions on topic including specific mission opportunities, leadership development, and the leader’s personal spiritual life.
Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, led small-group sessions on the things a leader ought to be, and the things a leader ought to do. “Spiritual disciplines still matter,” he told attenders, urging them to prioritize their personal spiritual development. He also urged leaders to be passionate go-getters working toward the ultimate purpose of getting the gospel to people everywhere.
“We have the most passionate belief system and message in the world,” Munton said.
In her breakout session on leadership, IBSA’s Carmen Halsey encouraged ministry leaders to be mindful of the inevitable gap between what they know and what they don’t.
“We’re living in a constantly changing world,” said Halsey, director of women’s ministry and church missions. “There’s always going to be a gap for a leader.” She referenced biblical leaders like Moses, Joshua, and Joseph who had to depend on God’s leadership and calling to succeed. Leaders need to embrace the gap, Halsey said.
“We can’t say we’ll be there when I get the education, get these skills. God will give you what you need if you embrace the gap.”
Click here to watch a recap of the 2019 Illinois Leadership Summit. And coming soon online: More videos from ILS. IBSA.org