“We have arrived at a critical period in our history.”
Abraham Lincoln’s historic words could have been spoken today. At the IBSA Annual Meeting in Maryville, they were. Delivered by renowned Lincoln interpreter Fritz Klein, the wisdom of Illinois’ most famous pioneer echoed with new resonance for the challenges of a state where more than 8 million people do not know Christ.
“Pioneering Spirit” was the theme of the Annual Meeting at First Baptist Church, Maryville, which celebrated four challenges set before churches last year. Throughout the meeting, pastors and leaders told how their churches have gone new places, engaged new people, made new sacrifices, and developed new leaders—all so the gospel goes forth.
During Wednesday evening’s session, Klein used Lincoln’s words to draw paralells between the turmoil the 16th president faced in the 1800s, and the growing dissonance between the church and the culture today.
“We are now surrounded by critical circumstances, well fitted to test our national faith. Indeed, to test our own individual virtue,” Klein said as Lincoln. But a pioneering spirit meets those critical circumstances with determination, creativity, and faithfulness to the task.
Sugar Camp Baptist Church pastor Jesse Webster joined IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams on stage to share the vision his church has for their community and ministry. The dream is big for the small church—to purchase a large facility in a different part of town and relocate their historic congregation to the new neighborhood. It requires a pioneer’s spirit, one that Webster and his church are embracing as they seek greater effectiveness in sharing the gospel in their community.
When a church pursues that kind of spirit, they often have to make adjustments, said Tom Hufty (left), pastor of FBC Maryville. Preaching the Annual Sermon, Hufty used an acrostic to highlight the steps needed to make those adjustments: attitude, decisions, understand, submit, and trust. And in the middle of it all: Jesus.
Weaving family stories into his message, Hufty described how his standard of housekeeping has changed after years of marriage to his wife, Rhonda. His value for her holds him to a higher standard.
“We have someone to value,” Hufty said, closing his message. “His name is Jesus. He’s in the middle of all our adjustments.”