One class I needed to take in college as part of my Communication Arts major was simply called Salesmanship. I learned a lot, mostly because the class was taught by an experienced sales executive who had retired from a large Chicago agency.
During one class, after what I thought had been one of my more persuasive presentations, that veteran professor just started shaking his head at me. “Not good?” I asked, looking for sympathy.
“Not bad. And yet worthless,” he replied. “You presented the product and its benefits just fine. But you never asked me for action.”
Asking is something that Jesus urged us to do, boldly. His half-brother James wrote under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration that we should ask for wisdom, ask in faith, and that we often don’t have simply because we don’t ask, or ask for the wrong reasons. Paul reminded the Ephesians, and us, that God can do immeasurably more than we ask.
Still, sometimes we’re hesitant to ask outright. Maybe it’s because we’re proud, or think it makes us look weak or needy. Maybe we don’t want to risk annoyance or presumption. Maybe we simply want to prove we can get what we need on our own.
And so with those reminders, and on behalf of all that is state missions in Illinois, it’s time for me to ask: Would you give a generous gift to the Mission Illinois Offering this year?
You can give through your church when it receives that special offering, usually in September. Or if your church doesn’t have a focus on state missions, you can give online at IBSA.org.
Usually I accompany that ask with stories of the churches that are being planted in Illinois, or the college campuses that are receiving ministry, or the evangelistic training, camps, and events that are taking place, or the missionaries and staff that are serving throughout the state.
All those things are true this year too. In fact, those missionaries and staff have been busier than ever this year, adapting to the special needs of churches during the pandemic and creating dozens of new webinars, online town halls, and virtual resources. By mid-year, our IBSA staff had directly engaged as many churches as we did all the previous year. And now as churches resume meeting, we are pivoting again to requests for church revitalization, pastor search assistance, and a host of new training and consultation needs.
But this year those things are happening under some special financial pressures. Some churches are struggling or facing uncertainties due to the pandemic, and this has affected Cooperative Program giving. Maintaining our two IBSA camps this summer while being unable to host guests has been expensive. And outside funding that was previously provided by LifeWay has been discontinued as that national partner adjusts to economic conditions.
Together, these and other factors add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year more than perhaps any other, it will be up to Illinois Baptists to fund their own state missions efforts.
So, on behalf of our missionaries and staff, and on behalf of the Illinois mission field that we share as Illinois Baptists, I’m asking. First, I’m asking the Lord, because he has always faithfully provided for our needs, and I know he will do so again. And then I’m asking churches to give their people an opportunity to give to state missions by receiving the Mission Illinois Offering this fall. And yes, I’m asking for the generosity of every Illinois Baptist who believes that this Land of Lincoln is a mission field, and that our network of churches has a responsibility to deliver the gospel here. Thanks for letting me ask.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.