Springfield | The IBSA Board approved a budget plan for 2021 that shows hope for a strong recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also allows for some adjustments if needed. The budget based on projected $6.2 million in Cooperative Program receipts will be presented for approval by elected messengers at the 2020 IBSA Annual Meeting November 4 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur. The Board agreed to keep the current ratio on shared CP giving at 56.5% for work in Illinois through IBSA and 43.5% forwarded to the national SBC. If there is a shortfall in revenues, the Board approved spending up to $400,000 from IBSA’s reserves to support the 2021 budget.
“I want to thank the Lord for the reserves that IBSA had has in place for this time of ‘famine’ that we hope will see us through until we get back to normal,” Executive Director Nate Adams told the Board in the September 15 virtual meeting. Several state conventions have cut ministry or sold properties due the financial strain caused by decreased giving, but IBSA has been able to continue ministry and further its commitment to camps facilities in anticipation of 2021.
As of September 1, CP giving is down approximately $587,000 from the goal, but only $220,000 compared to giving at this time last year. IBSA spending is also down a comparable amount due to restraints produced by pandemic-limited ministry, so income and expenditures are balancing out. “We are in a healthy position going into the fall,” Adams said.
IBSA was able to assist 11 churches that applied for emergency funds related to the pandemic, for a total disbursement of $24,500.
The IBSA teams are resuming travel as needed for ministry and speaking engagements, Adams reported. After working from home from March 16 to July 6, the staff is back in the office and has been able to resume some on-location work with churches and church planters. Adams explained the “pivot” of IBSA’s work required by the quarantine. “Our priorities have been tested by the pandemic,” Adams said. “We’ve learned that churches and pastors felt isolated and wanted to be connected.” IBSA’s response was to take many equipping sessions online, and to develop new training and content in response to COVID-19.
As a result, IBSA developed an extensive collection of webinars and town hall meetings, more than 40 in a five-month period. And IBSA’s contact with churches and pastors through online venues grew beyond the original goals for 2020, much of which was to be conducted in person. For example, IBSA staff have engaged individually with 87% of pastors. So far, 496 pastors have engaged in a leadership development event, only four short of the total 2020 goal.
Adams outlined “four lanes” of strategic planning exercised by IBSA in the past year. Beginning in August 2019, IBSA restructured the staff to assist churches in developing ministry processes rather than programs. These include leadership development, church revitalization, and missions mobilization. Next was development of the ReFocus plan led by Rob Peters, both for IBSA and for use in local associations and churches. Peters is an expert in local church revitalization.
Simultaneous to that was the start of a three-year vision process led by Will Mancini and his leadership organization, Denominee. Mancini previously founded Auxano, a church growth consulting firm. He just announced a new partnership with the North American Mission Board to coach pastors. With IBSA, the Denominee group is assisting development of long-term vision and strategies for state convention work.
The fourth lane emerged in response to the pandemic, producing opportunity for accelerated change on the state and local levels. Adams noted that “many churches are more open to rapid change now than before the pandemic” after experiencing that same kind of critical shift in ministries as the state association.
The Board elected new officers to serve next year. Andy Dewitt of FBC Salem will chair the board after service as vice-chair; Tim Rhodus of Cross Church with three central Illinois locations will serve as vice-chair; and Mike Jameson of Pontoon Baptist Church in Granite City will continue as secretary.
Adams expressed thanks to outgoing Chair Bob Dickerson of FBC Marion. He also noted two staff anniversaries: Debbie Muller has served as administrative assistant for 20 years, and Eddie Pullen has served in church planting 10 years.
The Board previously approved condensing and moving IBSA’s 2020 Annual Meeting to a single day, November 4, at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur. The event will begin at 1:00 p.m., with appropriate social distancing in the large auditorium. No exhibit hall or ancillary meetings will be held due to COVID-19 restrictions. Letters encouraging registration of messengers were mailed to IBSA churches in August.
Eric Reed is editor of Illinois Baptist media.