Springfield | The Illinois Baptist State Association Board of Directors held its fall meeting September 12 in preparation for the network’s upcoming Annual Meeting. Executive Director Nate Adams introduced a new initiative, “For the Pastor,” designed to support and encourage pastors serving throughout the IBSA’s approximately 900 member churches. The board also passed a proposed 2024 budget, salary structure, and Cooperative Program ratio, which will be forwarded to messengers for their approval. Plus, the board heard a mid-year report from Adams that included a continued rebound in baptisms across the state.
The one-year “For the Pastor” initiative was born out of discussions between IBSA Board and staff members about their desire to increase connection with and care for pastors serving the network’s churches in intentional and practical ways, and to increase “pastoral brotherhood” throughout the state.
Adams said this network priority for the coming year will be expressed in multiple ways beginning this fall, with four key emphases:
- Empathy: Being For the Pastor by Knowing and Understanding
- Relationship: Being For the Pastor by Connecting and Caring
- Reach: Being For the Pastor by Expanding Network Capacity
- Brotherhood: Being For the Pastor by Delivering Value with Comradery
The initiative’s overall goal is to “deliver practical care, encouragement, and forward momentum, to at least 400 pastors.”
Adams said the Annual Meeting will be a “good launching pad” for the initiative, with its already announced theme of “Pursuing Health and Hope.” Several pastoral care events and resources are already planned for introduction this fall. Then in November, he will work with the board’s Strategic Planning Committee to prioritize and price several new initiatives for the coming year. The committee will formalize their recommendations by the end of February 2024 to present them at March IBSA Board meeting.
The board voted by acclamation to present the proposed 2024 budget, salary structure, and Cooperative Program ratio at the IBSA Annual Meeting. The budget is based on a CP goal of $6,100,000 and a CP ratio of 56.5% for Illinois missions and 43.5% to be forwarded to the national SBC, excluding shared expenses not to exceed 10% of the CP goal. The CP ratio remains unchanged. The total proposed 2024 IBSA budget is $8,480,150, which is $16,200 less than in 2023.
Board members elected Bruce Kirk Chair, pastor of Alpha Baptist Church in Bolingbrook, to serve as chair. Kirk, who previously served as vice chair, will replace Jeff Logsdon, who will rotate off the board following the Annual Meeting. Josh Bledsoe, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Monticello, was elected vice chair. Paul Cooper, pastor of Marshall Baptist Church in Marshall, was elected to his second term as secretary.
Adams offered a mid-year update on strategies and measures, including leadership development which continues despite staff vacancies in that area. To date, 681 pastors and leaders have been trained, with 1,992 leaders attending ministry skill training events. He also said 84 churches and 15 local associations are actively participating in a revitalization strategy.
Adams noted there are “encouraging signs that baptism recovery” is underway in the state. In 2022, both the total and student numbers of baptisms were up 41%. He pointed to anecdotal evidence that indicates continued increases in 2023. “We’re starting to hear stories of churches that are baptizing more, breaking loose and moving forward,” said Adams. “We think encouraging and facilitating that is the most valuable thing that the network can do.”
Staff have also been hosting several “Multiply” Hubs around the state. “So far six regional hubs have drawn 221 pastors and planters from 86 churches,” Adams said. Eight churches have been planted this year with an additional two possible by the end of the year. Overall, there are as many as 50 church plants in progress. In addition, 1,210 students have been trained in “The Four” gospel presentations.
Over the summer, 93 salvations were reported at IBSA Baptist Camps, Lake Sallateeska and Streator, with about 1,100 students in attendance.
Board members were encouraged to attend the IBSA Annual Meeting November 8-9 at Cornerstone Church in Marion. The meeting will be preceded by the IBSA Pastors Conference November 7-8. Annual Meeting speakers include Guidestone Financial Services President Hance Dilbeck, IBSA President Michael Nave, and Annual Meeting preacher Josh Crisp, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bethalto. For more information, visit IBSAannualmeeting.org.