With nearly 9 million people who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, Illinois is a mission field. But this is not an unreached mission field. God has had missionaries in the fertile ground of the state for over 200 years. They planted churches here, first along the mighty rivers that served as pioneer highways. Other churches sprang up as settlers spread across the hills and prairies.
Though centuries have passed, the mission remains the same. Jesus said that he would build his church. He sent the twelve to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching new believers. The local church is God’s plan A to reach their world, and there is no plan B.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
“Anytime a church quits looking outside and they just look inside, they’ve begun the spiral toward dying,” said IBSA Evangelism Director Scott Harris. “Because anytime we lose the mission of the church that the Lord gave us, we cease to be what he created us to be.”
The recent past has been hard on many Illinois churches. A rapidly changing culture combined with a once-in-a-century global crisis, left many weakened. But the mission requires healthy churches.
Scott Foshie believes this. “Every church is a strategic church. It doesn’t matter if there’s 50 people, five people, 500 people,” said Foshie, leader of IBSA’s Health Team. Through resources provided by the Mission Illinois Offering and Cooperative Program giving, Foshie invests his days helping churches discover new seasons of reaching the lost and making disciples.
IBSA is currently working with over 80 churches and 15 local associations in ongoing revitalization processes, guiding them to discover new ways to reach their communities. Almost 30 churches have been helped this year as they navigate transition periods to call their next pastor.
And IBSA is working hard to create new ways to help call out and prepare the next generations of church leaders to reach changing neighborhoods. Because the health of each church across this state is important to God. This is where the spiritual battle for lost men and women, boys and girls, is waged.
“There’s no doubt that in Illinois today, there’s an intense war going on for souls,” Foshie said. “We have to recognize the spiritual strongholds and then let the Lord help us change. And really, it’s a process of discipleship. It’s growing to be more like Jesus, and we’re able to reach people in new ways.”
By investing in revitalization, along with planting new healthy congregations to reach growing and changing neighborhoods, hundreds of IBSA churches can have new life-changing impact on the communities all Illinoisans call home.
Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering for state missions, including how to order additional offering materials for your church, at www.MissionIllinois.org.