This map is becoming familiar around the Illinois Baptist State Association. We call it ‘the blue map.’ With just a few brush strokes, it clearly illustrates the need for evangelism in Illinois.
The map shows the percentage of people in each county who self-identify as Southern Baptist.
Our strength as a denomination is in the southern half of the state, where in most counties at least 5% of the population is SBC. In some places, the percentage is higher than that, but with so little of this map shaded dark blue, it’s easy to understand why Southern Baptists—and evangelicals overall—are in the minority in Illinois.
The farther north we travel, the less ‘Baptist’ the state is, even as the population explodes. The gray circles show our most populous places. And in stark contrast, the white and lightest blue-shaded counties show places where there are few or no SBC churches.
The need is great all across Illinois, but especially in the cities and Northwest Illinois.
“In many parts of Illinois, Baptists are outnumbered by Muslims, Mormons, eastern religions, and people with no faith at all,” Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association said. “In fact, at least 8-million of our 13-million neighbors in Illinois do not know Jesus Christ.”
That’s why at IBSA, we often say, “Evangelism is the point of the plow.”
As a ministry-support and missions-sending organization, IBSA’s missionaries and staff are engaged in many activities that assist local Baptist churches in Illinois.
The partnership we share with almost 1,000 churches, mission congregations, and church plants is vital to strengthening Baptist work in Illinois. But whatever the ministry activity, the reason behind it is equipping IBSA churches, leaders, and members to share the gospel with people who do not yet know Jesus as their personal savior.
The missionaries whose photos appear in this prayer guide each have different specialties. Church planting, age-graded discipleship, and missions mobilization are just a few. But their work has the same chief purpose: advancing the gospel.
For example, when Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief teams are cutting trees felled by storms and digging out mud-packed houses after floods, somewhere nearby a trained DR chaplain is sharing Jesus with a suffering homeowner. And many times, they find Christ in their crisis.
Who trained the chaplains? Who organized the volunteers?
By giving through the Mission Illinois Offering, you enable state missionaries to do their work in Illinois. You provide supplies for VBS training and children’s camps. You send expertise to churches in need of stronger leadership. You recruit and equip church planters to start congregations where they are desperately need. And the list goes on and on.
Your gifts through the Mission Illinois Offering stay here in Illinois: teaching students, equipping leaders, planting churches, and, at all times, advancing the gospel.
Won’t you give through the Mission Illinois Offering? Your partnership in advancing the gospel in Illinois is needed now, more than ever.