Well, my family and I finally got back from the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Convention in Springfield.
It would have been better, but Moriah has been throwing up this week and now both she and Vicky are sick, both throwing up on the ride home. On Vicky’s birthday to boot.
Here’s a couple observations. I may have been one of the youngest people attending other than my children—and I only saw 4-5 children. It was not a very family friendly event and children were not an expected part to bring along. Middle of the week, nothing family friendly. When one speaker commented on the grayness of the messengers, my thought was, “Gee, I wonder why?”
Overall, this was the most uneventful convention I’ve ever been to. It was mostly a “Go Get Em” pep rally. One significant complaint, however, had to do with our mission agencies, the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. While I enjoyed hearing the stories and other efforts of the IMB and NAMB, considering the embattled years these institutions have had—resignation due to mismanagement, trustee battles over narrowing of missionary qualifications over “3rd tier” doctrinal issues like Private Prayer Language—I expect to be informed about the status of each and what if any corrective measures are in place. Rather than a pep talk—we’re doing great—keep sending your money—softball that keeps churches uninformed, I’d rather have transparency and an honest assessment of the health of the ministry.
IBSA has made the health of churches a priority under the guidance of the new Executive Director, Nate Adams. I like him by the way, he seems honest, passionate and straightforward without all the polished political smoozing. If the health of churches is a priority—so should the health of our missions agencies—and yet nothing was said on those important issues. Not a word. I was saddened. What is the health status of NAMB, the IMB? I don’t know—I certainly didn’t learn anything from their representative—who made a fine presentation. The numbers present a great picture—but I know there are leaks in that dam—that if not dealt with will breach and cause a flood.
In the future for the IBSA—if you want to have younger involvement, you’ve got to engage families and kids. Maybe move the event to Friday and ½ Saturday—maybe allow churches to train workers with the new VBS materials. I don’t know yet. I’m planning on writing the new Ex. Dir. so they’ll consider it next year. Also, please respect me and your pastors and messengers enough to not gloss over significant issues at play—please keep us informed rather than hope nobody asks a “sensitive question”.
Overall, I would have enjoyed the Convention more if my family was a little healthier, if some would have moved to the plethora (sure Jefe!) of seats in the middle of the rows so a family with kids and a stroller could sit on the end and make a quick exit when needed, rather than clog up the ends, or if my family was truly welcome and engaged somehow.
To top it all off, as one of the newest alumni of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in IL, I quickly got pegged to help with next year’s alumni luncheon. Oh joy. Still, I’m glad I went.
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