Crossover makes a difference in host city and back at home
The words of an old praise chorus aptly describe the effect missions can have in a local church:
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”
Once church members who have engaged in missions start “passing on” their experiences to their friends, it can ignite a missions fire of sorts, causing a church to look in their own neighborhood and beyond for ways they can reach more people with the gospel.
That’s how IBSA zone consultant Steven Glover describes the impact of Crossover, an annual outreach event held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention. This year’s Crossover initiative in St. Louis is planned largely for Saturday, June 11, although some projects start earlier (see planning checklist below).
Last year, Glover and his family participated in Crossover with a team from Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. The volunteers worked with a church in urban Columbus, Ohio, to prayer walk their community and share the gospel with people they met. Glover and the team also helped train the Ohioans in prayer walking and evangelism, equipping them for the ministry they did together.
Once they got back to Chicago, they shared with the rest of the congregation what had happened in Columbus. As with any mission trip, the resulting benefits could have stopped there, Glover said.
“But if you have people who have participated in and are excited about it, they’ll continue to talk about it,” he said. That’s why the key is getting as many people involved as possible.
This year, Uptown will take a team to St. Louis to work with a church in a similar ministry setting as their own inner-city church. In Columbus, said Uptown’s missions coordinator Doug Nguyen, the church worked with “an urban congregation that ministered to Muslims and immigrants, as well as families around the neighborhood in downtown Columbus.
“And we’re looking to do the same in St. Louis.”
After Uptown partnered with a Baltimore church for Crossover in 2014, they were able to pray for the congregation specifically when rioting broke out in the city the next spring. “We’re all praying for them right now, for churches to really step up and be the salt and light in that community,” Nguyen told the Illinois Baptist at the time.
When mission volunteers help other Christians reach their community, they’re bearing each other’s burdens, Glover said. They’re energized by helping fulfill the Great Commission, by doing what God has called his people to do.
They’re also more likely to come back home and find ways to do the same in their own city.
“It’s a good investment,” Glover said, “because it’s an ongoing thing.” Iron sharpens iron, he said, referencing Proverbs 27:17. “Getting next to someone who has gone out and done that has such an impact.”
Making plans to join Uptown and hundreds of other churches at Crossover prior to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention? Start now by working through this checklist of questions:
As you recruit volunteers for your Crossover team, think about who they are. What are their ages, ministry skills, and spiritual gifts?
View the list of Illinois Crossover projects at meba.org/crossover-st-louis- 2016, and look for those that fit your team. For example, if you have Spanish speakers in your group, consider joining Iglesia Bautista Maranatha in Granite City for prayer walking and door-to-door evangelism in their community.
Interested in sports outreach? Help Sterling Baptist Church host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
What time can they give?
Most Crossover projects happen the Saturday before the Convention begins—this year, that’s June 11. But some initiatives cover a longer span of time:
- A church plant in Fairmont City needs help with a home makeover
project June 6-11.
- Two congregations in Hartford and East Alton are working together on a week-long canvassing project, capped off with a community block party.
- A new church in Collinsville will utilize volunteers for community surveying and sharing the gospel on Saturday, and then will host a preview worship service Sunday.
- Check the full project list at meba.org for more multi-day opportunities.
Start thinking now about how to share your ministry experiences with the congregation back at home.
Which stories best illustrate how God worked through your team to increase your partner church’s influence and favor in their community? Did anyone accept Christ? What spiritual needs can your church pray for over the next year?
Also, how might you extend the relationship with your Crossover partner church? Uptown kept in touch with Baltimore pastor Ryan Palmer, who they worked with in 2014. He visited Uptown when he was in Chicago the next year. As you plan your Crossover project, consider how it might spark a ministry partnership that goes beyond one day.