Metro St. Louis leaders ready for Crossover partners
St. Louis | As Southern Baptists across the country turn their eyes to St. Louis, Ronny Carroll is more than ready to receive a few thousand extra laborers in order to achieve a great harvest.
“With the manpower coming, our churches can really pull off something God-sized,” said Carroll, executive director of missions for the Metro East Baptist Association, which serves the Illinois side of the St. Louis area. “The preparation alone has already given our churches a boost of energy and excitement in anticipation of what God’s going to do.”
Crossover St. Louis will take place on June 11, just before the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, which will be held June 14-15 at the city’s America’s Center. Crossover will include more than 70 service and outreach projects throughout five counties in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Prior to the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, thousands of seeds were planted resulting in at least 345 people who made professions of faith. Carroll is hoping to double that this year.
“We are praying for 1,000 souls to come to Jesus and for 27 new churches to be established,” he said. “I believe God is going to do his job, we just need to be ready for his movement.”
Carroll said that during the last few months and even years, God has been paving the way for an epic revival of hope and healing to break out in St. Louis. And he said God has used Southern Baptists every step of the way.
“Look at all that has happened, in particular the flooding that occurred around Christmas, where Southern Baptists have been the hands and feet of Jesus,” Carroll said, referring to SBC Disaster Relief efforts in St. Louis just a few months ago. “At one level, Crossover will tie into the work that has already been done and add one more dimension to the truth that Southern Baptists, as individuals and as churches, really care about the people and the communities and quality of life they have. They are primed and ready to receive the eternal hope and salvation that Christ offers.”
And to do that, Carroll said the plan for Crossover St. Louis is to “keep it small, but make it huge.”
Crossover will impact churches in six different associations in both Missouri and Illinois. But, because of the unique needs within each association and community, the projects are indigenous to what will make the biggest impact in a given neighborhood.
“Each church has its own local vision and the 21 projects on our side of the river reflect the unique flavor of our communities,” Carroll said. “We are working with city officials and mayors for some of our cleanup projects and planning block parties, or fiestas, in some of our growing Hispanic neighborhoods.”
Tom Firasek, ministry and partnership coordinator for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said organization-wise they are already miles ahead of where past Crossover events were at this stage of the preparation process.
“We met with Rich Halcombe (director of missions in Columbus) and other Columbus Southern Baptist leadership and spent the day learning what works, what doesn’t and what logistical needs might come up,” Firasek said.
“When you are about to support and rally behind 75 or so highly visible events at the same time, you want to be sure to orchestrate everything with excellence, while at the same time pointing to Jesus and proclaiming the gospel every step of the way.”
In addition, Firasek said between 100-150 seminary students will be joining the effort in St. Louis during the week leading up to Crossover.
“We would love to see God open up the needs and challenges of St. Louis so that some of these folks would consider planting their lives here or making ongoing partnerships here,” Firasek said. “In the metro area we have one church for every 7,500 people. We need more church starts.”
With Crossover St. Louis just a couple months away, Carroll said their biggest need is for more volunteers to commit to join them.
“If God’s leading you to be a part of Crossover, please commit to join us soon so we can get you partnered with a project,” he said. “Also, we would love for you to join us in prayer. We are praying God will flood us with his mercy and grace and that He will prepare the lost people to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
Carroll said they are also praying for churches to be ready to plug new Christians into their ministries and for church plants to grow quickly from the influx of new believers across St. Louis.
“God has already opened so many doors for the gospel to be presented in a mighty way here,” he said. “Pray that we will be faithful with the doors he’s opened.”
Kayla Rinker is a freelance journalist in Missouri.