NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Youthful exuberance will be a part of the Crossover Nashville evangelistic outreach preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
John Lemmings of Kansas Baptist Church in Waco, Ga., who plans to bring about 40 youth to Crossover on June 18, said he hopes they’ll realize that “Christianity is not just about the four walls of their local church.”
“I want them to see what being on mission for Christ is all about. I’m hoping their mindset for missions will be enlarged and they’ll get active serving the Lord Jesus.”
Lemmings said his church understands Kingdom growth is not just about their congregation but includes a network of churches joining together for such events as Crossover and in outreach across the globe. The youth recently started a puppet ministry, and they plan to use the puppets as tools for spreading the Gospel during Crossover, first at a Nashville park and then at a church on Sunday morning.
“I wanted to give our people an opportunity to do stateside mission work,” Lemmings told Baptist Press. “We believe in evangelism here and wanted to help do our part to reach Nashville.”
The opportunity to expose his youth to the SBC annual meeting is another reason Lemmings chose to get involved, he said.
“I’m proud to be a Southern Baptist. That won’t get me to heaven, but I think Southern Baptists are right on the money and doing a great job,” he said, adding that it’s important for youth to understand the convention.
Philip Robertson, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville, La., and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, plans to bring about 50 youth to Crossover in conjunction with a trip to a Rick Gage “Go Tell” camp in Georgia the preceding week. Most of the youth have been trained in the FAITH/Sunday School-based evangelism strategy, so they’ll be ready for Crossover.
What inspired Robertson to plan a trip to Nashville for his youth?
“Two words: Bobby Welch,” he said of the SBC president who has called for 10,000-plus volunteers at this year’s Crossover.
After speaking with Welch and hearing his vision for Crossover, Robertson felt God stir his heart to participate. He said his teenagers are very excited and are looking forward to the experience.
“I think exposing them to the opportunities of personal evangelism and even door-to-door evangelism is a great way to prepare them to be a witness,” he said. “Even as they become leaders in our church, I feel like anything we can do to expose them to that type of ministry is going to help prepare them to be the ambassadors that God has called all of us to be.”
And, in gathering thousands of people for an evangelistic thrust, Robertson said God “is going to show up and our teenagers will have a chance not only to see something great from God but also be a part of it. I have great expectations that we’ll really see a powerful move of God and not just see it but also have the opportunity to be a part of it.”
Pearl Jackson, a youth director at Morse Street Baptist Church in Denton, Texas, told BP the idea of 12,000 people gathered in Nashville with one purpose — to reach the city for Christ — caused her to arrange a trip to Crossover for her youth.
“I wanted them to be a part of a cooperative effort. I hope that they enjoy themselves and see the hard work that other people are doing with them and that they integrate well socially,” she said. “All my kids are African American, and a lot of times they stick to their own rather than integrating with white people. I want them to be a part of a big movement where they can integrate and see how it is to serve others from different backgrounds.”
Jackson started a “Teenagers On Mission” emphasis at her church in January 2004, and she said last summer they traveled to San Antonio to do community service as an evangelistic project. They spent the day with children at a homeless shelter and took the kids to lunch at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant; assembled sandwiches at a food bank for children’s camps; helped rearrange furniture at a warehouse that stores donations; and helped clean up a church in preparation for Vacation Bible School.
They were looking for a city to visit this summer when an invitation to Crossover came in the mail, and Jackson expects her youth to benefit from what they’ll learn as they partner with others in accomplishing Kingdom goals.
Matt Loving, a student minister at Adaton Baptist Church in Starkville, Miss., told BP his youth have done some mission activities in the past but have never helped another church directly. So about 15 of them will be working with Hillcrest Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., in door-to-door evangelism and conducting surveys about church interest.
“The involvement in evangelism was the main thing,” he said. “I think Crossover will push our youth out of their comfort zones. I think working with another church in ministry will be positive too so that they get more of an understanding that all Christian churches are in this together. It’s not just about our church. That’s one thing I’ve been trying to instill in them, and I think this will reinforce that idea.”
Coordinators of the Crossover campaign have reported that more than 12,000 volunteers have pledged to participate either in event ministries or in what is believed will be the largest one-day, door-to-door ministry event on record June 18, with the volunteers starting the day at 8 a.m. at Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center.
The one-day, door-to-door ministry event on June 18 will be part of the launch of “The ‘Everyone Can’ Kingdom Challenge” Welch is leading to witness, win and baptize 1 million people in one year.
A Crossover celebration service is slated after the day’s outreach at the Gaylord Entertainment Center featuring recording artists Clay Crosse, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites. Welch, LifeWay Christian Resources President James T. Draper Jr. and author Bill Fay (“Share Jesus Without Fear”) are among the scheduled speakers. The “Everyone Can Mass Choir” — several thousand strong — also will sing.
Since Crossover began in Las Vegas in 1989, more than 34,000 persons have prayed to receive Christ through this evangelistic effort. In addition, many new churches have been started. The largest previous participation in the annual Crossover campaign was about 2,000 volunteers.
For further information about Crossover Nashville, go to www.everyonecan.net.