Southern Baptists coming to Phoenix for Crossover 2011 will join a massive network of Southern Baptists cooperating for the Gospel. Together, they will aid an oasis of local churches Saturday, June 11, in ministering to the spiritual thirst in their communities.
Crossover, now in its twenty-third year, is an evangelistic outreach event held the weekend before the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
Dozens of congregations will join volunteers —from Arizona and across the nation—at seventy ministry venues throughout the Phoenix-Tucson Corridor, a 120-mile stretch encompassing 5.2 million residents. The North American Mission Board is working with the local Crossover coordinating team to provide volunteers with opportunities to share the love of Christ as they participate in block parties, prayerwalking excursions, Intentional Community Evangelism outreach projects, and acts of kindness.
�We�re excited about getting our churches into the streets and sharing the Gospel with our community,� said Jerry Martin, associational missionary for the Valley Rim Baptist Association.
�We want to be a presence in our communities and begin to make a difference in unreached places.�
Martin, who is the Crossover coordinator for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, asks Southern Baptists to pray for their brothers and sisters in Arizona as they prepare for the June event.
What makes this year’s Crossover events unique to the decades-long tradition is that they will directly impact and strengthen ten new churches that are just starting in the five Baptist associations of the Phoenix-Tucson Corridor. These include the Central, Estralla, Valley Rim, Gila, and Catalina Baptist associations.
�We are so delighted that our [SBC] family is coming out,� said Steve Bass, executive director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. �Our people had a great experience in 2003 and they�re absolutely looking forward to this. I think all up and down the line we are grateful for Southern Baptists who come and help engage the harvest field.�
Bass said Crossover will help existing churches identify and engage their neighborhoods. The event also will help spread the word about the new church plants, many of which are only beginning to form relationships and core groups in their communities.
�Many of our churches need to be introduced or reintroduced to their neighborhoods. Crossover makes that happen,� Bass said. �Pastors and churches need encouragement and to have the Southern Baptist family come and walk with them in their neighborhoods or work with them at a block party is incredibly encouraging. It�s absolutely a blessing to us.�
Bass also highlighted the vibrant work among the international communities, including ministry among Hispanics and Chinese.
�Our Hispanic ministries are leading the way in gathering volunteers and casting vision for reaching Spanish speakers,� Bass said.
Among the multi-ethnic Crossover events will be outreach efforts and block parties hosted by sixteen of the state’s twenty-three Hispanic churches. The group will gather Sunday, June 5 for a Hispanic rally of local churches, spend the week doing outreach to Spanish speakers, finish with block parties throughout the city, and end the week before the SBC with a celebration of the week’s successes.
Bass noted some challenges as well.
�One challenge is having an outdoor event in June in Phoenix,� he said, alluding to the sweltering heat. �Another challenge is that while we are the largest evangelical group in Arizona, we�re not the only religious group here spreading their message. We have to distinguish ourselves from the LDS (Latter Day Saints) and the Jehovah�s Witnesses who also go door to door and have a huge influence out here.
�You never make a clear presentation of the Gospel in a vacuum,� he added. �You�re always presenting over and against competing views.�
�I hope thousands of Southern Baptists arrive early for the convention this year to participate in Crossover,� said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. �What�s so exciting is that after we leave, the new churches we�re helping will be reaching people for Christ and making disciples for years to come. I�m thankful that Steve Bass at the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and the local associations near Phoenix are making church planting such a priority for Crossover this year.�
To learn more about Crossover 2011, visit www.crossover2011.org.
To join an online prayer community for Crossover Arizona, go to facebook.com/SBCpray4AZ or follow it on twitter.com/sbcpray4az.