Participants in the annual evangelistic effort surrounding the Southern Baptist Convention this June will have opportunities to touch more than just the immediate Phoenix area with the gospel of Christ. This year the whole state is getting involved.
Crossover Arizona will bring block parties, door-to-door visits, and additional innovative evangelistic efforts to the metropolitan Phoenix area June 14 — the Saturday before the June 17-18 convention. The following weekend churches in other parts of the state will sponsor similar events.
Jerry Martin, state coordinator for Crossover Arizona and director of missions for Valley Rim Baptist Association in Mesa, said pairs of Arizona churches will partner with each other on successive weekends. Most of the national volunteers are expected for June 14, although the second weekend does give volunteers more options for both date and location.
"Here in Arizona we see it as a way to get us unified across the state on sharing the gospel," Martin said. "We know that will overflow into making a difference in the West."
Phoenix-area Southern Baptists are familiar with working together on evangelism efforts, having just completed a Strategic Focus Cities effort that has resulted in more than 11,200 professions of faith and thirty-eight new churches since 2000.
Mitch McDonald, evangelism director for the Arizona Baptist Convention, said Crossover Arizona developed out of the effectiveness of that effort. "We knew that the convention was coming in 2003, and we began praying and thinking about that. It kind of grew out of that discussion that this would be a follow-up event for Strategic Focus Cities."
Crossover Arizona events will be similar to those of past Crossover efforts, Martin said. "We'll be using block parties, random acts of kindness, prayer walking, and door-to-door surveys. Some of the surveys will be saturation evangelism, and some of them will be other kinds of community surveys that the local pastor wants."
One of the "random acts of kindness" events — also known as Compassion in Action — will involve volunteers working with Mountain View Baptist Church passing out free bottles of water and taking opportunities to share their faith on nearby hiking trails.
A "skatepark takeover" planned by three Phoenix-area churches will involve a variety of ministries to skating and skateboard enthusiasts, according to volunteer coordinator Deb Wolfrey. Ministry opportunities include demonstrations, free videotaping of skaters, free adjustments, a live band and free food in a block party setting.
Several other churches have noted that June 14 falls on Flag Day, and will be taking the opportunity of passing out small flags in public places-and engaging people in conversations about their faith.
"I thought that was a great idea for being able to talk to people about their beliefs," Wolfrey said.
An Inner-City Evangelism workshop will also be held June 10-13, and participants and leaders will participate in other Crossover events, Martin said.
Individuals or groups interested in participating in Crossover Arizona should contact volunteer coordinator Deb Wolfrey toll-free at (866) 289-0469, or via email at [email protected]. While registration by May 1 is encouraged, Martin said some individuals could be assigned to projects as late as the June 13 training session for Crossover events.
Getting a Head Start
Crossover Arizona may be officially scheduled for mid-June as the Southern Baptist Convention roles into Phoenix, but a multi-church partnership organized through the effort already has resulted in eighteen professions of faith in Christ in the western Arizona town of Topock.
With the help of Corona Baptist Church in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler and additional volunteers from Las Vegas and Oklahoma, 145 volunteers working with Golden Shores Community Baptist Church on March 1 visited each of the approximately 900 homes in the community.
The door-to-door spiritual opinion survey was followed by an evangelistic rally that night, and attendance the following Sunday jumped from an average of about 105 to 170, according to pastor Bruce Daniel.
"I just wanted to knock on a few doors, but God had other plans," he said.
The church picked up about 227 prospects through the effort, Daniels said, that will receive follow-up through a new FAITH evangelism training effort.
"We believe that God is going to do a great work here," he said.
The project is a result of a Crossover Arizona model that calls for partnerships between churches in the Phoenix area and a church in another part of the state, in addition to volunteers from other parts of the country. In most cases the two congregations will work together on June 14 in metropolitan Phoenix, and the following weekend on a similar project on the other church's home turf.
Crossover became an annual fixture of Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings in 1989, resulting in more than 23,000 professions of faith since that time. Here are the numbers of professions of faith recorded over the past five years:
1997 Crossover Dallas: 4,207
1998 Crossover Salt Lake City: 1,715
1999 Crossover Atlanta: 2,849
2000 Crossover Orlando: 1,213
2001 Crossover New Orleans: 1,348
2002 Crossover St. Louis: 2,812