'Crossover Houston': intentional evangelism
HOUSTON (BP) -- When Southern Baptists at every level cooperate to reach people for Christ, it's always effective, said Darrell Robinson, a former pastor and longtime evangelist from Texas.
Continuing the tradition of reaching out to the host city of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, the pre-convention "Crossover Houston" effort is offering opportunities for intentionally sharing the Gospel through block parties and door-to-door evangelism.
"The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is working with the North American Mission Board to provide a more traditional Crossover experience," said Nathan Lorick, the SBTC's evangelism director. "This includes working with seminary students Monday through Friday, June 3-7, on going door-to-door with the Gospel. On Saturday (June 8), churches will be hosting block parties across Houston."
Also, NAMB is working with Union Baptist Association in Houston to help kick off "Loving Houston," a three-year program featuring projects such as home renovation, clean-up, demolition, outreach and prayerwalking.
Crossover has been a staple of SBC evangelism efforts in host cities since its inauguration at the 1989 Las Vegas convention. An evangelistic thrust had been on Robinson's heart when he was pastor at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., and a member of the SBC Executive Committee.
"... [F]or many years I had the conviction that when we do the SBC in a major city, we should also plan to try to do a major evangelistic effort in the city," Robinson said. "I suggested that we work with local churches in the area and messengers should come in early to do evangelistic projects, including door-to-door witnessing representing the local church in the area, block parties, evangelistic harvest meetings led by evangelists, etc."
The Las Vegas event, originally called "Saturation Evangelism Project," had a great impact, Robinson said. "It got the attention of all of Las Vegas. The people were responsive. It was a huge success. My recall is that around 1,800 professed faith in Christ. Churches were impacted. Ultimately, new churches were started."
The success of the Las Vegas outreach led the SBC to decide to sponsor evangelism events every year during the SBC annual meeting in the host city.
"Morris Chapman at the Executive Committee suggested the name Crossover, which we all liked," Robinson recounted, noting that the name alludes to SBC messengers crossing over a city to proclaim the hope found in the cross of Christ.
In the same way, "our desire for Crossover is to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ," Lorick said. "We are excited to see the churches do block parties in their communities while at the same time being intentional about sharing the Gospel."
First Baptist Church in Pearland is one of the churches planning a block party as part of Crossover Houston.
"We have concluded that one large block party could effectively reach several thousand over a three-hour time," pastor Sonny Foraker said.
The block party is set to include bounce houses, rock climbing, water slides for older kids, interactive games, a petting zoo and pony rides, as well as hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones. In addition, the church band will perform from a bandstand.
"The Crossover event will allow many people to participate in a fun day when many residents' normal busy schedules would not otherwise allow them to hear or see that the Gospel can impact their lives," Foraker said.
Lorick said intentional witnessing at all the Crossover Houston events would benefit the sponsoring churches, those hearing the Gospel and those sharing it.
"Our desire is to see people be excited about sharing their faith daily in their communities," Lorick said. "By doing door-to-door evangelism as well as block parties, we are giving people the training, experience and opportunities to develop a burden and passion to see people come to faith in Jesus. We believe that these opportunities will help spur people on to be passionate about sharing their faith daily in their respective contexts."
Bethel Baptist Church is another church planning a Crossover Houston block party and hoping to influence its community for Christ.
"Our church is located in the inner city of Houston with a predominately Hispanic community. Gangs, drugs, poverty and teen pregnancy are big issues," pastor Jamie Garcia said. "This block party will give our church the opportunity to display our 'Love God, Love People' motto."
Crossover Houston, Lorick said, "is going to be a great time in which people from all over the SBC join together to knock on doors and host block parties. The SBTC is excited to be leading out in the strategy of sharing the Gospel with residents of Houston through these avenues of intentional evangelism. We pray that God blesses these efforts and many people will come to faith in Jesus on June 8 through Crossover Houston."
There are multiple opportunities for those attending the SBC to be a part of Crossover Houston. To see a list of churches hosting block parties, visit www.namb.net/crossover or www.sbtexas.com/crossover or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information also is available by calling the SBTC evangelism office toll-free at 1-877-953-7282. For an earlier Baptist Press story about this year's Crossover, click here. NAMB provides partial funding for Crossover events and partners with local associations, state conventions, churches and any SBC entities wanting to be part of sharing Christ in the city hosting each year's SBC annual meeting.
Stephanie Heading is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).