Southern Baptist volunteers from throughout North America will crisscross Indianapolis the first week of June, when Crossover'08 comes to town in advance of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting at the Indiana Convention Center on June 10-11.
Crossover'08, set for June 6-7 in Indianapolis, will mark the twentieth anniversary of this annual evangelistic event, designed to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the host city the weekend before the SBC's annual meeting.
While it's difficult to predict how many Southern Baptists will attend this year's convention in Indianapolis as messengers representing many of SBC's 43,000 churches, last year's session in San Antonio drew about 8,600 participants.
Crossover will be jointly sponsored by the SBC's North American Mission Board (NAMB), the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and the Crossroads Baptist Association in Indianapolis.
Eight new churches — one Hispanic, one Chinese, one African-American, and five Anglo — will be planted as by-products of Crossover'08, according to Jimmy Kinnaird, NAMB's Crossover coordinator in Alpharetta, Georgia.
"Our goal is that when we leave Indianapolis, we will, at the same time, ensure that the Gospel stays there and spreads," Kinnaird said. "We want Southern Baptist churches to be strengthened and new churches started. We want Indianapolis to be a place where Jesus is known even better after Crossover'08 and the Convention."
John Rogers, missions and evangelism team leader for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, said both the state convention and NAMB are playing supportive roles while the local Crossroads Baptist Association in Indianapolis drives this year's Crossover.
"It's their heart, their vision and their strategy," Rogers said. "When it's locally led and locals take ownership, we think the results will be longer lasting. We see Crossover'08 as a process, not an event. We want Crossover to be felt long after people have left Indianapolis."
Rogers said Crossover'08 follow-up will be more extensive than in the past.
"We want to see baptisms as a result of Crossover, which will help our churches grow. So we're putting a lot of resources and personnel into follow-up."
During the week leading up to the SBC's annual meeting, volunteers — representing dozens of SBC churches in Indiana and around the nation — will take the Gospel to Indianapolis' inner-city and metro areas.
Kinnaird said Crossover'08 strategic events will include twenty-seven block parties, focusing on African-American, Korean, Hispanic, and Anglo neighborhoods; door-to-door evangelism spearheaded by eight local churches; projects to rehab ten houses in the Indianapolis area under NAMB's World Changers ministry; repair and renovation of a school playground or local park by NAMB's Baptist Builders ministry; and roving ICE (Intentional Community Evangelism) teams, who will blanket the city's core-city area, witnessing to those they meet on the streets during the week leading up to Crossover weekend.
Five Indianapolis churches will anchor the ICE campaign: Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Living Word Baptist Church, Eastside Community Baptist Church, Gabriel Baptist Church, and Warren Baptist Church.
Leading the Crossover/ICE effort for the seventh consecutive year is Victor Benavides, urban center evangelism coordinator for NAMB. He said a minimum of forty ICE volunteers from across the country will come to Indianapolis to share the Gospel on the city's streets.
"We look for high foot-traffic areas to witness in," Benavides said, "like busy intersections and bus stops, shopping centers, apartment complexes, and even outside liquor stores."
Echoing Rogers and Kinnaird, Benavides said he wants to see Crossover'08's evangelism efforts bear lasting results.
"We want to impact the areas of prayer, outreach, visitation, building relationships, the assimilation of people into local churches, and starting new churches long after the ICE teams are gone," he said. "We want to help make churches healthy in all these facets."
Benavides said another goal is to promote Crossover to other churches throughout the SBC as an opportunity for mission trips to future SBC annual meeting cities — Louisville, Kentucky (2009), Orlando (2010) Phoenix (2011), and New Orleans (2012).
Since Crossover originated during the SBC annual meeting in Las Vegas in 1989, almost forty thousand persons have prayed to receive Christ as result of the annual evangelistic effort. Thousands have participated as Crossover volunteers, and dozens of new Southern Baptist churches have been planted under the twenty-year program.
Indianapolis is the thirteenth largest city in the U.S. with a population of about 780,000, with 2 million in the metro area. Indiana has 417 Southern Baptist churches with more than 96,000 members.
For additional information about Crossover'08 in Indianapolis, to register as a volunteer or to participate in ICE, go to www.crossover08.com.
Mickey Noah is a member of First Redeemer Church in Cummings, Georgia, and a staff writer with the SBC North American Mission Board.