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Crossover ’11 to strengthen church plants
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
May 02, 2011
7 MIN READ TIME

Crossover ’11 to strengthen church plants

Crossover ’11 to strengthen church plants
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
May 02, 2011

PHOENIX —

Southern Baptists coming to Phoenix

for Crossover 2011 will aid an oasis of local churches Saturday, June 11, in

ministering to the spiritual thirst in their communities.

Crossover will mark its 23rd year as the key evangelistic outreach event prior

to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, slated June 14-15 in Phoenix.

Dozens of congregations will join volunteers — from Arizona

and across the nation — at 70 ministry venues throughout the Phoenix-Tucson

corridor, a 120-mile stretch encompassing 5.2 million residents. The North

American Mission Board (NAMB) 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 and Crossover coordinator for the Arizona

Southern Baptist Convention.

“We want to be a presence in our communities and begin to make a difference in

unreached places,” Martin said in asking Southern Baptists to pray for Arizona

Baptists as they prepare for the June outreach.

Photo by James Dotson

Cheri Mills, a member of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., prays with Autiyana Evans as part of an Orlando Intentional Community Evangelism outreach. The girl made a profession of faith in Christ at Crossover 2010.

What makes this year’s Crossover events unique to the decades-long tradition is

that it will directly impact and strengthen 10 new churches that are just starting

in the five Baptist associations of the Phoenix-Tucson corridor — 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 for 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.”

Crossover will help existing churches identify and engage their neighborhoods,

Bass added. 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. 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.”

New church starts participating in Crossover 2011 in Phoenix

are Valley Life

Church with pastor Brian Bowman; Symbiotic

Church with pastor Dennis Conner;

International Baptist Ministries Fellowship with pastor Yaw Poku; and El Puente

Church with pastor Armando Barraza.

Other church starts in the area that are participating are Vintage Church in

Tucson with pastor Tommy Russell; Community Church of Red Rock with pastor

Jimmie Woods; Mission Point Baptist Fellowship in Chandler with pastor Bill

May; International Baptist Ministries Fellowship in Gilbert with pastor Yaw

Poku; Silent Hope Ministries, a church to the deaf in Mesa with pastor Jeremy

Fass; Seyenna Vista Apartments Church in Mesa with pastor Louis Spears; and New

Jerusalem Missionary in El Mirage with pastor Clarence Bradley.

“We have 30,000 homes in this area with no church around,” said Bowman of the

new Valley Life

Church. Sent in January by the

Mullins Baptist Association in Oklahoma,

Bowman is in the beginning stages of developing a core group, with plans to

make a splash during Crossover in local shopping centers and neighborhoods.

Valley Life

Church will not officially launch

until next year, but Bowman hopes Crossover will provide follow-up

opportunities that will prove crucial to a successful start.

“Our challenge is getting our name out there and gaining exposure,” Bowman

said. “At Crossover we’re able to take over this huge parking lot in the

community of Norterra. We’ll be giving away movie tickets. We’ll have bounce

houses and a block party at this shopping center.”

NAMB church planting missionary Louis Spears noted that one in three residents

in greater Phoenix lives in

multifamily housing communities that are closed to door-to-door witnessing. And

only 3 percent ever leave their communities to attend church. The Valley Rim

Baptist Association has made it a priority to start churches in such settings.

Steve 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 16 of the state’s 23 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

hold a celebration of the week’s successes during the weekend before the SBC

annual meeting.

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,” Bass added.

“You’re always presenting over and against competing views.”

Since its beginning in 1989 in Las Vegas,

Crossover has provided Southern Baptists an opportunity to collectively shine

light in communities across North America as equipped

churches and incoming volunteers mobilize to encourage each other and make

disciples.

“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 assist new

church plants in the Phoenix area, visit www.churchplantingvillage.net/crossover2011.

For those unable to travel to Arizona

this summer, Southern Baptists can join in an online prayer community at

facebook.com/SBCpray4AZ or by following twitter.com/sbcpray4az.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

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