June 19, 2002
ST. LOUIS — More than 2,300 professions of faith in Jesus were recorded as Missouri and Illinois Baptists joined hands for Crossover St. Louis prior to the Southern Baptist Convention June 11-12, according to Benny King, executive director of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association.
Crossover events have been used to reach communities hosting the convention in recent years and this year’s effort focused on the entire St. Louis metropolitan area.
The Crossover partnership for St. Louis consisted of seven associations: Twin Rivers, Jefferson, St. Louis, and Franklin in Missouri, plus three associations in Illinois. Crossover events included block parties, door-to-door surveys, "kindness explosions," collegiate events, and a media blitz offering "Jesus" videos.
"Offering the Jesus video on television led to the partnership with Illinois," King said. "The entire area is served by the same media. We decided to all work together for Crossover."
The associations were pleased with the result.
"The ad (offering the Jesus video) generated 2,709 requests for the video," King said. "This was far greater than we anticipated.
"We had 46 block parties in the seven associations and 22 churches did door-to-door surveys and witnessing. In addition, we had eight different locations with street-witnessing teams. These teams reported 212 professions of faith."
The results reflected the emphasis the teams put on evangelism, said Tim Lucas, team leader and church planter consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) East Central Ministry Resource Team. "We wanted to take advantage of all of the messengers from in and out of the region."
Many vacationers visited the sites chosen for the Crossover teams. If a tourist made a decision for Christ, the information was forwarded to their state convention to put them in touch with a local church.
"Follow-up is an important part of Crossover," Lucas said. "Follow-up packets are given to churches to help them with step-by-step discipleship."
Lucas used Emmanuel Baptist Church in north St. Louis as an example.
"This African-American church reached more than 800 people and 100 people actually attended their event. They had 10 people saved and they are already involved in Bible study."
Bruce Rector, Emerging Generation Initiative (EGI) Consultant for the MBC’s East Central region, reported on the collegiate events.
"We covered nine campuses in Missouri and Illinois with the help of 60 workers and students from Oklahoma, South Carolina and Missouri," Rector said.
Plans for the collegiate events began last July with a five-member committee. Rector and Ed Moncada, both EGI consultants for East Central Missouri, Billy Grady, North American Mission Board and EGI consultant for Southwest Missouri, plus Greg Alexander and Phil Nelson, both with the Illinois Baptist State Association, made up the committee.
"We decided to focus on surveys and prayer walks on the campuses," Rector said. "We began on June 5 for training with two days (June 6-7) for the campus work. Then, the students could help with the other Crossover events on the weekend."
More than 200 surveys were conducted during the two days on the campuses.
"The surveys were in two parts," Rector said. "The first dealt with the ‘how’ and ‘where’ we can connect with students. Much of our work with students has been with residential students, but in St. Louis 80 percent of the students are commuters. This will help us better understand how to connect with those students."
"The second part," he added, "dealt with where the student was spiritually and gave us the opportunity to share. Student witnesses reported excellent conversations during their testimony time. Many were amazed at the number of agnostics and atheists. Even if the student claimed spiritual understanding, many were weak in their foundations. Many seeds were planted and watered during these conversations."
A Crossover event at First Baptist, Lemay featured a balloon release. More than 10,000 balloons were released from the church with a witnessing tract and an offer for a Jesus video inside. To date, the associations have received requests from 23 states.
"Kindness Explosions" were held at four locations known for their foot traffic: Soulard Market, Forest Park, Old Town in St. Charles, and East Alton. Walkers were greeted with smiles, cups of water and evangelistic tracts.
A special outreach, called the "Gold Coin Ministry," took place during Crossover. Women, specially trained to talk and witness to female nightclub dancers and waitresses, conduct the ministry. The women visited several of the strip clubs located in Illinois.