SBC 2024: ‘The church has left the building’: SBC Crossover team takes unique approach to open doors for spiritual conversations

Tony Mathews, SBTC senior strategist for missional ministries, was among the hundreds of volunteers who participated in Crossover 2024, held in conjunction each year with the SBC Annual Meeting. SUBMITTED PHOTO

INDIANAPOLIS—Tailgate parties—where fans gather, socialize, and barbecue in stadium parking lots before a sporting event—usually require people to come to them.

Living Faith Church in Indianapolis tried something a little different this past weekend as part of the evangelistic Crossover event held each year in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

The church brought the party to the people.

Living Faith Church held a mobile “tell gate” party, serving traditional stadium fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs to residents of the Indianapolis neighborhood of Riverside. The food was cooked on a grill fastened to a rack on the back of a van, which included a decal on one of its back doors stating, “The church has left the building.”

The strategy was simple: meet needs through food service, make connections, and tell people about the love—and saving power—of Jesus. The church later reported that, through a series of Crossover-related events over the past couple of days, it had shared the gospel with 400 people and seen 17 put their faith in Christ.

Living Faith’s “tell gate” team was joined by members of SBC churches from as far away as Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas.

“Friends from around the country joined us to serve burgers door-to-door in Riverside today,” stated a June 8 post on the church’s Facebook page. “Together, we extended the love of Jesus in conversations and condiments.”

Tony Mathews, senior strategist of missional ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, was on the Living Faith team.

“It was an amazing event,” Mathews said. “Not only did we get to interact with the people in the neighborhoods, but we got to pray for them, pray for their families, and share the gospel with them. The response was incredible. You could tell they really appreciated what we were doing.

Zamari McClain, 13, gets a snow cone from Hope Howard, a member of Retama Park Baptist Church—an SBTC church in Kingsville, Texas—at a block party at Bertha Ross Park in Indianapolis on June 8. JOSSELYN GUILLEN PHOTO/BAPTIST PRESS

The North American Mission Board, which hosted Crossover 2024 in partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana and the Indianapolis-based Crossroads Baptist Association, said 44 local churches participated in the event from June 3-8. Those efforts included block parties, sports camps, health clinics, door-to-door evangelism, and service projects. Students from several Southern Baptist seminaries also participated in Crossover, NAMB reported. A number of SBTC churches participated in the event, as well.

“As followers of Jesus we are all called to engage the world around us through personal evangelism,” said JJ Washington, NAMB’s national director for personal evangelism. “Crossover is an event where we get to put that into practice. I’ve been thrilled to see Indiana Baptist churches embrace the opportunity both in the preparation leading up to Crossover and in proclaiming Jesus to the people in their communities scattered throughout Indianapolis.”

Mathews said plans are already underway for Crossover 2025 when the SBC Annual Meeting comes to Dallas. SBTC churches are invited to a NAMB-hosted Crossover interest meeting, which will include an evangelism toolkit training, scheduled for Oct. 22 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

Information from the North American Mission Board was used in this report.

Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
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