Southern Baptists partner to take gospel to Indianapolis during annual outreach

About 51 percent of Hoosiers, inhabitants of Indiana, say they seldom or never attend church or religious services, according to a recent report by Axios Indianapolis. One local pastor is praying that Crossover will help to turn those numbers around.

“We are hoping that Crossover is a spark that will light that fuel of revival and evangelism here in our community, help us build up some of our churches,” said Roger Kinion, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Greenfield, Ind.

For months leading up to the event, the North American Mission Board, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, along with the Crossroads Baptist Association, worked together in support of 44 local churches in the area who went door to door in their communities, hosted block parties and met needs in underserved communities through 60 different projects taking place from June 3 to June 8.

Two students from Fall Creek Church in Indianapolis attempt to putt at the disc golf clinic and competition June 8 in Indianapolis. (Photo by Luc Stringer)

Kinion served as the local liaison between NAMB and Southern Baptist churches in the Indianapolis area, and volunteers from across the United States came together to serve the city and surrounding communities while presenting the hope of the gospel during Crossover Indianapolis.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of the enthusiasm that Crossover brings,” Kinion said. “A lot of the churches don’t have the large population within their own congregation to do things like block parties or even door-to-door evangelism. There are a lot of volunteer and bivocational pastors, a lot of small congregations.”

Students from Southern Baptist seminaries and mission teams from churches as nearby as Terre Haute, Ind., and as far away as Gridley, Calif., arrived to support local churches’ outreach efforts.

Michael Fitzgerald is associate pastor of students and families at First Baptist Church of Kearney, Mo., and he brought a team of students to help with various outreach projects during the week, such as door-to-door evangelism, helping a local church with a kids camp and picking up trash in the community.

“We’ve had dozens of fruitful spiritual conversations with folks both today picking up trash as well as going door to door,” Fitzgerald said. “The outreach with the kids at the camp was tremendous the last couple of days. We got to really minister to kids who are in deeply impoverished situations. So, getting to see joy and bring some happiness and love in their lives was tremendous.”

Local churches developed strategies designed to meet specific needs in their communities, from hosting sports camps to free health clinics.

Hre Mang, pastor of Falam Christian Church in Indianapolis, knocks on an apartment door as part of a street evangelism team that went door to door June 8 during Crossover 2024. (Photo by Elijah Hickman)

“As followers of Jesus, we are all called to engage the world around us through personal evangelism,” said J.J. Washington, national director for personal evangelism at NAMB. “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.”

This year, Crossover also featured a student evangelism rally with worship and a message by Shane Pruitt, NAMB’s national director for Next Gen evangelism.

Living Faith Church hosted the Send Relief mobile dental clinic Saturday to meet the needs of those who do not regularly receive sound dental care among several other events the church participated in throughout the week.

In a Friday night post on Living Faith’s Facebook page, the church said volunteers had already shared the Gospel 400 times.

“We’ve seen a lot of people come to know Jesus at our church, but it’s always been in ones and twos in the max of a week,” said Living Faith pastor Yale Wall in the video. “It’s not an often thing, we’ve just been faithful to keep going, but this week, we’ve had 17 people put their faith in Jesus.”

Wall called what God was doing through the various Crossover events “unprecedented.”

Zamari McClain, 13, gets a snow cone from Hope Howard, member of Retoma Park Baptist Church in Texas, at a block party at Bertha Ross Park in Indianapolis on June 8. (Photo by Josselyn Guillen)

Chris Kellermeyer, associational mission strategist for the Crossroads Baptist Association in Indianapolis, praised the way the partnership highlighted what Southern Baptists can do when they come together.

Churches that are newer to the association were amazed to learn about how people from across the nation were willing not only to resource them but to come and help engage their communities, Kellermeyer said.

Volunteers came to the Metro Baptist Center during the week to help with a significant remodel of the building’s interior. The center regularly hosts a clothes closet and food pantry, but for Crossover they hosted a block party and opened their doors for those in need to come, enjoy some of the games, have a meal and take any items they needed.

“I’ve heard many good stories from people who were here witnessing and talking to people. People were encouraged, and there were several salvations today,” said Tom Polak, executive director of the center and pastor of the church that meets in the building.

Crossover “helps you realize the bigger picture, how we are a bigger organization,” Polak said. “Working with churches from Chicago or South Carolina or around the state just makes you feel good about being Southern Baptist and the work we do here, realizing we are a bigger family.”

— Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.