Louisiana Baptists praying for ‘huge’ Gospel impact during SBC annual meeting

By Brian Blackwell

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Louisiana Baptists say prayer is key to a pair of evangelistic efforts preceding the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, which is scheduled for June 13-14 in New Orleans.

The Send Relief Serve Tour, an effort that seeks to involve participants in service projects in Houma and New Orleans as the foundation for evangelism, will take place June 9-10. A celebration service will be held June 10 at First Baptist Church of New Orleans, with a meal at 5 p.m. and service at 6 p.m.

Additionally, Crossover, a large-scale evangelistic effort, will take place in the New Orleans Baptist Association and North Shore Baptist Association on June 10.

Jacob Crawford shared during a breakout session at the 2023 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference that prayer will play a key role in the upcoming Crossover and Serve Tour. Baptist Message/Brian Blackwell

The Serve Tour and Crossover weekend will wrap up with a Harvest Sunday, June 11. Churches in these areas will be encouraged to utilize evangelists to fill the pulpit that day.

Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn has set a combined goal for soul-winning through these two evangelistic efforts. In his report to the state convention’s executive board in September and then again at the LBC annual meeting in November, he shared that he is praying for 2,023 people to be saved.

“We know that the harvest is ripe for abundance in New Orleans,” Horn said during the annual meeting. “And, now we can say that the workers in that harvest are going to be more than usual at least for this abbreviated time. We cannot miss this strategic opportunity.”

Jacob Crawford, the Crossover point person for the New Orleans area and director of City Life NOLA, shared during a breakout session at the 2023 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference that prayer will play a key role in both evangelism efforts.

“Even the smallest church can do this and be a part of seeing communities come to know Jesus,” Crawford said. “Whether it’s Crossover or Serve, God is calling us to live on mission and share our faith. We could see God do something huge, but it all starts with prayer.

“It’ll be so encouraging to know your brothers and sisters are serving that day,” he continued. “You are the piece of a bigger puzzle. We will have to think outside the box in some communities to communicate the Gospel. I’m excited about what God will do.”

Alex Brian, Serve Tour local project manager, said tour opportunities will include rebuilding homes impacted by recent hurricanes in southeast Louisiana, partnering with a mobile dental and medical clinic operated by Baptist Community Health Services and assisting churches with various projects.

“Crossover and Serve Tour ground us in what makes us Southern Baptists, or Great Commission Baptists, in the first place – missions,” said Brian, who is also community ministries strategist for the New Orleans Baptist Association and pastor of Vieux Carre Baptist Church, New Orleans.

“We partner together because God is able to do more through us when we are working together, sharing the Gospel in word and in our work. Specifically, with Serve Tour, and as a pastor in downtown New Orleans, one thing I find myself trying to communicate with folks about the reality of ministry here is that compassion ministry is our urban apologetic,” he continued. “Serving our communities is how we are going to make the Gospel make sense to a people in need.

“Crossover and Serve Tour help to center the national activities of Southern Baptists on the local churches here in our region and the communities they serve,” he said. “We always talk about national entities existing to serve the local church, and this is a tangible opportunity to do just that. There’s probably going to be a lot of coverage in press and on socials about what it is Southern Baptists are gathering to do in New Orleans this year, and I would hope that we can truthfully answer by saying we came here to love and to serve the people of this community in the name of Jesus.”

Published March 8, 2023

Brian Blackwell

Brian Blackwell is a staff writer at the Louisiana Baptist Message.