NAMB, Indiana Baptists preparing for Crossover evangelistic push in Indy

By Tobin Perry

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – “Indianapolis is known for a lot of really cool things, such as the Indianapolis Colts and the Indy 500, but what if it became known as the birthplace of the next Great Awakening for students?”

The North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) national director of next gen evangelism, Shane Pruitt, asked this thought-provoking question to set the stage for this year’s Crossover Student Rally, which aims to ignite a youth-led revival in the city long-known as the Crossroads of America.

Volunteer Katie Moates, 17, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church assists a dentist while the dental team wraps up dental care for a patient at the Epiphany Baptist Church during Crossover New Orleans in 2023. This year’s Crossover in Indianapolis will see participation from churches across Indianapolis and volunteers from throughout North America. Baptist Press photo by Sonya Singh

The rally, which includes worship, comedy, evangelism training and a Gospel message from Pruitt, is set for June 8 at Harvest Church in nearby Carmel.

In the days leading up to the rally, Southern Baptist seminary students will canvass the local community, inviting neighbors to the event. Pruitt is also asking local youth ministers to bring their students to the event and encourage them to invite friends.

These efforts mark just one facet of the broader 2024 Crossover activities sponsored jointly by NAMB, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana (SCBI) and the Crossroads Baptist Association. Held annually since 1989, Crossover is an evangelistic emphasis in the host city held the week before the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting.

“It’s all about evangelism,” said J.J. Washington, NAMB’s national director of personal evangelism. “That’s been the intent from the beginning. We’re trying to make an impact in the host city with the Gospel.”

Indianapolis-area Southern Baptist churches are planning an array of evangelistic events, including door-to-door evangelism, block parties, sports camps, a marriage seminar and car washes.

The goal of all these events is for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him in believers’ baptism at a local Southern Baptist church.

This year’s Crossover includes several churches hosting a “Harvest Day” on Sunday, June 9. Harvest Day services include a clear presentation of the Gospel, an invitation to respond and a follow up strategy with new believers that includes making plans to be baptized.

“It’s just another way for churches to engage,” Washington said. “Some may feel they can’t host events due to their size or resources. But really, every Sunday should be about preaching the Gospel and inviting people to respond.”

Southern Baptists from around the North America can still register on the Crossover website to serve at these various evangelistic activities throughout the city. While a few of the volunteer opportunities are full, many have additional spots available.

“We’d like to fill up every project so these churches, which may not have enough manpower on their own, can really make a dent in their communities with the Gospel,” Washington added. “We’re dependent on volunteers to help make a significant impact.”

Shirley Johnson, part of the Gretna Covenant Church in Gretna, La., registers children attending a block party that was part of Crossover New Orleans which preceded the 2023 SBC annual meeting. This year’s Crossover in Indianapolis will see participation from churches across Indianapolis and volunteers from throughout North America. Photo by Josselyn Guillen

Washington says local churches have prepared for Crossover since last summer. NAMB staff delivered monthly training videos focusing on different areas of preparation, including prayer, planning and training for Gospel conversations. In April, they led an in-person training, as well.

“The training focused on one task a month, so churches weren’t overwhelmed and trying to do everything in April,” Washington said. “We told them, ‘You have one job this month.’ Then we gave them a video that explained that part. We also did that for the volunteers coming in to serve.”

Living Faith Church, a church with two locations in Downtown Indianapolis, is planning nine different events in the city, including two block parties, a ladies’ tea, an art camp and a dental outreach.

“We do outreach all the time, and as long as people are willing to come and help, we’re going to take advantage of that help,” said Yale Wall, the church’s pastor. “We believe we’ll be able to reach thousands of people with the Gospel.”

Wall says the neighborhoods around the two Living Faith campuses have significant spiritual and physical needs. Drug use, prostitution and violence are significant issues for these communities. Gospel-proclaiming churches are few and far between.

When Wall planted the first Living Faith church near Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, 9 out of every 10 people he met had never heard the Gospel.

Indianapolis is one of 32 cities throughout North America that NAMB has specifically designated as Send Cities where they have a strategic focus to start new churches through the Send Network, NAMB’s church planting arm.

Two of Living Faith’s Crossover events are associated with a new church plant the church is planning to launch in 2026 in the Riverside neighborhood of Indianapolis. Wall hopes the events of Crossover will help Southern Baptists see the deep spiritual needs in the city.

“Crossover isn’t just a one-time event for us,” Wall said. “It’s about forming long-term partnerships and seeing sustained impact in our community. We hope it helps other churches see the need not just as a weekend project but as a decades-long commitment.”

For more information about how you and your church can get involved in Crossover, visit

Published May 15, 2024

Tobin Perry

Tobin Perry writes for Baptist Press.