By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE — Approximately 100 students from Southern Baptist Convention seminaries spent the week in Nashville prior to the SBC’s annual meeting, knocking on doors, inviting people to local churches, and sharing the gospel whenever the opportunity arose.
Several Nashville-area churches took advantage of the opportunity to use seminary students to help reach their communities during Crossover, an evangelistic event held in the host city of the convention prior to the annual meeting each year.
New Day Church in Bellevue is a recent church plant. Because COVID-19 basically stopped most evangelistic outreach last year, pastor James Dean viewed Crossover “almost like a relaunch” for the church.
New Day sent students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary out into the community for five days. Students handed out information about the church and talked to residents.
Doctoral candidate Ben Sutton praised Southwestern for “instilling the Great Commission” into its students.
“We do that by learning how to share our faith and going out and doing it practically,” Sutton said.
He noted that when Southwestern students go out, “we usually see people accept Christ because we are stepping out in faith and we believe the Holy Spirit can convict the hearts of people around us.”
“We are appreciative of the students for being here and helping us,” Dean said about the event.
Because New Day is only two-and-a-half years old, “we are still not only trying to share the gospel, but to get to know our community,” Dean said.
“We thought Crossover would give us a great opportunity to knock on doors and meet people,” he added.
In addition to evangelistic outreach during the week, New Day also hosted a “New Day in the Park” on Saturday as another way to reach the community.
The church provided inflatables for the children as well as hot dogs and popsicles to all who attended, the pastor said. Then, on Sunday, members were encouraged to bring a friend to church for an evangelistic message.
“It has been a full week for us,” Dean acknowledged. “We were very excited for the opportunity.”
On the east side of the city, Scenic View Baptist Church, near the Donelson area, also hosted students.
Scenic View also planned to send the students out into the community for face-to-face encounters, said pastor Van Richmond. He said the students were encouraged to ask for prayer requests and to invite residents to the church. “That gives us something to follow up on,” Richmond said.
The pastor added that members of Scenic View “were excited to meet with young people who are responding to God’s call on their lives. “We want to be an encouragement to them,” he said.
Richmond expressed gratitude to the Nashville Baptist Association, the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and the North American Mission Board for providing resources “to make this happen.”
Rusty Sumrall, director of missions for Nashville Baptist Association, observed midweek that Crossover was going well.
“I am excited and thankful for the students who have come to work with our churches,” he said. “Our pastors have been very excited and hopeful as they looked forward to the seminary students going out into their communities this week,” he added.
Sumrall also expressed appreciation for the association’s partnership with the TBMB and the Southern Baptist seminaries to make it possible for the seminary students who work with local churches to share the gospel.
“It has worked in this instance and it has been a great success,” he affirmed. B&R