With the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Southern California, an exciting prospect came with it as local churches were given the opportunity to participate in a regionalized evangelism initiative called Crossover. Since 1989, the North American Mission Board has reported more than 30,000 professions of faith in Christ through Crossover events. Many CSBC churches signed up to be a part of this special evangelistic opportunity.
Since Southern California is so active and filled with GEN Z students, Crossover participants focused on reaching the next generation through special events like youth nights, sports camps, and special outreach projects to impact young people with the gospel. At my church (Magnolia Church), we do a youth summer outreach called the Exalted Student Experience. Exalted is a free, five-day event that focuses on topics in youth culture to help teenagers know their God-given purpose. When I heard about Crossover, we decided to turn our outreach into a Crossover event. With the grant we received from NAMB through California Southern Baptist Convention, we were able to reach 220 students, with, 38 volunteers and 296 YouTube LIVE views. We also raised $429 for missions in South Asia! Most importantly, we had 39 decisions for Jesus throughout the week!
This was just one of the many NAMB Crossover stories that took place. God moved in a beautiful way across Southern California. I believe it will be a great idea to continue doing youth summer outreach projects. Here are three reasons:
1. Students are hungry for truth. They don’t know who to listen to in a world filled with lies. It was remarkable to see several hundred GEN Z students show up to learn from 10 different speakers who taught on youth culture topics such as identity, anxiety, purpose, relationships, social media, and the gospel. Many of our students said they loved how we covered so many topics and helped equip them with the truth. Now they feel ready for the new school year.
2. Students want to escape the stress. They are burdened with a ton of stress that is internal and external. They are dealing with emotional, mental and spiritual stress due to difficult relationships, home dynamics and cultural expectations. Our event provided a space for GEN Z Students to escape the daily pressures, be accepted as teenagers and be vulnerable with God.
3. Students need a place to belong. They feel displaced and not welcomed in many places with adults. Our churches cannot wait for students to come to them. Churches need to go to where the students are today. Outreach events are bridges to your church and help you reach GEN Z students.
After the success of our youth summer outreach event, we are planning to do it again next year to reach more students! I pray you will consider doing it too.
RJ McCauley serves as Student Ministries Pastor at Magnolia Church in Riverside, Ca. He is currently working on his Master of Theological Studies and D.Min. at Gateway. He has earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at California Baptist University. RJ is married to Melissa, and they share a daughter.
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