Why Reaching & Teaching Is Thrilled to Be a Major Sponsor of CROSS Conference

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A few weeks ago, Reaching & Teaching decided to become a major sponsor of this year’s CROSS Conference. Lord willing, this missions conference for 18 to 25-year-olds will happen in Louisville on December 29 to January 1. 

Historically, Reaching & Teaching hasn’t had a presence at CROSS. So why this year? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are four reasons why we’re excited to sponsor CROSS 2021.

1. We love the conference collaborators.

Over the last year, I’ve had a number of conversations with Matt Schmucker, the man who oversees the conference from behind the scenes. Matt has become a fast friend because we’re passionate about the same things. 

Furthermore, when I look over at the other major sponsors of CROSS, I’m encouraged by the relationships that already exist. Our team has recently spent time with the crew at Radius International. We’ll be at their conference in Minneapolis next month, and we’ve just appointed four families who were trained by them. We hope to send more in the years ahead. 

I’ve spent countless hours on Desiring God’s website devouring John Piper’s writing and preaching. I cannot overstate his influence on my life and theology. The same is true for many missionaries on our team. Some of their stories are strikingly similar. Perhaps they read Let the Nations Be Glad or Desiring God. And once they did, they felt the Lord leading them to leave the comfort and familiarity of “home” and spend their lives overseas.

As a young finance executive in Toronto, I read David Platt’s Radical. God used that book to set my life on a different trajectory, one that ultimately led me to Reaching & Teaching. My wife and I have hosted Secret Church nights in our home with 20 of our closest friends, all huddled around a television in our basement. It feels like a complete circle to be sponsoring CROSS alongside Radical. 

It’s surely no surprise that Crossway has been instrumental in my continued growth as a Christian. I give away a ton of their books—whether it’s on missions or something else. I’m especially thankful for their Global Ministry Initiatives, which gets free resources to needy churches around the globe.

2. We love the nations.

As of today, Reaching & Teaching has full-time missionaries in 28 countries. We’ve seen firsthand the enormous need for more workers. The nations need more evangelists and disciplers, more healthy churches and qualified leaders. This is true in a variety of international contexts—from unreached peoples to international cities full of English speakers. Recent statistics state that there are over 3,000 language groups around the world who currently don’t have access to the gospel in their language. Furthermore, 85% of church leaders outside of North America do not have access to theological training. The needs are vast and diverse.

We know that when we show up at CROSS, we’ll be in a big room full of people who love the nations as much as we do. We’re excited to partner with some of their churches to send them to the far reaches of the world to “tell among the peoples his deeds” (Psalm 9:11)! Who knows how the Lord may use these connections to make Himself known among the nations?

3. We love the attendees.

CROSS is for 18 to 25-year-olds and their leaders. We love that. Why? Because young people are eager and teachable. They want to spend their lives on meaningful work. They’re passionate about declaring the gospel to those who haven’t heard it. 

They’re also a bit like wet cement. They’re in a season of life where they can pursue both education and experiences that will launch them into the rest of their lives. I can’t wait to spend hours upon hours at the Reaching & Teaching booth, chatting with CROSS attendees and hearing about their big, exciting plans. I can’t wait to see how we can come alongside them to help them be faithful church members at home. I can’t wait to see how we might partner with them in the future in making mature disciples, establishing healthy churches, and training local leaders.

Thankfully, I won’t be doing this alone. I’ll be happily standing alongside our incredible group of experienced missionaries and stateside staff members. As the father of a teenager—who’s now only four years away from attending her first CROSS conference!—these are exactly the kind of missions-minded people I want my daughter to befriend. 

Our team is already scheming about how we can foster meaningful and mutually encouraging relationships with CROSS attendees. We trust that many people we meet in December will become colleagues and teammates in the years ahead!

4. We love the local church.

The missions world is full of chatter about “church planting.” But sadly, there’s often little discussion on what’s meant by “church.” Perhaps that’s why many Christians who desire to go overseas—both young and old—rarely think about what that desire has to do with the local church. 

At Reaching & Teaching, we want to make much of the church’s necessary and primary role in missions. And what better venue than CROSS to communicate that vision to a room full of thousands of missions-minded young people from all over the world. 

That’s Priority #1 for our time at CROSS: to make much of the church as we look forward to the day when we will “rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

We hope to see you there.

Ryan Robertson

Ryan Robertson serves as President of Reaching & Teaching. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Missiology program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ryan and his wife Erin have three children and are members of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, where Ryan also serves as an elder.

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