Evangelist Greg Laurie is gearing up for his 30th annual Southern California Harvest Crusade later this month, an event that has become a tradition for thousands and will feature one of the strongest Christian music lineups ever assembled for the event.
Laurie, the senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship of California and Hawaii, spoke with The Christian Post Monday to discuss the upcoming three-night event, how evangelism has changed in the last three decades and how Christians should respond when their loved ones begin “falling away” from their faith (read transcript below).
The Southern California Harvest Crusade, the longest-running evangelistic outreach event in the U.S. that has seen over 500,000 make decisions for Christ in the last 30 years, will take place from Aug. 23 to Aug. 25 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
While Harvest has become known for its lively worship music featuring artists from different genres, Laurie says this year’s lineup is likely to be the strongest musical lineup assembled for a Harvest weekend.
The lineup includes popular Christian rapper Lecrae, popular contemporary Christian singer/songwriters Jeremy Camp and Chris Tomlin as well as Christian bands for King & Country and Newsboys.
“We wanted this one to be really special,” Laurie, who first began holding evangelistic Crusades in 1990, said. “So you know, we pretty much pulled out all the stops and tried to make every night effective.”
The event will also feature testimony from former MLB all-star Darryl Strawberry, who overcame his notorious struggles with drugs and alcohol and now runs a Gospel ministry with his wife.
“I think there’s a lot of people in our culture that are struggling with these things. Opioid use is at an all-time high, binge drinking is up. And I think people are trying to escape from their problems,” Laurie said. “And I think there’s just a lot of people out there that don’t understand why there’s still a hole in their heart, even when they’ve checked all the boxes that they think they should check to be happy. I myself used to drink. I myself used to use drugs. And I know how empty I was. Christ filled that hole in my heart.”
As each of the three nights of worship will conclude with Gospel messages from Laurie, the preacher said he plans to focus on three themes: hope, happiness and Heaven.
“I want to talk about hope because Generation Z has been described as a hopeless generation. They have been described as the loneliest generation in American history with the highest suicide rate of any generation, the highest use of pharmaceuticals of any generation,” he said. “So it’s amazing to me that we’ve gone from the greatest generation, those that came to World War II, to the hopeless generation. And so I want to bring a message of hope to them and everyone else.”
Although music and culture at Harvest Crusades have changed with the times over the last three decades, Laurie assured that his message for the crowd is basically the same as it was in 1990.
“The real message I have is telling people how to come into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” he said. “And there’s just a lot of people out there that don’t know how to do that. And so I want to show them the way.”
At the end of each night, Laurie presents those in attendance with the option to come onto the baseball field to indicate their willingness or recommitment to give their lives to Christ.
When on the field, volunteers take down the contacts for those who indicated decisions for Christ so that churches in the local communities can follow up with those people and help them mature in their walk with Christ.
At SoCal Harvest 2018, over 10,000 people made decisions for Christ in the three nights.
Below is an edited partial transcript of CP’s interview with Laurie, which features questions about SoCal Harvest 2019, the state of evangelism in the U.S., deconversions and mass shootings.
Christian Post: What does it mean for you to reach this 30-year milestone?
Laurie: Well, I have to admit, it’s pretty surprising. I never thought 30 years ago, we would still be doing these, especially on the scale that we’re doing them. You know, since we started 30 years ago, we’ve gone all around the country and around the world, and have seen the power of the Gospel on display.
But to think that we’re still in Southern California 30 years later, in the same basic venue, which is the Angel Stadium — the name has changed many times from Anaheim Stadium to Edison field, to Angel Stadium — but it’s basically the same place. And from what I understand is, this is the longest-running, large-scale evangelism event in American history.
I’ve never heard of anything like this happening anywhere else. You know, Billy Graham would go to certain cities and sometimes have extended events. And then he would even return to cities, as we have done as well. But to see something happening consecutively year after year for three decades is, as far as I know, unprecedented.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith