"Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church. He said the Church should go to the whole world, and this is our way of doing that..." -Pastor Greg Laurie
[Stream.org] Thousands of churches nationwide have been mobilizing what organizers expect to be the largest evangelistic event in U.S. history. On Sunday, June 10, Pastor Greg Laurie will spearhead the Harvest America live event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas—home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. (Photo: Harvest Ministries previously hosted a large-scale event at the venue on March 6, 2016/Harvest Ministries/via Stream.org)
A diverse Dallas-area coalition is building on the success of a similar 2016 event. "Two years ago, when we went to AT&T Stadium, 215,000 people were watching this event live at host sites around the United States," says Laurie to The Stream. "Add that to the already 82,000 participating live at the stadium, it made Harvest America 2016 the largest one-day live evangelistic event in American history."
Several popular bands will perform at the event, notably Switchfoot, who have been on hiatus since last December. Worship artists Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham will lead those gathered in songs of praise, while rapper Trip Lee and songwriter David Crowder will also be featured during the program.
A popular author who pastors a California megachurch, the evangelist has preached to over six million people since Harvest events began in 1990. Notably, Harvest America will mark the first stadium evangelistic event in the U.S. since Billy Graham died on February 21. In an interview, Laurie shares why stadium gatherings still matter and why unity among Christians is essential.
Stepping On to the Field
The Stream: What is the vision for this Harvest America rally at one of the nation's biggest NFL stadiums?
Greg Laurie: Our objective is clear, and that is to reach as many people on one day as we possibly can. The mission statement of Harvest America is one day, one Church, one message. On one day, which is June 10, we will gather as one Church.
Though churches have theological distinctions, we have a lot more in common as the Body of Christ. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that Herose again from the dead. We believe if we turn from our sins and put our faith in Him, we can be forgiven, begin a relationship with God, and go to Heaven when we die.
Finally, the one message we preach is the Gospel that we all believe. By using modern technology, we're able to take this same service taking place live at AT&T Stadium and bring it into church sanctuaries, movie theaters and other venues all around the U.S. and the world.
The Stream: Americans are so splintered today into subcultures. Are stadium rallies still an effective means to reach people with the Gospel message?
Laurie: If God decides to change the Bible, then we can change our approach to these things. Since the Bible will never change, there will always be a place for what I like to call proclamation evangelism—that is, speaking the Gospel.
God has primarily chosen to reach nonbelievers through the verbal articulation of the Gospel. Scripture asks, How will they hear unless someone tells them? And how can someone tell them unless they are sent? When it's all said and done, when God wanted to reach this world, He gave us a Book and a message, and He told us to proclaim that message.
"Though churches have theological distinctions, we have a lot more in common as the Body of Christ."
We may use new platforms of technology, but some things will never change. In the first century, their "cutting-edge tech" would be the Roman road system and a common language. Because the power of Rome had conquered a good part of the planet, their road system opened up the world. Secondly, Greek had been established as a common language. The apostles walked across those Roman roads and brought the Gospel in that language to people who had never heard it before.
Today, we have other forms of technology—everything from print media to websites, from radio to social media. It gives us an opportunity to go where people are. Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church. He said the Church should go to the whole world, and this is our way of doing that. By using media, it's almost like we're staging ten crusades in one day...
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