RIVERSIDE, Calif. Even as hundreds of staff and volunteers prepare for the Sept. 28 and 29 national Harvest America campaign, evangelist Greg Laurie is reminding Christians of the mandate to spread the gospel.
"We may think the work of evangelism is only for those who are called to be evangelists," he said. "Granted, there are people in the church whom God has raised up to be evangelists, and certainly evangelism is not limited to those who preach to hundreds or thousands at a time. I have seen many individual believers who obviously have this gift."
He stressed the call to evangelism is not limited to Matthew 28:19-20, but is also found in Proverbs 11:30 and Daniel 12:3.
"I believe that God wants to use all of us to bring people to Himself," said Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside.
Laurie, who founded the Harvest Crusade stadium events in 1990 and will host the annual Anaheim gathering on Aug. 23 to 25, established its counterpart Harvest America last year as a way to broaden the reach of the crusades through high definition simulcasts.
Last year's inaugural one-night event in Anaheim brought together 306,000 people at 2,400 host locations across the country.
This year's campaign will be broadcast from Philadelphia.
"Harvest America can be a catalyst for a believer to utilize in his or her evangelistic efforts," he said. "After all, there are a lot of unbelievers who won't go to church when Christians invite them. Something about the idea of going to church intimidates them.
"When you invite them to a theater, coffee house or living room, however, they are more likely to go with you. But whatever the motive an unbeliever may have for coming to a Harvest Crusades event, they will hear the gospel."
In order for the concept to work, however, Harvest America is counting on local churches to host viewings. In addition to satellite technology, the crusade will also be broadcast on the Internet.
"Any congregation is welcome to participate in Harvest America," Laurie said. "This event is from the church, for the church, to build up the church. By that, I mean the objective of this event is not to grow the 'Harvest' brand, or to build up any particular denomination or to pursue any agenda other than the simple proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Our objective is to spiritually build up the local church in any given community. We would be delighted to hear that local congregations all over the country grew numerically as a result of this outreach, but it's not the numbers that are importantit is the individual lives of those who hear and respond to the gospel."
To find out more about Harvest America and how you can get involved, visit www.harvestamerica.com
When: Aug. 23-25
Time: 7:00 p.m. nightly
Where: Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Musicians: TobyMac, Colton Dixon, NeedToBreathe, Third Day, King & Country, Phil Wickham
Speaker: Evangelist Greg Laurie
Special Appearance: Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson
What: Harvest America
When: Sep. 28-29
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET) / 4:00 p.m. (PT)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Simulcast: Thousands of locations worldwide
Musicians: MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Kirk Franklin, NeedToBreathe, Lecrae, The Katinas
Speaker: Evangelist Greg Laurie