The Story of Harvest
A "Lost Boy" Finds His Way
When Greg Laurie attended local baseball games as a kid in Southern California, he had no idea he would later preach to the masses from second base at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Through God's intervention, Laurie overcame a troubled childhood and drug-laced adolescence to become a passionate evangelist and preacher, founding Harvest Christian Fellowship, which now has locations in Riverside and Irvine, Calif., and Maui, Hawaii, and has become one of the largest churches in the U.S.
"Jesus People" and Beyond
At age 17, Laurie became a Christian and gave up drugs and alcohol, joining the Jesus People—hippies who rejected substance abuse for a relationship with Christ. He matured in his faith and eventually became the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and was eager to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to Southern Californians in a non-traditional way. In 1990, with little more than personal experience, deep conviction, and great vision, the Harvest Crusades® were born as Laurie, along with Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, developed a simple strategy for presenting Christ's gospel message in a contemporary format. A plan evolved for a casual evening of high energy music, authentic worship, and a clear presentation of a biblical message.
Reaching a New Generation
At a time when many in the U.S. were questioning the effectiveness and the future of modern crusade evangelism, Laurie and Smith believed that large-scale evangelistic outreach had great potential for a new generation. The format would be contemporary and would appeal particularly to youth.
"I strongly believe that we've got to communicate the gospel so that it can be understood by secular-minded people," writes Laurie in his autobiography Lost Boy. "Otherwise we just end up talking to ourselves." Remarkably, more than 90,000 people attended the first Harvest Crusade in 1990, featuring Greg Laurie as the evangelist.
Now in its 28th year of evangelistic outreach, the Harvest Crusades continue to appeal to audiences of all ages, and have been hosted by churches across the country and around the world at venues like Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Dodger Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Through the years, Harvest has featured top name Christian musicians and special guests like Bethany Hamilton and Louis Zamperini, as well as a nightly message from Laurie, who has spoken at every Harvest Crusade event since 1990.
With a constant eye toward the future, Greg Laurie is always looking for ways to share the message of the Gospel in an ever-changing, increasingly high-tech world. Beginning with its first live crusade webcast in 1997, Harvest has pioneered the use of innovative technology, including live radio, Internet, podcasts and social media to share its message of faith and hope with the world.
Since 1990, Laurie's Harvest Crusade events have been attended by more than 7.6 million people worldwide, both in-person in stadiums & arenas across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and live via Internet broadcasts. But the greatest impact of the Harvest Crusades to date can be measured by the 489,345 people who have professed faith in Jesus Christ as a result of the gospel message presented by Greg Laurie at each event.
Download a PDF version of this article.
Media ContactLaura McGowan
Phone: (847) 347-5206