North Carolina Baptists can bring Greg Laurie into their homes or churches in September.
Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, Calif., was recently part of the lineup at the Pastor’s Conference prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston.
But in September he could be streaming live to a venue near you. Laurie will be in Philadelphia Sept. 28-29 for his Harvest America crusade.
Area churches brought Laurie to Raleigh via Internet in 2012, and the screen didn’t seem to distract those who watched.
“Once he’s preaching, it didn’t matter,” said Steve Noble about last year’s event. “It’s just the Word of God and the message.”
Noble, host of Called2Action Today (c2athisweek.org/CMS/) on FM/AM radio in North Carolina’s major cities, serves as Harvest’s director of East Coast mobilization.
A member of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, Noble helped organize efforts when Raleigh hosted Laurie for a Harvest event in 2007. Noble’s radio show – on Monday through Friday – provides a regular platform for him to share about Harvest and other ministries promoting the gospel.
The Harvest event is a few weeks before My Hope with Billy Graham (myhopewithbillygraham.org). Noble said the two could be paired together since both are evangelistic outreach opportunities.
New believers, who make decisions during the crusade, could use the My Hope opportunity in November to share their faith with others, Noble said.
‘Hope is on the Way’
Throughout the summer, an 18-wheel mobile theater – emblazoned with “Hope is on the Way” on the side – is promoting Harvest America.
Steve Noble uses his radio show Called2Action Today as a platform to spread information about ministry opportunities, including Harvest America.
The truck was parked at the SBC annual meeting and in Charlotte a few weeks ago for a couple of races.
A 27-seat theater allows participants to feel like they are attending a crusade. People can sign up to host or for more information at the truck, which will be stopping at bookstores, radio rallies and concerts.
Harvest crusades began in 1990 in Orange County, Calif. Since then, Laurie has preached to nearly 5 million people.
“It is however you want to use it,” Noble said, indicating people can participate via Internet, satellite television or a Roku device. The latter was what Noble used at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium last year.
These Harvest events offer people a “cost-effective way to reach a boatload of people,” Noble said.
The two-night event includes one night geared to a more urban audience. Sept. 28, the musical guests will be Kirk Franklin, LeCrae and Needtobreathe. The next night, MercyMe and Jeremy Camp will perform. The ministry’s Anaheim crusades drew almost 125,000 people. But the number of people viewing it online has continued to grow and in recent crusades has surpassed the physical attendance.
One of the places Laurie was streamed in 2012 was at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs.
Part of a multi-denominational, multi-ethnic effort with the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association, the event drew around 2,000 people. More than 40 decisions were made.
“I think it’s going to be a wave of the future,” said Keith Dixon, associational missionary. “It was a good thing for the churches to get together.”
Part of the draw of using the streaming event was the versatility. Churches, organizations and even individuals can build an event around Laurie’s message, using the included music or providing your own.
For Greater Cleveland’s association, they utilized a combined choir. More than 100 people sang in the choir leading up to Laurie’s message.
Get the word out
Smaller and more rural churches have been more apt to use the streaming option because a crusade of this magnitude is unlikely to be held in their areas. “It’s not going to happen,” Noble said, indicating that Laurie or Billy Graham would not hold a crusade in a smaller city because there wouldn’t be a large enough venue. “They’d have to drive to a big city to get it.”
But he encourages those churches to go to the site and sign up to host the September event. The crusade is easy to stream live at a variety of locations – from someone’s living room, a church or a concert hall – and for a relatively low cost. Gardner-Webb’s facility was offered to the organizers for use.
Noble’s vision for Harvest America is not just for the crusade this year. He’s strategically planning a long-term campaign.
He has already communicated with many of the state offices for Baptist conventions in the south and plans to visit them to share about opportunities available to them through the ministry.
If he doesn’t recruit them this year, he wants them to come on board in 2014 or 2015. The ministry usually hosts two or three big events each year that can be simulcast. “I like these things because they get people thinking in terms of the Kingdom,” Noble said. “It gets you outside of my church, my Sunday School class and my friends to say ‘look what’s happening all over the nation.’”
Once someone signs up, they will be walked through simple steps on Harvest’s website (harvestamerica.com) to ensure they have what they need.