The Rev. Greg Laurie is uninhibited when sharing his Christian faith and says his “sweet spot” is in a pulpit, even in front of thousands of people.
Laurie hopes he’ll be preaching to almost 100,000 people Sunday at AT&T Stadium. The event, Harvest America, could be the biggest evangelistic event in North Texas since a four-night Billy Graham crusade in 2002 at the old Texas Stadium.
Also on the program are Christian worship artists Chris Tomlin, Lecrae, MercyMe and Switchfoot.
Laurie has been in North Texas recently promoting the event and lining up church sponsors. He spoke at Gateway Church in Southlake, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano and Dallas Baptist University. One day began on a local newscast, and then he visited Daystar Television for an interview in the afternoon and ended up in the Fort Worth Stockyards, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Laurie, 63, the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Irvine, Calif., has conducted other well-attended evangelistic campaigns in massive venues in recent years. He spoke to the Star-Telegram on Friday.
You write about growing up in a rough home life with an irresponsible mother, but you became a Christian. Do you see yourself as example of how to discover Christian faith without a strong Christian upbringing?
My mother was raised in the church, but she left home and went into a string of marriages, a lot of boyfriends and she was an alcoholic. She did everything she could to raise me in a home without faith. As Easter was approaching, I asked her about the meaning and she said, “I don’t know.” But she knew. She didn’t want me to know. But it was a good thing that God wanted me to know. I also could have ended up an alcoholic or divorced. But God intervened and broke that cycle.
Has America has forgotten about God?
No question about that. Surprisingly, the No. 1 religious group in America is not Catholics or Protestants. They are a group that’s identified as the “Nones.” It’s people who are into spirituality, which means a little bit of everything, perhaps. I want to speak to people like that. Before I was a Christian, I once was a Nones. I didn’t know what I believed and had no world view to speak of. I was just kind of waiting to be formed. I didn’t know there was an instruction manual, which is the Bible, on God’s love for us on how to live life.
What shape is the church in today?
Some of America’s strongest churches are in the DFW Metroplex. Churches that are teaching the Bible and honoring the Lord are healthy and growing. Churches that don’t teach the Bible and don’t believe it are losing people.
What are some characteristics of a successful church?
It can be summed up in the acronym “WELL” and it’s described in Acts 2:42-47. The W stands for worship, and that means staying current with fresh praise and worship songs. The E stands for an evangelistic church, which means a church should be reaching out. For example, we have over 700 churches in the Metroplex involved in Harvest America this weekend that obviously understand sharing their faith. The first L stands for Learning. A church must give a major place to teaching the Bible. The second L stands for a loving church. The early (first century) Christians looked out for each other and took care of one another. In summary, it’s a church that’s strongly worshiping, evangelizing, learning and loving.
You’ve developed a close relationship with the Rev. Billy Graham. What have you learned from one of the greatest evangelists?
I had a crash course from the greatest evangelistic university. I saw there was not two Billy Grahams, just one. There was not a public Billy Graham and a private Billy Graham. I remember complimenting him after a successful event in Portland, Ore., and he just shot back and said, “It’s just gospel.” He didn’t want people to sit around and praise him. I learned I’m not better than anybody. I’m just a delivery boy. I’m just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. I learned you’re there to do a job; you give the glory to God and move on.
▪ 5:30 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
▪ Admission is free, but parking is $10.
▪ Parking lots open at 1:30 p.m., doors open at 3:30 p.m. Seating is general admission.
▪ Musical performers include Chris Tomlin, Lecrae, Switchfoot and MercyMe.
▪ Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and Harvest Orange County in Riverside and Irvine, Calif.
▪ No bags or purses are allowed in the stadium