Both will, however, continue their fellowship with the Calvary Chapel family of churches
By Dan Wooding, Special to ASSIST News Service
RIVERSIDE, CA (ANS – June 13, 2017) — Greg Laurie, founding pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, announced on Monday, June 12, 2017, that Harvest Christian Fellowship will join the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
“Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus told his disciples to take the good news of the gospel to the entire world,” said Laurie. “I believe we are the first generation that can actually accomplish that task. Because of today’s technology, we have more opportunities for global evangelism that any generation before us and to accomplish this we must renew our emphasis on evangelism as never before.
“Most importantly, we must unify our efforts. We must learn to walk in common purpose and common vision. I believe the need is urgent and the time is now.”
For those who were concerned that Laurie was leaving the Calvary Chapel movement, in which he became a believer and has been associated with for many years, he explained, “Harvest is an independent congregation that will continue fellowship with the Calvary Chapel family of churches as well, and this decision does not change our theology, philosophy of ministry or our history. It merely extends the reach of our fellowship within the Christian world at a time when the vision and mission of Harvest remains — as it has been for 42 years — focused on the teaching of God’s word and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Long ago, I came to realize I am called by God to simply do two primary things: to teach God’s word and to preach the gospel. This is the calling of the Lord on my life. Other than my personal walk with the Lord, and loving my wife and family, this is my only focus. My passion is to reach as many people as possible with the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until my final breath. One of the reasons why we proclaimed 2017 ‘The Year of Good News’ is because I intend on even further amplifying my focus on gospel proclamation.
“It’s also why Harvest Crusades, with the assistance of the Southern Baptist Convention, organized the Harvest America 2017 crusade on June 11 at the University of Phoenix stadium. It’s why we’ll do it all again next year in Dallas on June 10, 2018.
“We need a national revival as much as at any time in our nation’s history. We must pray for it, work toward it and do everything possible to prepare the ground for it. We must preach and pray until it comes. This is why we’ve chosen to extend a hand of fellowship to the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest protestant denomination of churches. We’ve chosen to partner in total, unrelenting pursuit of our nation’s next great awakening.
“I know the effect of the revival we seek firsthand because I came to Christ during the last great American revival, often referred to as the ‘Jesus Movement.’ That revival emanated primarily from Calvary Chapel in Southern California, and I learned to preach the Gospel and to teach God’s word myself within the Calvary Chapel movement under the example of Pastor Chuck Smith.
“Since that time, I’ve invested my life in the Calvary fellowship of churches while working with countless Christians from nearly every other denomination. I’ll continue to do just that, and I also look forward to continuing to build bridges between our communities. It has also been my privilege to be friends with Evangelist Billy Graham (himself a Southern Baptist) for many years, and from him I learned how to preach the Gospel.
“I believe that the time is right to reach across the church and to lock hands in total support of the rapid advance of the Gospel in our nation and in our world. I believe this decision is a powerful step in that direction. I appreciate the SBC’s focus on evangelism as well as their outreach in missions and relief ministries that touch our world every day in a significant way.
“I look forward to partnering with them and all believers who have a passion for evangelism. The need in our country and the world is so great.”
His friendship in tragedy with Rick Warren
Greg Laurie now joins Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, which also has several satellite locations, who is also a Southern Baptist minister.
Their friendship blossomed after Rick and Kay Warren’s youngest son, Matthew Warren, 27, killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Mission Viejo, California, in April 2013, “in a momentary wave of despair” at the end of a lifetime struggle “with mental illness, dark holes of depression and even suicidal thoughts,” the Rick Warren wrote to the staff of his Southern California megachurch.
Shortly after hearing of the tragedy, Laurie contacted Warren and offered to preach at his church, which he did a little after two weeks after Matthew’s death.
He explained that he had called Rick Warren because he, too, had lost a son — 33-year-old Christopher Laurie — who died in a traffic accident on the 91 Freeway on his way to his father’s church.
Laurie explained, “I shared some thoughts with Rick and we had prayer together. I believe that Rick and Kay will see their son, Matthew, again in heaven because Matthew put his faith in Christ. He had his struggles. We all know about that, but as Pastor Rick has said himself, heaven is not for perfect people it is for forgiven people. Isn’t that good news? Because I’m not perfect, are you?”
He added, “To lose a child is one of the hardest things that can happen to a person. On July 24, 2008 my son left this earth and went into the presence of God. It was the hardest day of my life. It really is a fate worse than death. Any parent would gladly trade places with their child and go and die.”
About Greg Laurie:
Pastor Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America; is the author of more than 70 books; hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast, “A New Beginning,” and GregLaurie.tv, which airs on TBN; and is the founder of Harvest Crusades, a large-scale evangelistic ministry whose next event, SoCal Harvest 2017, will be held Aug. 18-20, 2017, in Anaheim at Angel Stadium. His latest book “Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon” was released today (June 13, 2017).
Website www.Harvest.org and Twitter | @greglaurie
Media contact: The KAIROS Company for Harvest Christian Fellowship, MediaInquiries@theKcompany.co.
Photo captions: 1) Greg Laurie preaching in Anaheim. 2) Chuck Smith with Greg Laurie. 3) Two Southern Baptists together – Billy Graham and Greg Laurie. 4) Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith and Rick Warren at Angel Stadium, Anaheim. 5) Greg Laurie with his late son, Christopher. 6) Rick Warren (right) with his son, Matthew. 7) Dan Wooding interviewing Greg Laurie at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California, as his ANS colleague, Mark Ellis, looks on.(Photo: Alex Murashko).
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He has written some 45 books, and has one radio show and two television programs all based in Southern California. While still living in London, Dan worked as a senior reporter for two of the UK’s top circulation newspapers, the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror, and also did radio interviews for the BBC.
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