Over the five years since launching Harvest America, we have heard some amazing stories of how God has used this live-streamed event around the nation.
We've seen churches come together in community centers, shopping malls, theaters and cafes. We've seen churches use a local park and once in Detroit, a few industrious Christians just set up a screen and speakers on a street corner.
What have we learned? Wherever the gospel goes out, in whatever manner it goes out, and to whomever it goes, it goes with life-changing power.
One church, Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, Florida, paid for guest artist Francesca Battistelli to come and perform live before Greg Laurie gave the streamed message. They worked with 17 other churches to pray, invite and bring people to this event, where more than 2,000 people attended!
I think also of one young man in the Seattle area. He had received Christ at our crusade in Seattle in 2007. He had just become a Christian, but when he learned that he could bring a Harvest America livestream into his church, he went to work. The pastor gave him permission to use the facility, and he invited people to come. There were about 40 curious people who showed up, one of whom was his wife, who had never made a profession of faith. But that changed on that night as she was one of the first to respond during the invitation.
Large churches like Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas and Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago hosted Harvest America in their sanctuaries and saw hundreds respond to the gospel.
Bringing churches together through technology is not a new idea. Billy Graham pioneered the concept using satellite technology for audiences across Europe. That was over 20 years ago, and the expense was enormous at the time.
Now, however, the internet provides an opportunity for any church or individual to stream the event with high-definition quality through a private "pipeline" that emanates from the Harvest America homepage. The exclusive signal all but guarantees a glitch-free delivery of the music and message. And the best part about it? It's free, just like the gospel.
At Harvest America, we view our relationship with host sites as a partnership. We will deliver the music and the message in a compelling fashion, but it's up to every host site to prepare for that day with prayer and with promotion to their respective communities. We encourage each site to provide a host or facilitator to welcome and greet those that come and to ensure a follow-up process is in place for those that make a decision to follow Christ.
There is something catalytic and unifying to know that on one particular day of the year, Christians bring their friends to gather across the nation and hear a message of the gospel from Greg Laurie. Every year, thousands of people come to know Christ. I can't think of a better or more effective way of proclaiming God's grace than this.
This year, Greg Laurie will be joined by special musical guests Phil Wickham, Switchfoot, Crowder and Chris Tomlin. During the evening, we will pay tribute to Billy Graham, and for the legacy he left us of proclaiming the gospel in bold and innovative ways. The Scripture reminds us that it's through "the foolishness of the message preached that God has chosen to save those who would believe."
Our prayer is that thousands will begin to prepare their churches or their neighborhoods for this year's Harvest America on June 10, live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
John Collins is executive pastor for Harvest Christian fellowship and the executive director for the Harvest Crusades. On staff with Harvest since 1985, Pastor John has gone on to direct crusades and outreaches across the U.S., Australia and New Zealand that have attracted more than 8.8 million people.
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