RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Please see a slightly revised statement made below, with an additional paragraph:
Greg Laurie, founding pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, has announced that Harvest Christian Fellowship will join the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus told his disciples to take the good news of the gospel to the entire world. 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.
“On June 12, I announced that Harvest Christian Fellowship would be joining the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). 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.”
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 in Anaheim at Angel Stadium. His next book “Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon” releases June 13.