A down-to-earth evangelist is ready to dust off the cobwebs in front of an anticipated crowd of 18,000 people on Friday.
Kicking off his first evangelistic crusade of the year, California pastor Greg Laurie is bringing his renowned Harvest Crusade to the Triangle/Raleigh-Durham Area, N.C., where a full media campaign, which includes more than 400,000 printed invites, went into gear over the last 10 days leading up to the event.
More than a year in the making, Harvest 07 has joined more than 215 churches as local pastors felt the need to reach the unchurched of the Triangle. This is the first time in 13 years that the area has hosted a large-scale evangelistic outreach - the last of which was a Franklin Graham festival. Prior to that was a Billy Graham crusade in 1973.
Although Billy Graham crusades in Raleigh date back to 1951, large-scale evangelistic gatherings more than 50 years later are still popular in contemporary culture and still needed, according to Laurie, who models his events after the Graham crusades.
"No matter what happens in our world, there must always be a place for the verbal proclamation of the Gospel," he said. "Because God doesn't say it's through drama or music that people will believe. He said it's through the foolishness of the proclaiming of the Gospel that people will believe.
"God honors the verbal proclamation of the Gospel. Therefore, events where this takes place will never be outdated."
As far as music, films and other media forms go, they play more of a support role when it comes to people receiving Christ. And Laurie and the Harvest team have used those to their advantage.
Popular Christian artists always accompany Laurie at the Harvest Crusades and the evangelistic team has continued to pick up the latest technology, including podcasts and webcasts, to reach wider and even global audiences. Both the music and technology have proved to help draw more people to make decisions for Christ.
"The world is a smaller place because of technology," said Laurie.
This weekend's three-day Harvest will feature David Crowder Band, Andrae Crouch, Toby Mac, Leeland and Third Day and the entire event will be broadcasted live on the Web.
And the Gospel message that has been delivered through one "ordinary man" to more than 3.4 million people around the world since 1990 will ring out again this weekend.
"I'm just an ordinary person that God touched," Laurie commented.
Although Billy Graham, considered the most famous evangelist in the world, has called Laurie the "evangelist of the future," the California pastor believes he is one of many evangelists carrying the baton onto generations.
As for the next Billy Graham, Laurie said, "I don't think there will be any single person who will take the place of Billy Graham. His influence was too great. He was too singular of a figure in American history, even world history, to be replaced by someone else. The Lord could raise up someone else. But right now, I don't see it."
The first Harvest Crusade of the year will launch at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., June 22-24. Other cities lined up to host Harvest 2007 are Anaheim, Calif.; Central Valley, Calif.; New York City; and Wellington, New Zealand.