Pastor Greg Laurie, perhaps best known for his large-scale evangelistic events called "Harvest Crusades" that originated in Southern California, recently announced that his Riverside-based church's second main campus in the Orange County city of Irvine will need to move to a new location because more space is needed.
Harvest Orange County, which started out as a weekly Bible study that moved to several locations within the county over the years before becoming a church plant in Irvine almost three years ago, now has a congregation of more than 2,000 people. Laurie regularly preaches Sunday services first at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside for the early morning services, and then commutes for a 30-minute or more drive to the Irvine location to then deliver his sermon for the 11:30 a.m. service.
Below is an interview with Laurie conducted by email with The Christian Post in which he discusses the Harvest Orange County church and a search for a new building.
CP: Please share a little about the history of the Harvest Orange County church.
Laurie: Since our beginning about three years ago, we have seen consistent growth, both spiritually and numerically.
I have been preaching in Orange County since 1990, off and on, but up until the launch of Harvest Orange County I did more of an evangelistic Bible study – an event for people from all churches to utilize. In fact the Harvest Crusades were launched from a Bible study I did for years at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
But this is different. Harvest Orange County started in my son Christopher's house in Huntington Beach. Steve Wiggins, one of our outstanding worship leaders, taught it each week. Christopher even did a couple of these Bible studies himself when Steve was not able to come. I attended a couple of times and the seed for Harvest Orange County as a church was beginning to take root.
When Christopher went to be with the Lord in 2008, many things were stirring in my heart. I felt this was the time to do this not as a Bible study only, but as a full-blown church – and that is exactly what Harvest OC has become.
In addition to our Sunday and Thursday services, which I teach, my wife Cathe teaches a study for women which is called Virtue, on Wednesdays in both the morning and evening. That study has registered 600 women.
We also have a midweek men's study taught by OC Campus Pastor Mike Jonker, which is attended by some 300 men. My son Jonathan is very involved in the men's study in addition to his regular responsibilities at the church during the week.
My daughter-in-law Brittany is very involved in helping Cathe with the Virtue studies. And my other daughter-in-law, Brittni, is also very involved, and so are both of their families.
It has become a home away from home for the Lauries!
There are other ministries and studies going on throughout the week as well.
CP: What type of structure are you looking for? I thought it interesting that you opened up the search to anyone in the congregation with leads or ideas.
Laurie: We want everyone to be very prayerful about this and also want to be good stewards and explore as many options as possible.
We need a building large enough to accommodate what we have, as well as what our growth might be in the next few years. Currently, we have around 30,000 square feet, but the problem is that our present building, along with the buildings around it, will be razed to make room for apartment buildings in the future. We have two years left on our lease.
We are running around 2,400 in attendance and will need a building with around 60,000 square feet.
CP: Tell me something about the fundraising aspect.
Laurie: It is our hope to raise the funds from within our congregation.
CP: Would you like to add anything?
Laurie: It has been an amazing thing to start a church in my late 50s. (I just turned 60.) When we started Harvest Riverside, I was 20 years old. Now, with 40 years of pastoring, hopefully I've learned a few things.
Frankly, the foundation for Harvest Orange County is the same as it was for Harvest Riverside all those years ago. We have an acronym for it: W.E.L.L. It is based on Acts 2:42-47.
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
W.E.L.L. stands for the following:
They were a worshipping church (verse 47).
They were an evangelistic church (verse 47).
They were a learning church (verse 42).
They were a loving church (verse 44).
We believe that God wants to do a mighty work in Orange County. Our prayer is that Harvest OC will be a part of that.
On the Web: http://www.harvest.org.