(Photo: Harvest Ministries)
Pastor Greg Laurie recently met with local church pastors in Dallas whose congregations will be participating in Harvest America at the American Airlines Center on Oct 5.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Laurie spoke about why he has a renewed fervor for sharing the Gospel, how Christians can engage nonbelievers and talk to them about Jesus Christ, and why he believes Christians must focus more on prayer and preaching instead of boycotting and complaining.
The following is an edited transcript from that interview.
CP: Some Christians are passionate about sharing the Gospel with nonbelievers while others feel that they wouldn't be effective so they rarely try to talk to people about Jesus Christ. For those who want to share the Gospel but are unsure of themselves, how should they start that conversation?
Laurie: You might be surprised to know that it's far easier for me to stand behind a pulpit and preach in a stadium to a lot of people than it is for me to go up to a person individually, especially a stranger, and engage them in conversation. But, what I would say is keep a couple things in mind: No. 1, everyone's favorite subject is themselves. So if you talk to a person and ask them a little bit about themselves and what their thoughts are on different topics – people love to talk, they love to opine. And then after you begin to establish that rapport with them, then you can begin to tell them a little bit about yourself and what you believe.
And one of the most effective tools is our personal testimony. You don't have to have to be a scholar to give your personal testimony. And your personal testimony is simply your story of how you came to faith in Jesus Christ. Now, granted some testimonies are more dramatic than others, but everyone is valid. Everyone's testimony could be a simple statement: 'Once I was blind, but now I see.' Like that man who was touched by Jesus in scripture. So tell your story, and then use that as a bridge to His story – and I'm speaking of the greatest story ever told, the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
CP: At the Harvest America event in Philadelphia last year and during your announcement speech at the American Airlines Center in Dallas this week, you emphasized that the Church has two secret weapons that Christians need to start using more often, and those are preaching and praying, opposed to focusing on infighting, boycotting and complaining. Will you talk more about that?
Laurie: I think that we're in a spiritual battle, and in many ways, the Church is under siege today. We have the most biblically-illiterate generation in America that we have ever seen. So there's good news and bad news. The good news is: we have opportunity; the bad news is: people know absolutely nothing. So we want to take advantage of that and share the truth with them, and we have two secret weapons in the church that are rarely used. And the secret weapons are not registering and voting, or boycotting and protesting, the secret weapons are praying and preaching.
First, we need to pray for our country. The only hope for this nation to have a turn-around is not necessarily to have a change in the White House, but to have a change in God's house. There needs to be a revival. And revival starts with God's people. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, 'if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'
So it starts with us turning back to God, and being revived and restored to where we ought to be as fervent, faithful followers of Christ. So praying for our country, and then praying for lost people, and specifically praying for them by name.
Before I share the Gospel with someone, I always pray that God will open their heart.
Then there's preaching. And preaching doesn't mean that you have to yell. Preaching is just proclaiming, it's just giving the message of the Gospel, to engage a person with that message.
The apostle Paul tells us that there is explosive power in the simple message of the Gospel. He said: 'I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,' (Romans 1:16-17).
Paul is saying that there is explosive power built in to the essential message of the Gospel. So what is the Gospel? It's the message that we are sinners, but despite our sin, God loved us so much He sent His son to die for us and absorb the wrath of God in our place, and then to rise three days later. And if we'll turn from our sin and ask Christ to come into our life we can be forgiven. So those are our secret weapons, and we need to use them a lot more.
CP: At the Harvest America announcement event in Dallas this week, you spoke about the death of your oldest son, Christopher, and shared that since his passing, you feel that you have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven. And you spoke about how during these last five years you have a renewed fervor for the Gospel and for evangelism. Would you elaborate on that?
Laurie: When you have a loved one in heaven – and my mother and my father who adopted me are there –but when a child precedes a parent, it's far different. And it changes your life. We miss him terribly and we look forward to the day when we'll be reunited with him in heaven. But it just gives me a greater desire to proclaim the Gospel and reach more people, because even if we have a long life, life on earth just comes and goes so quickly – the Bible describes it as a story that's already been told. And, therefore, I have an urgency because there are some who will not live a long life, their life might be much shorter than expected.
We want to comfort with the comfort that we've been comforted with, as the scripture reminds us. And we don't want to waste our pain, but we're also reminded that we just don't know when life will end, and I want to reach as many people as I can, while I can, with the message of the Gospel.
Pastor Greg Laurie released a new book this month, As It is In Heaven: How Eternity Brings Focus to What Really Matters that not only answers questions people have about heaven, but was also written to inspire Christians to "think about how Heaven makes a difference for our life on earth – right here, right now."