"If there's one thing that Christians and non-Christians have in common, it's this: we're both uptight about evangelism," said evangelist Greg Laurie.
In the weeks leading up to the annual Harvest Crusade in Southern California, Laurie is prepping his mega-congregation on the what, why, and how of evangelism.
He lamented on Sunday that few churches promote the idea of proclamation evangelism on a regular basis and that many Christians are not sharing their faith, largely because they're afraid of failure – whether it's losing their friends or not knowing the answer to a question.
Moreover, the cultural divide between Christians and nonbelievers is huge, he noted.
"Far too often we don't know how to cross over [to our culture]. Far too many Christians today are unnecessarily offensive, hopelessly lame, and generally inept at communicating," he said at the launch of his new "Crossover" sermon series at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.
"We're just no good at evangelism," he said plainly.
Over the past 20 years, Laurie has reached 4 million people in person with the Gospel at his renowned Harvest Crusades. He's hoping everyone at his megachurch will join him this year to help bring in more people to the family of God. Evangelism, he noted, is not just for the "professionals."
"I want to help you learn how to effectively share your faith," the pastor, known for his down-to-earth talk about heaven, told congregants over the weekend. "God want to use you to bring other people into His kingdom."
To not share the Gospel is criminal, Laurie stated bluntly. To not bring the Gospel message to others can even be a sin – a sin of omission.
It would be like finding the cure for cancer but not sharing it with others, he illustrated.
"We have something even more significant than a cure for cancer. We have the cure to sin, and guilt and the cure for hell and the hope for heaven," he explained. "How much more urgently do we need to get this message out?
"How can I be passive about sharing my faith? How can I say I'm too busy to do that?"
The reality is, he noted, people who don't know Jesus will go to hell and spend eternity separated from God.
But he quickly added that God doesn't send people to hell. Rather, "God gives to us a free will and we have the ability to choose."
While challenging Christians to have a burden for the lost and to share their faith, Laurie admitted that it's not all that easy for him to go up to a stranger and talk about Jesus. It's easier to stand behind a pulpit, even at a large stadium in front of thousands, and talk about Jesus, he said.
But he reminded the Harvest congregation, "The observers are many, the critics are many, the so-called experts are many but the laborers are few."
"Everybody needs Jesus," he emphasized. "Everybody. We need to cross over and reach them."
And believers need to also make sure they bring the cross over, Laurie added.
"It's fine to try to be cool, it's fine to try to relate ... but the ultimate thing we need to tell them is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loved them so much that He died on a cross for their sins and rose again from the dead and if they will turn from their sins and put their faith in Him, they can be forgiven. This is called the Gospel."
The 21st Southern California Harvest Crusade returns to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Aug. 6-8. The free evangelistic event will feature such Christian artists as the David Crowder Band, Phil Wickham, Sanctus Real, OC Supertones, Revive, Steven Curtis Chapman, MercyMe and The Katinas.