Greg Laurie on SoCal Harvest, why he's optimistic about Gen Z: 'We need a spiritual solution'

SoCal Harvest, Anaheim, California, August 23, 2019.
SoCal Harvest, Anaheim, California, August 23, 2019. | Harvest/Vitaly Manzuk

Greg Laurie, founder and lead pastor of Harvest Churches and Harvest Crusades, is excited about Generation Z.

Though they’re dubbed the first truly “post-Christian generation,” with moral relativism behind the majority opinion of the group, Laurie believes Gen Zers are defined by their desire for significance and meaning — making them ripe for the Gospel. 

“We have a generation that hasn’t heard the Gospel. Most of Gen Z doesn’t come from any kind of a spiritual or religious background whatsoever. I would rather have a blank slate to work with, where they know nothing, and then tell them the truth than people with all kinds of prejudices,” the 68-year-old pastor told The Christian Post. 

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“The Bible says, ‘How will they hear unless someone tells them?’ Young people are looking for significance. They want their life to matter. They want to be noticed. And what I'm saying to them is, ‘Your life does matter, you are noticed, God loves you, and God has a special plan for your life.’ I want to tell them how they can discover that plan for this life and the afterlife.”

With the goal of reaching thousands with the hope of Christ, Laurie’s Southern California Harvest Crusade will return to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, for one night only on Oct. 3.

The ministry’s first stadium outreach event in over a year, SoCal Harvest is free and will feature worship by Christian music artists Phil Wickham and for King & Country, as well as a message from Laurie. 

The pastor described the event as a "celebration," defined by "joy, worship and a powerful message."

“It means a lot to everybody to just get together again,” Laurie said. “With this pandemic, all the wrong things are up. Drug use is, up alcohol use is, up self-harm is up, suicides are up, divorce is up, and it's because people feel down. And Jesus said, ‘Look up, because your redemption is drawing near.’ I think it's important for us to get together in person because we're better together.”

Laurie, along with Chuck Smith, pastor and founder of Calvary Chapel, founded SoCal Harvest in 1990, making the event the longest-running evangelistic outreach event in the U.S. Over the decades, SoCal Harvest has seen thousands of young people embrace Christianity — a phenomenon Laurie hopes happens again this year.

“We're going to be together in one place at one time, worshiping the Lord, and then proclaiming the Gospel,” he said. “It’s just so exciting to see thousands of people go down on the field and make a profession of faith to follow Christ. God willing, we're going to see that this Sunday night.”

The pastor is encouraging young people to bring their non-Christian friends to SoCal Harvest, stressing it's a "different kind of event than just bringing someone to a church."

"It's great to take people to church, but you always have that fear — what if this is the Sunday the pastor preaches on tithing? This event is designed from beginning to end, for a non-believer. We're trying to anticipate their questions and answer them. I'm speaking in a very understandable way, not assuming they know what the logical terms mean."

Due to the pandemic, the in-person event was replaced last year by “A Rush of Hope,” a cinematic crusade that reached over 4 million people and yielded over 50,000 professions of faith. And though Laurie’s message hasn’t changed since the '90s, SoCal Harvest will this year employ cutting-edge technology to further the Gospel. 

“We're bringing some cinematic elements into the live event,” Laurie shared. “We have more screens, we have more tech, we have more everything. It’s not to put on a show, but to enhance the experience and make it more immersive and actually draw the audience in closer to what we're saying.” 

During the event, Laurie revealed he will share footage from “Jesus Revolution,” the forthcoming Erwin Brothers film that highlights the spiritual awakening in Southern California in the early 1970s known as the Jesus movement. 

“It’s an amazing thing to think that the last great spiritual awakening in America happened right here in California, and I would love to see another one,” Laurie said. “We're just praying that this could be a spark that could set something much larger into motion. Only the Lord can bring that about, but with God, all things are possible.”

“God wants to send a spiritual awakening to America,” he added. “And we know we're really needing one right now. I think it's pretty clear at this point that this is not something that will be solved with a political solution, or a technological solution or a mere moral solution. We need a spiritual solution, and only God can bring that about.”

Click here to stay up to date on the latest information about SoCal Harvest. A livestream option will be available for those who are not comfortable or able to attend in-person. For those who attend in-person, the event will follow protocols employed by Angel Stadium.

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