HARVEST CRUSADE TO COMBINE GOSPEL, GENERATION X STYLE.
At this month's annual Harvest Crusade, thousands are expected to attend a Generation X-style crusade - which will combine a message about God with high-volume contemporary music.
The Christian crusade travels each year to six U.S. cities and will take place in Los Angeles at the Universal Amphitheatre on Nov. 17-20.
Harvest Crusade, which has drawn more than 1.6 million people since its beginnings in 1990, has become one of the highest-energy tributes to fundamentalist Christianity since the revivals of Billy Graham in the 1950s.
Greg Laurie of San Clemente is the leader of the new-generation evangelism.
He's the pastor of Riverside's Harvest Christian Fellowship which he founded in 1973 and the author of six books including the national best seller among Christian readers, ``Life, Any Questions?''
The impetus for the Harvest Crusade actually came from another clergyman, though. Laurie credits Chuck Smith, pastor at Costa Mesa's Calvary Chapel, for the inception of the crusades. Smith asked Laurie to take over a Bible study class that attracted several hundred students in just a few months.
With the gathering filled to capacity, the two men took a chance and rented out the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa where 90,000 people showed up over several nights to learn about the Gospel. The first Harvest Crusade was born.
At this year's crusade, tens of thousands of mostly baby boomers and Generation Xers will encounter high-energy, high-volume music performed live in a nonreligious setting in a prelude to Laurie's teaching.
Though the crusades are accentuated with performances by popular contemporary Christian musicians like Lou Gramm (lead vocalist of Foreigner), Crystal Lewis and The Kry, Laurie says the purpose is to give people an opportunity to have a personal relationship with Christ and to present his teachings.
According to Harvest Ministries, Harvest Crusades Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that is not controlled by or affiliated with any individual church or denomination. Instead, the crusades are supported financially by hundreds of churches and businesses as well as by individual donations and fund-raisers.
Laurie waives any royalties from books sold at the events. His salary is paid by the church where he has served as pastor for 23 years.
``Young people today are looking for a challenge,'' Laurie said. ``They want someone to give it to them straight, and that's what we try to do.''
Laurie is known in religious circles as an energetic and straightforward preacher.
``The media have been writing Greg Laurie up as the man who is going to be the evangelist of the future - and he is,'' said evangelist Billy Graham at his own Atlanta Crusade in 1994.
In his sermons, Laurie often quotes disillusioned Hollywood celebrities to underscore the fact that neither money nor fame can buy happiness.
``You can try everything, you can obtain everything, but you will still come up empty, because God has made you with a void in your life that only he can fill,'' said Laurie.
Admission is free, but parking is $6. The crusade will begin at 7:30 p.m., but the gates will open an hour before the start of the event. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.