PHOENIX (BP) -- Just one day after seeing nearly 3,400 come to Christ at a Harvest America crusade in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention 2017 annual meeting, megachurch pastor Greg Laurie announced his official cooperation with the SBC.
Laurie, founding pastor of the 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship based in Riverside, Calif., concurrently announced plans to hold one of his Harvest Crusades in advance of the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
Cooperating with the SBC "does not change our theology, philosophy of ministry or our history," Laurie said in a June 13 press release. "It merely extends the reach of our fellowship within the Christian world at a time when the vision and mission of Harvest remains -- as it has been for 42 years -- focused on the teaching of God's Word and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
As a cooperating church, Harvest Christian Fellowship will maintain autonomy while gaining the opportunity to support Southern Baptist work, ministry and missions at the local, national and international levels. The church also gains the opportunity to hold appointments to SBC committees and boards, election to SBC posts and tuition discounts at SBC seminaries.
The benefits of cooperation are listed online at sbc.net.
Cooperating with the SBC will advance Laurie's pursuit of the next great awakening, he said.
"We've chosen to partner in total, unrelenting pursuit of our nation's next great awakening," Laurie said. "I believe that the time is right to reach across the church and to lock hands in total support of the rapid advance of the Gospel in our nation and in our world. I believe this decision is a powerful step in that direction.
"I appreciate the SBC's focus on evangelism as well as their outreach in missions and relief ministries that touch our world every day in a significant way."
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines is among SBC leaders who have commended Laurie's Harvest America crusades at harvestamerica.com.
"Greg Laurie has been serving the Lord evangelistically since the early 1970s, when God changed his life during the Jesus Movement in Southern California," Gaines said in a statement at harvestamerica.com. "God has gifted Greg to give a clear, passionate, biblical presentation of the Gospel. God uses him to call people to faith in Christ."
The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board co-hosted with Laurie an evangelistic crusade June 11 at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale that attracted 38,000 attendees. Of those, nearly 3,000 accepted Christ in addition to 494 who made salvation decisions online. The event culminated the Crossover Phoenix door-to-door evangelistic outreach led by NAMB and widely supported by Southern Baptists attending the annual meeting, especially Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students and alumni, who knocked on thousands of doors in the Phoenix area in the week leading up to the crusade.
At the SBC 2017 annual meeting continuing through today (June 14), Laurie participated in a panel discussion during the NAMB SEND Luncheon and taught a Bible study on evangelism during a June 13 evening session.
More than 7.7 million people have accepted Christ during Harvest Crusades since Laurie launched the outreach in 1990, according to his ministry's website. In 2012, Laurie launched Harvest America, a nationwide event simulcast to thousands of locations nationally.
Harvest Christian Fellowship, which also has a campus in Hawaii, will maintain its fellowship with the Calvary Chapel family of churches, Laurie said.