The Los Angeles Times interviewed CRCC’s Richard Flory for an article about the 27th annual Harvest Crusade and its founder Greg Laurie. Nearly 100,000 people are expected to attend the event (now named SoCal Harvest) at Angel Stadium to hear Laurie preach and Christian musicians play popular songs.
Evangelicals, Flory explains in the articles, are “really good at contextualizing what they do religiously within the larger culture. Greg Laurie, the type of music he has, the kinds of events he has, he does it to appeal to the people of today.”
An excerpt from the article:
The Harvest Crusade was modeled after evangelist Billy Graham’s crusades of the mid-20th century, which also married popular culture with an easy-to-understand religious message.
So instead of a traditional church choir, Laurie brought in popular Christian bands to lead the worship — “almost like what you would see on The Tonight Show,” he said — and he declined to weigh down his sermons with dense theological vocabulary.
USC’s Flory also pointed to exhibitions such as Motocross motorcycle racing, which was featured one year.
“To me, that was representative of a larger trend with evangelicals,” said Flory, who wrote about the Harvest Crusade in his book, Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation. “They’re really good at looking outside the church walls, understanding what’s going on in the culture, finding what appeals to people and sacralizing it and bringing it back to the church.”
Flory also commented on the lack of explicit political language in Laurie’s message, explaining that evangelicals turn to Jesus, not politics for answers to society’s ills. “But that’s a political statement in itself — a conservative, Republican-oriented statement,” he added.
The Press-Enterprise also quoted Flory in their preview story about the 2016 Harvest Crusade. The article posited that the event helped bolster membership at local megachurches. Flory pointed out that Bill Graham’s crusades partnered with not only evangelical churches, but also Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. The Harvest Crusade, however, mostly sends attendees to Calvary Chapel congregations, “which ensures that converts, or those who are coming back to Christianity, get channeled to evangelically oriented churches,” he said.
Photo Credit: James / Flickr