During a time when issues like youth violence, stratospheric unemployment rates, and a downward economy are on the minds of many Chicagoans, more than 200 area churches have joined together across racial and denominational lines to bring a message of hope to the city and its surrounding communities. After a year of planning, the churches will host Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, an area-wide evangelistic outreach featuring Southern California pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie, at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, Sept. 24 – 26, 2010.
According to a news release from Laura Swickard McGowan, the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest is the first large-scale outreach to visit the area in nearly 15 years, and will feature a nightly message from Laurie, as well as music from top recording artists David Crowder Band, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kirk Franklin, Skillet, Jeremy Camp, The Katinas and Heather Headley. A local gospel choir will also perform. All three nights of the Harvest outreach are free and open to the public.
“More than 200 local churches—from the Southside of Chicago to neighboring cities like Naperville, Crystal Lake, and Lake Forest—are working together in an unprecedented show of unity to bring the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest to the Chicagoland area,” said local organizer James MacDonald, Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows. “We are praying that lives will be changed and that our cities will be impacted by the message of hope in Christ that Greg Laurie will bring.”
The theme of “hope” will run throughout the three-night Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, culminating with a special Sunday evening program called, “An Evening of Hope,” where Laurie will team up with Grammy Award-winning musician Steven Curtis Chapman to address issues of sorrow and the hope we have in Christ in the midst of crisis. Both Chapman and Laurie lost children in automobile accidents in 2008, and share a common desire to offer encouragement to people who are suffering loss of any kind.
Founded in 1990, the Harvest with Greg Laurie events have drawn more than 4.1 million people to stadiums and arenas around the world, and are known for relating to audiences through contemporary means like top notch music, live Internet webcasts and hosted video podcasts. But, the crux of each event is the nightly message presented by Laurie.
Called the “evangelist of the future” by Billy Graham, Laurie draws on Scripture, flavored with personal and cultural examples, to describe the relevance of faith in today’s world. Laurie’s talks encompass topics that appeal to people of any age and answer questions like: Why am I here? Is God real? What happens when I die?
Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest Facts & Figures
|Dan Wooding with Greg Laurie after interview him for his Front Page Radio program|
Youth are playing a significant role in “getting the word out” about the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, and Harvest is making youth evangelism training available for local teens and young adults through a program called G3. G3 training is provided by the SWAT Team (Students with a Testimony)—a team of youth and pastoral staff from Greg Laurie’s church in Southern California. SWAT Team members pay their own way to cities where Harvest events are held to join with local G3 groups in sharing the life-transforming message of the Gospel with people on the streets and in various locations throughout Chicagoland.
A prayer gathering for the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest will take place on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m., and church organizers hope to encircle Allstate Arena with community members who are willing to come pray for the outreach. All are welcome.
More than 200 churches throughout the Chicagoland area are working together to host the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, and some 2,500 people are expected to volunteer at the three-night event—including 100 people coming from Laurie’s church in Riverside, Calif., who will pay their own way to Chicago to serve as volunteers.
Some 35,000 bumper stickers and 500,000 invitations to the Harvest outreach are being distributed locally. Some 6,000 Bibles will be available to distribute throughout the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest.
Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest Schedule of Events
All events will take place at Allstate Arena and are free and open to the public and all three evenings of the Harvest outreach are free of charge and will be broadcast live on the internet at www.harvest.org. Video podcasts and blog accounts of each message will also be available at http://blog.greglaurie.com/, and “behind the scenes” updates from Greg Laurie leading up to each Harvest event will also be available on Twitter at http://twitter.com/greglaurie or on Facebook.
With a trademark ability to present a straightforward gospel message in a culturally relevant format, drawing on the latest in current events, contemporary Christian music, and technology, Greg Laurie’s Harvest events have drawn more than 4.1 million people to stadiums and arenas around the world since 1990. Laurie also serves as senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in the U.S., and serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.
MEDIA NOTE: For more information about the Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, or to arrange an interview, contact Laura McGowan at (847) 328-8009 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (847) 328-8009 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or firstname.lastname@example.org, or access the Harvest Newsroom at www.newsroom.harvest.org.
Dan Wooding, ANS