1990 marked the launch of the Harvest Crusades which has seen more than 5,142,000 people in attendance in multiple countries across the globe. But more importantly has witnessed to some 435,700 professions of faith in Jesus Christ. This last week we saw over 20,000 people show up to the American Airline Center in Dallas Texas as the gospel went out across the globe once again through Harvest America to over 40 different countries. Needless to say, God is saving people… and He is using Harvest Crusades as one of the means to do so, to which we say, to God be the Glory.
Addressing the Peripheral
Despite our rejoicing of the great and marvelous things that God continues to do through Harvest Crusades, and my own heart’s personal revival when I saw hundreds of people walk down to the ground floor and confess Jesus as Lord this past weekend, I ran into a man who felt it his duty to tell me that what we were doing was “not of God”. As I proceeded to address this man’s concerns, along with pointing him to the plum line of our cause, which is to preach Christ and Him crucified, I began to recall all the statements I have heard over the years concerning the Harvest Crusades and its methods. I decided it might be helpful to address the 4 top concerns I have heard over the past 7 years of attending Harvest Crusades with biblical and logical answers of why we believe God has called us to such a mission as this.
“You use bands and music to draw people to come and hear the Gospel, Jesus never had to do that.”
True, Jesus never pulled out an electric guitar and performed the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United to draw people to the hill side. Why? Because He didn’t have too. In addition to the astonishing truths that Jesus was teaching, people also came out to see miracles, to be healed, to be fed, and to see signs and wonders which made people flock to him (Matthew 4:24-25). Many people went with the sole intention to be physically entertained and healed. But they received much more than that, they received eternal joy and spiritual healing. Some were disappointed and left, but others stayed and fed off the words of eternal life (John 6). Just because Jesus didn’t teach at Angel’s Stadium or use things such as contemporary music like the Harvest Crusade features, does not mean that what we do is un-biblical. The prime example of the church interacting with the culture would be the Apostle Paul preaching in the Arepagus in Athens. He used the surrounding social structures and the arts to appeal to the men in the city. He taught the truth of Jesus Christ while using the culture as the bridge to engage their world (Acts 17). Paul observed their object of worship and addressed their openness to an “Unknown god” that he went on to describe as the only true God. Paul used lyrics from a secular poem titled “Phainomena” to engage and direct the men’s attention upward towards heaven to the real creator of their souls. Paul became all things to all men in order that some might be saved (1 Cor. 9). And in like manner we too use alternative Christian bands to help bridge the gap between the perishing and the eternal.
“The full gospel isn’t preached.”
This type of comment comes from someone who usually has never heard Pastor Greg preach and couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The gospel message is the crux of the entire night, the pinnacle to the entire story. Therefore we boldly proclaim the message of the cross at every Harvest Crusade knowing it is the power of God to us who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Gospel: Jesus Christ who is both fully man and fully God came and lived a sinless life, died on a cross to pay for our sins. “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). He then substituted perfection for imperfection, so that if any man believes in Him he might have the hope of heaven. Jesus then rose from the grave displaying His power over death and sin. Pastor Greg sums up the call to repentance like this: Realize you’re a sinner and in need of a savior (Romans 3:23), recognize and acknowledge Jesus as the only savior and Lord, and repent of your sin. (Acts 17:30, Romans 10:9-10). But don’t take my word for it, look at the webcasts for yourself and you will see nothing short of clear and concise gospel preaching.
“There is no discipleship or accountability for all those who confess Jesus as Lord.”
My answer to this question has always been the same, “you really have no idea what you’re talking about”. Harvest Crusade Ministries works all year long to get churches to participate in the crusade events, and it’s not for financial backing. It’s to prepare local church members to come alongside new believers who will be heading to their church the following Sunday morning. We train hundreds of willing believers to come alongside and disciple those who make professions of faith. We then get all the information of those who respond to the invitation to contact them along with sending out a copy to the church that is closest to their place of residence so that they can contact them as well. We give every new believer a N.T. Bible so that they can begin studying the scriptures for themselves. I believe it is safe to say we do all we can to provide an environment for these new Christians to thrive, it is just now up to them pursue Jesus.
“This event gives people a false sense of peace and salvation.”
I’m not sure where the false sense of peace is coming from after Pastor Greg explains that we have sinned and separated ourselves from God, and if we do not believe and repent in the name of Jesus then we will go to hell and be eternally separated from all that is good. Here is the truth of the matter: if the gospel is faithfully preached, then there can be no false sense of peace or salvation given. You are either changed forever, or not. Now, we understand that many people come down on the field during the alter call for a variety of reasons. Some to touch the grass of angel stadium, some to accompany their friend or family member, and some because they are all amped up on emotion. But this truth does not change the fact that many come down because the Spirit of God convicted their hearts, and they are making a stand for Christ marking the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of loving Jesus. Some have said that the false sense of salvation comes when these people walk off the field. Arguing that there is no exhortation to change your life. This argument does not hold water with me, because the very act of genuine repentance and belief in Jesus does not allow a man or woman to continue on in the old life.
The Bottom Line
Personally, I love criticism, because it causes me to take a step back and evaluate what I am doing or what I am taking part in. And in this case I examine the Harvest Crusade and its core vision and can’t help praise God for the work He is doing with and through Harvest Ministries.
So to sum it all up, “God is great, but haters gonna hate.”In Him, Ryan McGinnis