Behind the scenes of Harvest America 2017 in Phoenix on Sunday (June 11), a huge urban outreach partnership between the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Crossover Arizona and Greg Laurie’s Harvest America was a success story on many levels.
The two organizations joined forces to host a three-day evangelistic outreach in Phoenix that involved training, street evangelism and service projects before culminating in Harvest America’s Sunday night crusade, NAMB reported.
“God is faithful to glorify His name! 38,000 people came to #CrossoverArizona with Harvest America, and 42,305 people watched the live stream from 83 different countries,” stated NAMB. “But it gets better—2,904 stepped forward in the stadium and decided to follow Jesus and hundreds more committed online! All glory and thanksgiving to God as we anticipate what He will do next year in Dallas.”
NAMB also reported that another 494 indicated that they had made salvation decisions online.
Fifty Crossover volunteers gathered on Saturday (June 10) to fix up Arizona homes, Josie Bingham wrote in an article for NAMB. “They repaired plumbing, cleaned houses, painted walls and landscaped yards during the ‘Love in Action’ service project at several transitional houses owned by Dream City Church and its affiliate, Dream Center.
TogetherLA.net spoke with Joel Southerland, who is the Director of Evangelism with North American Mission Board, backstage at Harvest America on Sunday and was asked more about the partnership with Harvest.
“What we’re doing here is called Crossover and it happens every year around the Southern Baptist Convention,” Southerland told TLA. “We do an evangelistic effort around our annual meeting and have been doing so since the late 80s.’
He added, “We felt like this partnership would give us the biggest reach we’ve ever had for a Crossover event. Greg and his team met with us and it was great from the very beginning.”
More than 400 churches in the Phoenix area and Arizona area partnered to host and participate in Crossover Arizona and Harvest America. More than 5,000 volunteers signed up to be a part of the event from Arizona and from around the nation. “It’s a really Kingdom-minded effort between Southern Baptist Churches and even non-Southern Baptist Churches of similar theologies that are coming together and preaching the gospel,” Southerland said.
“For us it’s been a great experience of churches coming together,” he continued. “When we got together 16 months ago with the Phoenix leadership team and cast the vision, the leadership team from the very beginning was really excited about the ability to partner and have that unity around the city and have that unified vision of reaching as many people as we can with the gospel in the Phoenix area.”
Southerland said that NAMB has a “great network of churches,” including in the Phoenix area where the Southern Baptist churches are greatly respected. “Harvest and Greg Laurie have a great reputation in this area. So, I think that when we take our great network and the network and reputation of Harvest and Greg Laurie that already existed it was just easy to match. I don’t think unity was ever a problem from day one.”
When asked about the way urban outreach fits into the event, he said, “We have 32 focus cities all around the United States, all major cities, and Phoenix is one of those cities. We have a big church planting effort that goes on in all of those 32 cities. Doing it in an urban context fits right into our philosophy of ministry.”
What about non-Southern Baptist churches with perhaps a different theology?
“If your main goal is to reach people with the gospel we are willing to partner and see that happen,” Southerland said.