The OCeeker: Harvest Orange County and Greg Laurie's Plan for World Domination

HarvestOC.jpg
Greg Laurie wants more market share. 

The 59-year-old Christian pastor and evangelist--famous for being a disciple of Chuck Smith, leading the annual Harvest Crusade at Angel Stadium of blah, blah, blah--is pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, a megachurch in Riverside and one of the largest in the country. But his roots run deep in Orange County, where he lives, and he attended Newport Harbor High School. He has preached locally for more than 20 years, including more than a year and a half recently at Free Chapel in Irvine.

Now, shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, the OC Seeker says, Laurie has set up shop in Irvine, no doubt building the kingdom of God and stealing sheep from other preachers in the process. 


Laurie founded the fellowship at 2727 Campus Drive, touted as a Harvest "campus", with the plan to preach there regularly, while also continuing his sermon duties in Riverside, through the magic of a high-definition video feed that would allow him to speak in Riverside on Sundays, then speed to OC for another morning service that would be broadcast back to Harvest in Riverside. The church also has its own campus pastor and staff. 

Confused? So is the OCeeker. Why God needs Greg to plant a church that will basically be populated by sheeple from other steeples remains a mystery. But His ways are not the OCeeker's ways.

What's clear: Greg is one smart sermonator for working an angle to get his ass out of the IE.  

March 8, 7 p.m.

Damn, where do all you people come from? The OCeeker arrived about 15 minutes after the service started, and practically had to park at Harvest Riverside. Thankfully, little signs on the sidewalk off Campus Drive and Teller Avenue directed his cigar-smoking ass to the parking lots, which were packed. In another display of America's war on Christianity, there was one sign in the industrial/office complex that said "No Harvest Parking". 

LatinaModel.jpg
Amenarooski!
​The OCeeker strolled for about five hours toward the sanctuary, his hike temporarily blessed by the booty of a holy heina who sported tight jeans and a pair of heels that showed off her well-manicured and delicate toes. Single saints: Harvest OC is the spot for church-hopping hotties. Get some! 

Outside the plain industrial building, believers milled about under large signs advertising Harvest. A table carried merch for the house band of the night, The Afters. And, Mexican food was served up at a nearby grill. The OCeeker asked if the grub was free. It wasn't.

Inside, The Afters were already firing up the large crowd with some Jesus-is-my-boyfriend music, while a handful of parents stayed with the small children in the lobby, where they could catch Greg on a TV screen. They've got this live streaming thing down! 

The OCeeker headed directly for the sanctuary, where ushers "Dick" and "Dave" manned the doors rather politely. It would be cool if Harvest OC dropped Dick and Dave for the Dave and Deke Combo. Boy howdy, would the OCeeker love him some "Henpecked Peckerwood" before the service got going.

Again, where do all you people come from? There were easily more than a thousand people there, perhaps millions more, and the OCeeker had to take a spot in the back of the packed sanctuary. 

The Afters, whose members look like "American Idol" contestants and whose songs sounded like, hell if I know, pick whatever's playing on KFSH-FM 95.9 right now, were already in the midst of a jam. One of their lyrics said "greater things are to be done in this city." 

Thumbnail image for agran-blog.jpg
Give your soul to God, but Irvine is mine
​Not if Larry Agran has anything to do with it! 

The congregation, a mixed multitude of races and ages, stood during two songs, some lifting their hands to heaven, or the brown ceiling which spread itself over tan and blue walls in a sanctuary lit warmly by lights the hung from above. Two camera operators filmed the proceedings from the middle of the room, where a large soundboard stood. A couple of large screens showed the song lyrics. 

When the band finished its brief set, the crowd went bonkers for Jesus. Or Greg Laurie. He immediately hit the stage.

My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Hey Josh -- call up Harvest and ask to interview Laurie about his collection of wristwatches.  Like Jesus said, there will always be poor people; so, buy yourself some fancy watches before time's up.

DrueMitchell
DrueMitchell

Wow, I thought you were gonna just go around and bash the hell out of every church in OC with the new column. Really great article, as a Christian myself, its awesome to see these events through your eyes. I knew you guys were cool, espically you Gustavo! So CHEERS, and I'll flip you one of my cigars when you come to my church, cus I know you'll be through eventually :-D

p.s. 1 out of 4 is not bad at all,....praying for 2 for you homie.

Waldo Butterman
Waldo Butterman

Laurie is just doing what any good corporation does - expanding his market territory.  

A gradual increase of income over time is essential to the growth of any business, and trust me, this 'church' IS a business.  

Check out the store and terms of use on the Harvest.org website.  Pushing books and other paraphernalia by Laurie at astonishingly high prices.  

The egocentric nature of these books is a bit distressing. Laurie comes off in much the same way as a cult leader, with endless L Ron Hubbard-like personal manifestos and tomes of self aggrandizement designed to elevate him to some supernatural level.  No matter, if the flock of this church wants to buy this stuff, and apparently they do, I say let them.  I wouldn't want to send the authorities in to check on this guy and his practices - we don't want another Jonestown!

The terms of use for the web site are identical to  any other for profit corporation.  Only difference?  HarvestCorp pays NO income or corporate tax.

Crystal Evans
Crystal Evans

I was not surprized by the article. It could be about a million churches in OC.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

This is a positive review -- what the hell is wrong with you Xians?

iuseocweeklytowashmycar
iuseocweeklytowashmycar

josh my boy, why the mocking? did you really think christians would get offended and click on your story?  the gospel is a seed that is thrown to the world and some of them land on ground that wont bear fruit. by your tone, its obvious you are in that category so we arent mad at you.  we just feel sorry that your life is so miserable that you would mock christians who did nothing to offend you.  

Kcollege823
Kcollege823

Was it really necessary to bash Greg Laurie for starting another church? I really don't feel that he's stealing from other pastors or churches. There are a ton of churches falling apart right now so I'm sure many people feel this is a safe place to go and are thankful for it. And since does oc weekly have a church critic?

Don L.
Don L.

I wish for once the tone of an OC Weekly post wasn't so sophomoric, but still this article touches on an issue that every middle class church-goer refuses to confront. That pastors start churches in well-to-do areas of orange county because that's where they can make the most money.

If any of these churches claims to have a heart for the poor, they would have built a church in Santa Ana or West Anaheim to, not only reach out to those communities that need assistance, but also have their members move there to help transform those neighborhoods in trouble. But, I'm not naive, this won't happen because the reality of church and religion is that it's a medium for like-minded individuals to hook up and keep their children in a segregated environment. 

I just hope that one day churches along the Jamboree corridor embrace this fact (like the Buddhist Churches or the Korean Churches) and stop peddling your hypocrisy. Who knows, honestly and greater exclusivity may result in a higher salary (oops, I mean housing allowance) for the pastoral staff.

P.S. 

Note the passive aggressive, parking lot grudge match between Harvest vs. Newsong Church (aka Whites vs. Koreans). What's even more pathetic is that the only true difference between these churches is race. The sermons are interchangeable.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I have lost all respect for OC Weekly after this article. Well done.

Ron L.
Ron L.

Is this the "heaping coals" defense, aka Christian version of passive aggressiveness.

Don L.
Don L.

Passive aggressive mockery with a superiority complex....What would Jesus do?

My advice to you "Christians" who get upset about these articles, don't post your comments. You come across as real A-Holes. If the article sucks or is clearly biased, let God sort things out.

David
David

yes, I'm with you. Sad pathetic "journalism"

909Jeff
909Jeff

What was it I told you last Friday?  The next positive article will be the first... Still waiting on that first.

I googled this and I think it might help Dulaney out. http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2... 

Don L.
Don L.

I think it was the use of the term "Latina Cougar" which may cause confusion and concern that Mexicans may attend this church. While that may be true for a small fraction of the congregation, rest assured, there are no minorities represented in any leadership role at this church.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Well... First of all I dont think Michelle has a negative bone in her body! Second... After 20 negative articles about Wiley dont break your arm patting yourself on the back because his son wants to be his own man... and we can have discourse, its Healthy!  

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Stop it already! We've done more positive stories on Christians than you can ever imagine! Go find Michelle's piece on Newsong, and one we did on Wiley Drake's son a while back, and go from there...

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Fashion

General

Loading...