We recently sat down with Greg Laurie to discuss his new book, Tell Someone, which encourages its readers to go out and spread the gospel message with confidence! The audio can be played below, and included is a transcription so you can follow along. Enjoy!
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Victoria Morgan: Hello, and welcome to the conversation. I’m Victoria Morgan interviewing for Christian Audio. And joining me today by phone is our guest, Pastor Greg Laurie, and he is excited about sharing the Good News, and he’s going to share some of that excitement with us. His new book and audiobook, Tell Someone, is an extraordinary work on evangelism. Extraordinary, because he lays out the same biblical principles that he’s used over the years to share the Good News LIVE with over five million people worldwide. Whether you’re a bold evangelist or someone who is painfully shy about sharing your faith, Greg has written Tell Someone to equip and encourage you to step up your game.
Greg is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Orange County, California, now one of the largest and most influential churches in the US. He recently celebrated forty years there as a senior pastor. He hosts the nationally syndicated radio program A New Beginning, which broadcasts on more than seven hundred radio stations and translators worldwide. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
He has penned more than seventy books, including his very candid autobiography, Lost Boy. He has been married to Cathe Laurie for forty-one years. They have two sons: Christopher, who went to be with the Lord in 2008, and Jonathan. They also have five grandchildren.
Pastor Greg, thank you for joining us.
Greg Laurie: Well, thank you very much, Victoria. Good to be with you!
Victoria Morgan: I think we desperately need to take hold of what’s inside your new book, Tell Someone. In fact that first line just grabbed me. Before the introduction, before the first chapter, you write: This book is not written to make you feel bad or condemn you if you have not engaged others with the Gospel message. This book is written to encourage and inspire you.
And I have to tell you, when I read that I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This is truly a book for our times.
Greg Laurie: Well, thanks, Victoria, and that’s exactly why I wrote that line, because I think whenever we bring up the topic of evangelism, a lot of people get real nervous. There is one thing that Christians and non-Christians have in common: they’re both uptight about evangelism. Non-Christians are uptight about being evangelized, and Christians are often uptight about evangelizing. And it’s because we probably tried it and we didn’t do so well or we had a failure and we feel I’m just not cut out for this and so forth. But here’s what I’m trying to say in this book Tell Someone: number one, you can do this. Number two, you must do this. It’s not an option. We’ve been commanded by Jesus to go to all the world and preach the Gospel and to make disciples.
But what I try to emphasize in this book is that, evangelism can be a joyful thing, and dare I say it, can even be fun. Because when you’re in sync with the will of God, and we know it is the will of God for people to be saved because He says He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, but when God is speaking through you to another person, that’s one of the most joyful things you can experience on this earth. What I tried to do in this book is to help people understand that this is not rocket science, sharing our faith, that there are certain principles that if applied, I think you can transform their life as a Christian because it’s not that I invented these principles – they’re found clearly in Scripture – but I identify these principles that you can start applying that will help you to start leading other people to Jesus Christ.
Victoria Morgan: Well, first you say that we have to take the time to read the whole book, that’s important … take the time. Then we are supposed to apply these biblical truths. If we do that, you say we’ll not only be more confident to share our faith, but also to bring others to Christ. And you make that distinction. So I get the feeling that these steps are very helpful and crucial in terms of wanting to reach the lost.
Greg Laurie: Yeah, they really are, because, you know, one of the things I point out in the book is any effective evangelism is going to start with a God-given burden. So we can talk all day about techniques and opening statements, et cetera, but really, if you don’t care about lost people, it’s not going to make that much of a difference. So we need to pray that God will help us to see lost people as He sees them. They’re not the enemy; they’re under the control of the enemy … the devil. Our objective is to go on sort of a rescue operation because the Bible says they’re taken captive by the God of this world, speaking of Satan, to do his will. So we’re there to sort of open the door of the prison cell so they can be free.
Victoria Morgan: You say freedom, and we as Christians understand what that means, freedom in Christ. We have a key, and yet we’re so unsure about how to offer that freedom, that key, to those that are trapped.
Greg Laurie: You know, I just had the opportunity to speak with Saeed Abedini who spent a number of years in an Iranian prison, and I asked him what it was like to be out of that prison cell, and he said, “It was like a whole new day. It’s like my life started over again.” And there’s a lot of people in a prison cell of sin. And we need to go in there with the Gospel and open the door and show them the way out. The Bible says, “How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”
Victoria Morgan: Well, hopefully we’re showing non-believers, just by the way that we live, that we have a better way. But how do we get from living it out to the next step?
Greg Laurie: Verbal communication. It’s through the message of the Gospel, articulated and verbalized to non-believers. That’s why Paul said it’s of the foolishness of preaching, or literally the “preach thing,” which is the Gospel. And by the way, to preach doesn’t mean you have to yell. You don’t have elevate your voice even, it just means that you’re proclaiming it, you’re declaring it to people, and that’s something God has called us all to do.
Victoria Morgan: But it doesn’t stop there, does it? I mean, we shouldn’t just lead them to Christ and then leave them in the pews to fend for themselves. In your audiobook, you ask us, and you ask the churches to have some kind of a follow-through system in place. Would you unravel that for us a little bit?
Greg Laurie: Yeah. Well, you know, we all have a role to play. I mean, God is ultimately the one that converts people. You know, I’ve never converted anyone, and I hope I never do because they would be one sorry convert. But our job is to sow the seed of the Gospel. Sometimes we water the seed that someone else has sown. Sometimes we reap where others have sown. But listen, once a person has accepted Christ – and I have a whole section in the book on “popping the question” – in other words, how to invite people to ask Jesus into their heart and what to do if they agree to that – but once that person has prayed and accepted Christ, now the joyful experience of follow-up begins.
Victoria Morgan: So, in your book you spell out the Great Commission and the importance of that. According to Mark, preach the Good News to everyone and according to Matthew, that next step.
Greg Laurie: The Great Commission, according to Matthew, is to make disciples of all nations … so teaching them to absorb all things Christ has commanded. So put it together; we’re to proclaim the Gospel, then teach people what Jesus said. You know, when a person becomes a Christian, what they need more than anything else is a friend. Just someone to sort of model for them what a Christian looks like. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar. You don’t have to have the answer to every conceivable question. But what you want to be is just someone who’s following Jesus and you can provide an example for that person to emulate.
Victoria Morgan: And they’re so unbelievably blessed by that.
Greg Laurie: Here’s the cool thing about it, is not only is that a blessing for the new believer, but it’s a blessing for the seasoned believer, because having a new believer in your life can actually bring revival to you as you rediscover things that perhaps you had begun to forget.
Victoria Morgan: And you had someone in your life that showed you that kindness, the love of a father, when you were, as you said before, a vulnerable kid. And then you got to share the love of Christ with him! I mean, you experienced such a turn-around in your life. What would you say to the person who just comes from that kind of a background, the same background you did?
Greg Laurie: You know, I don’t know what your circumstances have been in life that have brought you to where you are right now, but God called you to Himself and you put your faith in Him, and now you can go and help somebody else. My mom married a lot of different guys and one man stood out from all the others. Most of my mother’s husbands were kind of what you might describe as barfly types, hard partying, drinking guys. And she found this one man named Oscar Laurie, who was a hardworking, moral man, also happened to be an attorney. And he is the only father who ever really treated me as a father ought to treat a son, though he was not my biological father. And so, years past after my mom divorced him and I reconnected with him because I wanted to share the Gospel with him because he was the only person who I ever thought of as my dad. And so, I had the privilege of leading him to Christ and helping him get up on his feet spiritually.
Victoria Morgan: Wow! And speaking of that happiness, that joy, that enthusiasm, you make it a point of saying that those who share their faith, who share the Gospel, are happier or more joyful or even more on fire than those that don’t.
Greg Laurie: When you’re around a new believer that’s discovering these things for the first time, it can impact you as you rediscover it. I’ve compared it in the book to going to Disneyland with adults or with kids. You know, if you go to Disneyland or Disneyworld with adults, they’re often critical. They’ll complain about how much it cost to get in, you know, how long it takes to wait to get on a ride. But when you go with a kid, well it’s like a whole new world, that sense of delight and joy in their face as they see those things that Disneyland offers, and it’s similar with a new believer. You know, you can go to church, you’ve heard these things before, but then you take a new believer and they’re hearing them for the first time and it’s changing their life and in effect they can change your life as you rediscover these truths.
Victoria Morgan: Absolutely! You know, as I was reading Tell Someone, these verses popped in my head, where Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep, tend my lambs.”And this isn’t an option, it’s a command. And in your book, you’ve laid it out for us step-by-step, how to get from being a “denying Peter” to a “Peter the Rock.” Would you say that’s an accurate assessment?
Greg Laurie: Yeah. I mean, I think that what we want to do is realize that you were blessed to be a blessing. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these TV programs, where people are hoarders and they fill their house floor to ceiling with just a lot of junk, and sometimes Christians can be hoarders, too. You know, we take the truth in and we think it’s all for us, but no, God gave us these truths to share with others, and I think we have a choice as a church and as individual Christians. We can evangelize or we can fossilize. And if we don’t take the truths of God’s word and share them with others, it can actually be harmful to us. So I really think one of the best things you can do is get involved in serving the Lord, and get involved in sharing with others, and definitely get involved in evangelism.
You know, sometimes Christians want to go in the mission field and they’ll say, “I would like to cross the sea for Christ.” Hey, sometimes you can just cross the street for Christ and talk to your neighbor that isn’t a believer yet. Listen, ministry opportunities are all around you. That’s why Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes and look; the fields are white on the harvest, but the labors are few.” Opportunities are there. You just need to pay attention and be open to the leading of the spirit and I’m telling you, if you’ll apply the principles in this book, you will be leading people to Christ.
Victoria Morgan: Well, when I was in ministry, there was an excuse that some Christians used for not wanting to serve. They claim that they don’t feel led to serve in the children’s ministry, or they don’t feel led to do parking lot security. They don’t feel led to be an evangelist. Would you share your opinion with us about feeling led or not feeling led?
Greg Laurie: Sure. Well, I think the problem lies with the word “feeling.” That’s why we need to base what we do on what God’s word says. You know, the Scripture is our touchstone. The Scripture is our GPS system, if you will, not our feelings. That would be like saying, “Well, I’m going to drive to a certain place and I’ll just go by my feelings.” Well, I’ll get lost. So I need help. So, go by what the Scripture teaches. And, you know, Jesus said that He the Son of Man, did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. Then Paul writes and says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” So we need to serve the Lord, and the way we serve the Lord is primarily by serving others. And so when you involve yourself at your local church and you volunteer, that’s how you make a big church a small church. And that’s how you get skin in the game and actually participate in what is happening.
Victoria Morgan: Yeah. When I first started going to church, I didn’t even know what a servant was. I didn’t know that I could serve, or that anyone would even let me serve. What would you say to the person who doesn’t think that he or she could be used by God, or maybe somebody that’s never considered serving before?
Greg Laurie: You know, far too often in church we come as a spectator, when in reality God wants us to be on the team, on the field scoring points. We need to realize that church can be a great blessing and a great opportunity to help other people. And at our church in particular we rely on folks who volunteer their time. And I think the person that is missing out is the one that is what I like to call a “pew potato.” You know, you’ve heard of couch potatoes; they’re pew potatoes! They just sit, just going to church, reading the Bible, reading great Christian books and so forth, and then they don’t do anything with it. It really is important for us to all be discovering what the gifts are that God has given to us, developing those gifts, then using them. And one thing we’re all called to do no matter where we’re at, we’re all called, as Jesus said, to go into the world and preach the Gospel. It’s not an option. It’s a command, but it’s also a blessing and a joy.
Victoria Morgan: That’s good to know. It’s so good to have that encouragement. We all need it.
If we want to connect with you, read your blog or find out more about Harvest Crusade, where do we go for that?
Greg Laurie: The best place to go is just harvest.org. Again, it’s harvest.org. And once you land on that site, that will link you to things that we’re doing, for instance, on March 6th of this year we’re holding a giant evangelistic event at AT&T Stadium called Harvest America. The stadium seats a hundred thousand people. So we’re doing a big outreach that people can participate in. They can view online and have an event in their own church by taking the dedicated HD video signal. So that’s one of the things we’re doing, and then I write in my blog on a regular basis, and there’s links to my Facebook page, my Instagram, and Twitter pages. And I’m always talking about different things, but I hope people get a copy of this book Tell Someone and start applying the principles and I pray that they will have the joy of leading others to Jesus.
Victoria Morgan: Well, Pastor Greg, thank you so much for your time, and for giving us so much encouragement in your new book, Tell Someone.
Greg Laurie: Thanks, Victoria. Thank you very much.
Victoria Morgan: You can enjoy Pastor Greg Laurie’s new book, Tell Someone, now on audiobook, by going to christianaudio.com. I’m Victoria Morgan. Thanks for listening.
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