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Harvest Crusades: The Bumble Bee Effect

Some times it’s tough being an expert.

Especially when you offer an expert opinion that ends up being laughably wrong.

Like the Decca Music executive who said, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

The subject of this expert opinion?

The Beatles.

Or the forward looking take of IBM chairman Thomas Watson –

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

I couldn’t help but think of these of this hall of fame of off target assessments when I sat at a pastor’s lunch and heard a fellow say with a great deal of certainty –

“The era of mass evangelistic crusades is over.”

Well, before we consign such outreaches to the dust bin of history, take a look at this “I-Phone” level view of the Harvest Crusades that were held in Southern California last weekend.

When I was on staff at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, I had the chance to meet with two Japanese sociologists who were studying the phenomenon of the “Mega Church”.

Since Costa Mesa has over 40,000 people who call it their church home, it certainly fit the description.

What these researchers wanted to know was, what was the secret to Calvary’s transformation from “a little country church on the edge of town” to a fellowship that at last count had spun off over 2,000 daughter churches around the world?

Was it small groups?

Was it contemporary services with state of the art media?

Was it a keen sense of felt needs and community demographics?


I told them that instead of doing all the latest and greatest-sure fire techniques proven-positive to grow a church, Pastor Chuck Smith laid an emphasis on prayer, teaching God’s Word and loving one another.

“That’s it?”

I replied, “I know that sounds very simple, but Calvary Costa Mesa is an example of what I’d call a ‘Bumble Bee Church’.”

“Bumble Bee Church?”

“You know what biologists say about bumble bees, don’t you? They are poorly designed. Their bodies are too big and their wings are too small. By all aerodynamic principles they shouldn’t be able to fly. But no one told the bumble bees.”

“In the same way, according to all the experts this church shouldn’t be what it is. It is a work of God. It’s a bumble bee church.”

“Ahh! A ‘Bumble Bee Church!”

It is possible that experts can give a laundry list of reasons why an effort like te Harvest Crusades shouldn’t fly.

But God clearly had a different opinion.

I think the 11,000 plus who gave their lives to Christ last weekend are glad that Greg Laurie and his team didn’t listen to the “experts”!


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