Four years ago, the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (LPEA) scrapped its traditional evangelistic crusades in favor of citywide festivals (CT, Jan. 8, 2001, p. 24). More than 800,000 have attended the 10 family-oriented events in cities such as Syracuse, Boise, and Seattle.
In March, LPEA will refine its festival model for a different audience: college students on spring break. And, in a new twist, 1,000 churches across the country will link to the beach party via satellite.
"When churches invited us to Fort Lauderdale, they said the city needed us," evangelist Luis Palau, 68, told Christianity Today. "But we knew it could be a national outreach also. You often see some nasty spring break reports. Now, while people are watching television out of prurient interest, here we come nationally with the news of Jesus Christ."
More than 700 Florida churches are sponsoring lpea's March 22-23 Fort Lauderdale Beachfest. Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, said Florida churches like the "user-friendly" focus.
The LPEA will create miniature versions of its Florida spring break event in major U.S. markets. On March 22, the Church Communication Network (CCN), which provides satellite programming for churches, will beam a live two-hour feed from Beachfest nationally. The broadcast will be the center of at least 20 mini-festivals in larger markets. These will include Syracuse, New York, and spring break hot spots such as Panama Beach in Florida's Panhandle.
LPEA staff members have organized these "mega-parties" as small festivals for youth. They will have bands, speakers, and adventure sports, designed to complement the live feed. In Seattle, more than 30 youth groups will host the event in a local sports arena.
Local churches are throwing their own "beach parties" as well. Kevin Palau, lpea executive vice president, told CT that as many as a thousand churches will use the ccn feed to supplement their own events.
Lon Allison, director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, said that Graham pioneered the use of live satellite feeds in his 1995 global crusade, but their track record for evangelism hasn't been that strong. Still, he sees a growing trend in the evangelistic use of satellite broadcasting. "We're anxious to see the results [of Beachfest] and highly affirm what Luis is doing. I love the way they are tying it into youth ministries all over America. That makes this groundbreaking."
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The Luis Palau Evangelistic Association website has information on Beachfest and past festivals. The site also has information on the regional beach parties, hosting your own beach party, and Project Beachfest.
Other Christianity Today articles on Luis Palau ministries include:
Evangelistic Circus in a Box | Festival con Dios links with Palau organization to expand work of proclamation. (Oct. 1, 2002)
Downtown Evangelism Makes a Comeback | Luis Palau "tweaks" crusade model into evangelistic festivals. (Dec. 21, 2001)
Crowds Exceed Palau's Expectations | Adapting technological methods developed earlier by Billy Graham's Global Mission, Luis Palau preached to more than 600,000 Egyptians last month in the country's largest evangelistic outreach in modern history. (April 27, 1998)
Palau Crusade Last in Hong Kong? | Evangelist Luis Palau, holding the last evangelistic crusade in Hong Kong before the British colony reverts to Chinese sovereignty, preached a message of hope to those facing an uncertain future. (May 19, 1997)
Palau wrote "Which Part of the Great Commission Don't You Understand?" for Christianity Today in 1998.
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