Jack Sparks, Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Smith and…

Catch Ministry Television Advertisement – No Retreat
November 7, 2018
Soft choir music: “Just As I Am”
Fade in on a grainy black and white Billy Graham video….
John in close up. Takes a breath, looks left and right, leans into the camera. Choir still singing.
Our parents had Billy Graham and Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Fade in Jesus People scenes, outdoor concerts, Christian talking heads
We had Jack Sparks … Frances Schaeffer … Chuck Smith …

Change music, fade in on concerned looking young people in causal attire 
Who do they have?
Vignettes of rap videos, guns, shoot out at a synagogue, pastors in jail for hate speech, journalists being beheaded, anti-Christian billboards – back up the camera to show all this being displayed on a smartphone. Back up some more, it is being held by a young woman on a subway.
New sounds of music, subway rolling on tracts, 
Join us to give Christ a voice for this century. Give them what we had.

“Our parents had Billy Graham.”

“We had Jack Sparks … Francis Schaeffer … Chuck Smith …” These three men vary greatly from each other, yet they are all similar as well, and it was those similarities that made them great.

th-9Jack Sparks was a product of the student unrest of the 1960s and the drug culture in Berkeley, California. Berkeley was a feeding ground for radicals. But there was a new group of radicals that rallied around Jesus. Jack Sparks led that group which sought to contextualize the message of the gospel to radical and revolutionary university students. They formed the Christian World Liberation Front, spawned a street newsletter called Right On, and met regularly to study the Bible and spread the message of Jesus as the real and lasting source of peace, love and community.

Francis Schaeffer was the intellectual. He studied the popular philosophies of 19th th-10century thinkers, wept with the despair of artists and students who saw no way out of the entrapment of existentialism, and sought to show the relevance of the Bible to current thought. Schaeffer contextualized the gospel message to the art and philosophy of the day. The community he and his wife formed in L’Abri, Switzerland became a study center for thousands of young students from evangelical homes who were struggling with their faith in light of current thought.

th-11Chuck Smith was the gentle father figure who contextualized Bible teaching and the reality of the Holy Spirit to a generation of students seeking a deep emotional connection with God. He didn’t mind their long hair, jeans, and their music. He opened his church to hippies seeking spiritual reality and they literally blew the roof off the place. They had to erect a huge tent because they couldn’t build a building fast enough to handle the demand.

I have stories about my own personal experience with each of these men, but the most profound was having Francis Schaeffer address my class at Wheaton College for a week at a time, both when I was a freshman and when I was a senior. He was the first Christian leader to connect for me biblical faith and contemporary thought and culture, and to teach me, by example, to cry over the lost. Perhaps you have a story from your experience with one of these men you’d like to share with us. Please do so by replying to this email.

Three men, three different ministries, one unifying factor: they all sought to make the message of the gospel relevant to the immediately felt needs of the younger generation. They got it. Whoever does this in any age will have an audience. Perhaps that is why many of the Millennials are coming here. They find our message to be relevant to their needs and their view of the world.

But there’s one more thing that all three of these men had, and that was passion. They had a passion for truth, and a love for the lost — especially the lost members of a young, searching generation. And each of them felt they had a corner on something that generation was looking for, and a way to communicate it, and because of that, a responsibility to follow it through. What drove them was the same thing that drove Billy Graham. They all had the never-changing message of the gospel, in an ever-changing form that was relevant to their day and the audience they were trying to reach.

We don’t fully know why we have the attention of Millennials. They found us; we didn’t seek them. But something about who we are and the way we do things here has connected. We are thrilled. Honored

The Catch, begun as the domain of Boomers, has become a gathering place now for Millennials as well, where rare cross-generational relationships are developing to talk about life and spiritual things with each other. Connecting with Millennials is the number one challenge the brick-and-mortar church talks about; creating cross-cultural and cross-generational community is the next one. Who would have known we would do both?

There is no way we could have anticipated the things that are actually happening among us. But this is who we have become. Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which The Catch Ministry is developing a flourishing faith in both young and old. This means changing the metaphor from simply passing the baton to the next generation to a more functional, biblical picture of the body — that is, the entire community of faith, across the entire lifespan, working together to fulfill God’s purposes.

Here at the Catch, we are ramping up the programs that we know will connect. We are studying and listening. We have a Millennial on our board. And as for us Boomers? We are not going to retreat, and “retire” is not in our vocabulary. (Retire sounds like tired twice. We got tired and then we got re-tired.)

Some segments of the population have already called a new Jesus Movement into being. If that’s the case, we are ready. Whatever we do, we will not retreat.

The Challenge
The Lord has called us to speak with new relevance as older, wiser pioneers looking into a new frontier – a frontier destined to be claimed by our very own Catch Millennials and their generation. Are you in? 
Your Vote
  • I vote “Yes” to putting off retirement and reinvigorate the same motivation that drove me to the message, which was about Jesus and how his gospel related to the deep, unresolved needs of our generation and that of the Millennials for love, meaning, community, peace and justice.
  • I vote “Yes!” and consider it a privilege to walk long side our Millennials as we step into a new frontier
  • I vote Yes! to supporting the Catch Ministry’s Accountability Commission and its oversight of several new Catch ministries designed to support our partnership [See below a brief description of the ministries in various stages of development.]
  • I vote “Yes!” as I recognize there is a $71,000 investment required over these next 6 months before these ministries are self sufficient.
  • I vote “Yes!” and salute the Accountability Commission for its wiliness to invest $58,000 provided  I, along with the rest of the Catch Community, accept their challenge to contribute $15,000 now. 
  • I vote “Yes!” and, according to my capability, will contribute toward the $15,000 and I challenge all of my Catch Citizens to do the same.  
[1] The following are only highlights of ministries in various stages of development that will be self-sustaining within the next 6 months.  I look forward to telling you more about each one, but briefly they include: “Johnny’s Café” – a place within the marketplace where we can interact with each other and participate in specifically designed classes, seminars, discussion forums, and roundtable dialogs with John and other thought leaders.  We have an enhanced MemberPartner program that includes a reserved table at Johnny’s Cafe for our “regulars,”our MemberPartners. We have been Beta testing our own radio station, Music that Matters Radio, that seeks to speak to the social and religious upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s and can bring the discussion forward for those in their twenties and thirties who are currently undergoing some of same societal stresses and asking many of the same questions. Over the next 12 months, Catch Publications will make available 4 new books by John.  Thanks to the generosity of Board Member Mike Boland, the rights to all of John’s books and recordings are purchased and being made ready for digital release. Newly formed Team Grace is our corps of volunteers. And finally, with a focus toward joining Millennials throughout the country, John and Marti are accepting speaking dates at Christian colleges and universities and honoring MemberPartner requests to speak in their locations.
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5 Responses to Jack Sparks, Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Smith and…

  1. Gary says:

    Oh wow. About two years ago the very small church I and my family had been driving over 60 miles to attend, closed the doors as our pastor retired and the district office decided to sale the building. As it was we decided to attend the much larger church, the same distance as our old was, just a different direction. I started praying to the Lord to start a church much closer. Well the Lord sent, what was called a “Church Planting” group to train anyone who would take on such an endeavor. I jumped all in. After completing the course I approach the Senior Pastor for possible support. He seemed to be excited about the plan. Three months past, I approached him and told him though there is small church building and was a few miles away from my home that had been with a for sale for a number of years. I had been praying to start an in home church at my home and if that building was still available, well there you go. He said ” I have some great news that I will sharing the next Sunday. I could hardly wait. Well Sunday came and he gave a drawn out plan to kick off a new and exciting outreach in and around area of this of this Five Hundred member church, asking for support to those who wanted to be a part of this new plan to reach the Lost in the area. My heart sank.
    Chapter Two. A few months earlier I had found a box, I thought I had lost, that had some old Records I had bought when I was a newly on fire for the Lord Christian. I three of your records, I have been using the Catch as my daily Devotional now for at least a couple of decades. Trying to grow my support for the Catch with what the Lord has supplied me with. I comment back some time ago that I met you, shook your hand and bought your new record at that time, in a small theater in Santa Rosa California in 1980ish. I know every word on those three records. I’ve used those song as lullabies to my children and grandchildren.
    Another treasure of mine is a live performance of the group Love Song, out of Calvary Chapel, in Costa Mesa California, Chick Smith’s (unto the Lord) Church that has effected the Jesus Movement in a most Powerful way. I met Chuck Girard a year or so after meeting you. Chuck had started up his solo career and was performing in a Evangelical Free Church in Concord California. That is as close a connection to Chuck Smith as I can recall. But then there’s the rest of the Story.
    I reenlisted in the Army shortly after that. After completing helicopter flight school, I was station at Fort Cason Colorado. I spent a majority of the rest of my 20 year military career at Fort Carson then retired here in 1999. It turns out that the very same empty church building that I had been praying to the Lord about, one Sunday had about fifty cars in it’s parking lot. Wo Ho !! The Next Sunday I went that “Little Country Church” on the edge of town. There is a much larger church in the middle of Colorado Springs Colorado, its called Rocky Mountain Calvary. So come to find out there is a connection with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Chuck Smith’s Verse by verse-Book by book, method of Teaching and Spiritual Growth. A few Catches ago I told you that just as it was with the hippies, I pray it can be with the Millennial generation and other.
    I certainly will praying that the Lord make it so that you bring you gifts, talents and message to the Colorado Springs.

  2. jwfisch says:

    Fantastic, Gary. Amazing story. (And a belated Veteran’s Day greeting to you). Marti and I have committed ourselves to honorarium-free trips to events set up by our MemberPartners (expenses only). So look into it.

  3. Gary says:

    Forgive me, but, where do I begin the process? Aside of my great desire. I’m not too sure how to kick something like this onto the playing field?

  4. Gary says:

    John, I’m sorry. But every so often I check on my cell phone to look and see if the Catch of the day has been sent out by you. Then I hurry and go check on my small lap top and read it. Sometimes it seem that I don’t get a trustworthy feed on my cell phone and things are left out and it doesn’t make sense. Anyway Brother John, today it appeared you put out a sort list of donateters. Which was cool. But below that I’m not sure it was. What was the reason for having a line with (SafeUnsubscriber TM pickwickpeddler@gmail.com) which happens to be my e-mail address. I’m thinking…. What’s up here. I have never Unsubscribed from the “Catch” other than changing from yahoo e-mail to g-mail. The Catch and You, will always have my support to the fullest of my ability. I tried to Text you thru other means, but I am by hardly much technical means tech savy. Thanks Gary from Calhan Colorado.

  5. Pingback: Three Men, One Message - Jesus People Movement Oral History

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