People get ready there’s a train a-comin’
Pickin’ up passengers coast to coast
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
Don’t need no ticket you just thank the Lord
– Curtis Mayfield, 1965
The Jesus Movement, circa 1968-1972, was the last great spiritual/cultural revolution in this country. It completely reshaped the church in America, led primarily by the growing significance of popular music for worship in the church which the Jesus Movement ushered in. As a result, the typical church service in America today is virtually unrecognizable from its counterpart 50 years ago. Not to mention a Christian subculture and a Christian politic.
Most boomers who had a spiritual experience as part of the Jesus Movement remember it as a time unprecedented in its spiritual reality since. As a result, many have been longing for another movement — wondering if anything similar could happen again in our lifetime. If anything like this were to happen, it would not be for us; it would be for millennials and younger, and as a result, it would be entirely different from what we experienced. Except for the presence of the Holy Spirit, it might not even be recognized by us as the same thing, at least maybe not at first.
Still there are rumblings. This is why we have so many millennials interested in the Catch. They are connecting with us over something they don’t know that we know. It’s just below the surface. They are waiting; we are waiting too. There is great expectation.
Fifty years later, we are listening … wondering … looking for signs. We have our ears down on the rails listening for the distant sound of an approaching train. We believe it’s coming. The Sequel. We will see it; our children will lead it; our grandchildren will experience it. It is time to start praying for it, primarily because we need it so badly. Counterfeit Christianity is indistinguishable from the real thing. There is too much Christianity. Christians control too much. We can’t tell ours from His. We need the undeniable reality of the Holy Spirit to move across the land. We need to see and experience what we cannot effect ourselves. This is how we will know. There will not be anyone in charge. If anyone’s in charge, look somewhere else.
Sing a new song, song of salvation
Got a new life now, I’m a new creation
See that train boy, pullin’ into the station
Get on board now, sweepin’ the nation
– John Fischer, 1969
I’ve often wondered where we went wrong.
Or did we go wrong?
Is everything as it is supposed to be?
Or, could we have worked more conscientiously toward making significant long-term impacts back in the 60’s and 70’s that would have altered our present-day for the better?
If the Jesus movement 50-years ago was centered on the solid foundation of the legitimate Jesus Christ – not the quasi-Christs, the anti-Christs, the faux-Christs as worshiped by the Moonies or other cults, the westernized Christs, or any other sects and religions – shouldn’t things these days by now be a lot more reflective of His Kingdom in both our lives and society?
When we committed ourselves to serving Him and loving others 50-years ago, did we know or take seriously that we were the vanguard of a new era of revival and reformation?
Did we even care enough to even think about that?
Did we ever concern ourselves with looking toward the future with God’s endgame in our sights or were we simply content to “live one day at a time”, sing Maranatha songs, and let God handle the details down the road?
Do any of us vaguely recall seeing forward 50-years into the possibility that, if the 2nd Coming hadn’t already happened by 2019, then our lives and messages (guided by the Holy Spirit) would result in a world where His Love, Joy, and Revelation would prevail because we were His instruments of Peace and messengers of His Wisdom?
Or did we even envision any sort of future apart from our personal salvation, the good feelings we enjoyed back then, and the security of Heaven?
Did we start off as ants that eventually turned into slugs?
Were we once sheep that have become wolves, snakes, and asses?
What happened and where did we go wrong?
How did we miss the warning signs?
I ask these questions now because I didn’t necessarily ask them 50-years ago.
If the majority of us “Jesus-freaks” did, would we have been more diligent in living out the message we proclaimed and, thus, live in a relatively better world today?
If we are indeed on the cusp of a new Jesus movement, perhaps some of these questions ought to be asked by boomers and millennials alike so that we take into serious consideration what the cost of our commitment really entails.
Are we willing to live for the long-term in disciplined adherence to God’s principles, being sensitive to and heeding His warning signs?
Will we commit to caring about how our present-day words and actions will impact our children’s children and their society in 2069?
Can we learn from and avoid our past mistakes this time around?
Fish symbols and Keith Green, man – what more does the world need?!
Peace out dude…
Great questions my brother Bob & thanks for them too! Made me think, even though wasn’t a part in the “Jesus Movement” came to know about His love & grace in a Christmas Church Service in 1979 – and thank God my life hasn’t been the same since!
Recently joined a Legacy web site, because 2 of my Amway heroes recently passed and are with the Lord & they often talked about think 50 + years down the road… leave a great legacy!
PS Also, another one of the reason’s even thou I didn’t want to “do Amway” found out it will help me fulfill Pro. 13:22 A Godly man leaves an inheritance for his Children’s Children… and I knew my engineer’s salary wouldn’t allow me to do that…
Excellent! These are the big questions and mostly the right ones. Our strength was: we were evangelists, period. We preached the gospel and people got saved, but that’s about as far as it went. Pretty much everything else was overshadowed by the imminent return of Christ. “Don’t bother with such and such, just got to get people saved, the Lord is coming back!” Francis Schaeffer had the right title for the next steps after the Jesus Movement. Although it didn’t get applied as broadly as it needed to be, it was the right question: “How Shall We Then Live?”
Thanks, Bob. It seems like you’ve given me fodder for a hundred Catches!
Good Points, Bob. I recall so many who were sure that the Lord’ coming was “soon and very soon” that no one thought about the future. I could try to answer the question, “Where did we go wrong?” but I don’t want to focus on negativity. In 1976, when I became a part of the tail end of the “Jesus movement”, it was through the charismatic movement. We were mostly lapsed Catholics turned born again meeting in peoples homes on week nights. I remember one speaker saying, “I am not with the charismatic movement, I’m with Jesus. The movement may take a wrong turn but I’ll stay with Jesus.” I think that’s good advice for now and for any future movement, whatever name it will be given.
Read this Catch a day late, but it was worth the wait! Loved this: “It is time to start praying for it, primarily because we need it so badly. Counterfeit Christianity is indistinguishable from the real thing. There is too much Christianity.” Amen & Amen!
Sooooo much going on here it makes my head spin a bit.
1. I was fortunate enough to grow up at PBC in the midst of the Jesus movement so I got to see much of what you’re talking about first hand. One of the disadvantages of being a grade school/middle schooler at the time is that the Jesus movement was our norm. Many of us have bemoaned the fact that we haven’t been able to find a “real” church since then. (I even joked with Ray Steadman many times before he passed that he did us a grave disservice in leading us to believe that was the norm.) My 10+ years in full time vocational ministry were shaped by that experience and it was a large reason as to why I was looked at oddly by those who only understood “church” in a more contemporary sense.
2. There was a visceral reality to spirituality back there and then. It was not such a dichotomy as it is today, not so segregated into Sunday and the other days of the week.
3. Should the folks at the tip of the spear or those so deeply effected have looked more to the future? I don’t think so. Living in the depth and breadth of the moment was a part of what made it so powerful.
4. In a broader historical context that time really was the next in line in a series of revivals at least in this country. (Some would say it is the last in line…unless you count smaller geographical movements of Promise Keepers.) Each of those previous revivals was characterized in part by large numbers of people “coming back” to church.
5. I think what you’re suggesting here, John, and if you are then I heartily agree, is that the NEXT revival movement will NOT be a movement inward to the church but a movement outward to the world. In that regard I agree with you that it can’t be “led” by some charismatic personality, because that would be a cult-like copy of what we have now.
So I suppose the question is, given that it will look different, how do we recognize it and how do we, or should we, nudge it in the right direction when we see it?