Close Encounters of the Spiritual Kind


Okay, I’ve been dancing around this all my life, but I’m finally ready to come out with it. Blame it on my wife, Marti. She’s been saying something’s coming for some time now and I’ve been going, “Sure, sure.” But have you noticed how anyone who has either become a Christian during the Jesus Movement or experienced any kind of ministry during that time, cannot stop thinking about it? Like the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where Richard Dreyfuss builds a model of a mountain in his living room and doesn’t know why — he just had to do it? Why does the Jesus Movement sit in the living room of anyone who experienced it? This is not ho hum, time marching on. Nor is it just a bad case of nostalgia. No … something really happened, and something’s coming back, and you can think I’m nuts, you can humor me, or you can join me, but that’s where we’re going.

It’s a little like the early church — something came out of nothing. Suddenly there were believers everywhere and a church. It wasn’t church planting, it just happened. It didn’t fit into any existing structure; it built its own. One day it wasn’t here, and then the next day — one day after Pentecost — there it was. Yes, the Jesus Movement was like that, and I’m not just inflating my memory. This is why, by the way, the Jesus Movement relied so much on the early church to explain itself. This is why we baptized peopled in public, why we found elders to lead the church, why we found people with gifts of apostleship, evangelism, prophesy, and pastor-teaching, and sent them off to do their jobs without anything but their Bibles. We were crazy. We were nuts. We were drunk on the Holy Spirit and in love with Jesus.

But it didn’t take long for the structure to settle in around everything that was going on, and soon the structure was dictating what to do. The church started to operate outside in instead of inside out. Eventually the church and the Christian subculture swallowed up the Jesus Movement, but we never went away. Nor did we buy into the system.

This is why so many of the musicians who sprang up in those early Jesus Movement days are still doing what they were doing fifty years ago, they’re just doing it on a small scale while waiting for something big. They’re just hanging around the mountain. They don’t know why; they can’t help it.

And finally, this is why we’re connecting with the millennials. Because they are the ones who will lead the next revolution. They haven’t bought in either, perhaps for different reasons, but they are holding out for something new. They don’t know what; they just know the current incarnation of the church isn’t it.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? It means we hold fast to what we believe, hold lightly to everything else, watch for the appearance of the Holy Spirit, and encourage those younger in age and faith to be ready for anything.

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6 Responses to Close Encounters of the Spiritual Kind

  1. peter leenheer says:

    This is good stuff. I love how you emphasize the anticipation and the waiting. That is hope!!! If you have nothing to hope for then you possess whatever it is. Don’t let the deferred hope make your heart sick. The saying is, “It is worth the wait”. So wait, and be ready.
    “…encourage those younger in faith and age to be ready for anything.” That to me is the key. Every revival is different. It is usually followed with the finances from various sources to make the kingdom come, but not to line pockets. When you say we should wait for the Spirit, I agree, because the Spirit spearheads every revival. We just need to be ready and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.
    It seems to me that every revival is different so that we don’t start to structure and manufacture a revival. God knows what he is doing. Jeremiah 32:27 I am the God who made heaven and earth, is anything too hard for me!!! The idea is to let the unknown get you excited, because we have a God who is capable of ANYTHING!!!!!

  2. Don Flewelling says:

    It’s not just revival… I remember the 60’s and 70’s and when John Fischer was a “new” artist! Back then the Six Day War and predictions of “the generation that sees Israel reborn” brought about a sense of anticipation that the Messiah’s return was near!
    But more recently, we’ve arrived at a time when “the love of many has waxed cold”, women count themselves “blessed” to be barren, and then there’s the drive for infanticide.
    As much as I anticipate whatever is next, I find myself longing for His Return. But, I know why He tarries… and I am content to work till He returns!

    • jwfisch says:

      So nice to hear from you, Don. I think we need to get in the shoes of the younger ones and see the world from their perspective. They have the rest of their ives to live.They’ll want to know what to do.

  3. Alma Siemens says:

    I think you have tapped into what “wants to happen.” Keep encouraging those of us who were young then and those who are young now!

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