(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
It seems like of late there has been a spate of movie/video projects chronicling the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s. The Jesus Music (the movie) came out last year, and in the fall of 2021, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College published online their Jesus People Movement Oral History Project including interviews with many of the players (among them, yours truly), and under production right now to be released Easter of 2023, is another feature length Lionsgate film Jesus Revolution starring Kelsey Grammar as Chuck Smith. Not to mention a number of lesser-known film projects out of Hollywood Presbyterian Church and Calvary Chapel and the 2004 CD “First Love” featuring many of the pioneers of the movement.
What’s going on here? Is this just boomers wanting to remember? It’s significant enough that Hollywood has gotten in on it largely wanting to tap into the nostalgia of an older crowd, but perhaps trying to appeal to a younger group of millennials and under, who are longing for a simpler time — a time of passionate spiritual awakening to counter the political and social upheaval they are experiencing right now.
Here’s what I think. Yes, many of those over 65 are trying to go back to where they began their spiritual journeys 50 years ago. They want to remember and perhaps renew their faith based on the spiritual reality of those early days. But Millennials are interested too. They are looking for spiritual reality now, and are not finding it in church or many of the current expressions of Christianity in our culture today.
The contemporary church, which in many ways was formed by the Jesus Movement 50 years ago, has become so contemporary in its worship that it has lost its center and is no longer speaking into the real needs of those looking for meaning, love, intimacy and community — things that cannot be found in a rock concert of killer worship songs. Perhaps there are keys to a deeper spiritual reality to be unearthed by digging up the past and examining what made that spiritual revival unique. Is the passion to be found in louder music, or in something else that might be discovered by looking back and bringing forward that which can translate into our current reality.
The stage is set. Part of the motivation for these revisitations of the Jesus Movement might be to try and inspire another movement of its kind. One thing we know, however, is that if there is a spiritual movement in our near future, it will not be anything like it was. The characteristics we’re going to look into are not the characteristics of a movement, but the characteristics of a healthy body of Christ at any time, anywhere. So join us as we take a look back and a look forward.
Back then they were called “Jesus Freaks”. Today what would they be called? How about “Jesus Influencers”. Social media is where everything is happening for millennials and Gen Z. What’s happening on Twitch, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter is bound to be more relevant than what’s happening at the local church. If rock worship isn’t doing it then the latest viral videos of people sharing their testimonies about the love of Jesus in a non-proselytizing way, (because that’s a turn-off) will make a mark on a whole generation wanting to soak up something truly of God but not labeled “religious”. It won’t be Jesus freaks out on the street, to quote Elton John, but influencers on the screen to make it happen this time.
John got a chuckle from your comment: “Jesus Freaks”. Because when I first became a believer or follower of Jesus, my Dad (before he accepted Jesus in his heart) used to call me a Jesus Freak too.. I would often reply: the word freak comes from the word fan and if it’s true – than I’m one of Jesus’ A number one fan b/c what He did for me!
PS before my Father passes away he more or less apologized for those comments – which caused me to chuckle back than too b/c I replied Dad what it did when you said that it confirmed (even thou it did hurt) it did confirm I’m living right if people can see Jesus in me!
Glad you are discussing this and I hope that many folks whether young or not get to know Jesus and if stepping back in time a little helps with that than so be it. So true sometimes about something that worked long ago and did great but, need to find a way to bring up to date which is what to me this Catch does. Many young and older folks are getting a Jesus movement in another way because after I read the Catch and after seeing you Mr Fischer read the Catch I feel I have really learned more and are anxious to see and hear more. I know this much start with enlarging the screen because if you don’t you get distracted on what you can click on off to the side. Take care and God Bless, always.
WOW!! Really excited about the current conversation. Watched the Jesus Music movie last week. I am I guess a late boomer (born in 1958). Was influenced by the youth retreats and folk hymns as a teenager. Got into the music of the pioneers in college. Went to the concerts hosted by Campus Crusade for Christ, They were free to attend although they did take free will offering. A girl I was sweet on bragged me to a Saturday morning Bible study. I was still partying and eventually saw the two didn’t mix. After college I lacked the fellowship and drifted away. I started drinking again and ended up in AA. A women in the meetings (after haring my spiritual history) suggested I read Real Christians Don’t (do) Dance. A few years ago I found Calvary Chapel in Melbourne FL. Didn’t get the connection right away. I believe Billy Graham said in his book that part of the radical aspects about the Jesus people was that they were actually putting into practice the principles mentioned in scripture. I’ve heard that said about 12 step people as well. The 12 steps are a formula designed to develop a personal relationship with God. It ain’t about religion it’s about relationship. AA’s founders ended up with 12 traditions to go along with the steps. They were principles to help keep the fellowship from destruction from the inside as well as the outside. After watching the Jesus Music Movie I recalled the warning in the 12 traditions about money property and prestige diverting us away from our primary purpose.