The Jesus Movement of the 70s
THE JESUS MOVEMENT
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The Jesus movement was a movement in Christianity beginning on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and spreading primarily through North America and Europe, before dying out by the early 1980s. It was the major Christian element within the hippie counterculture, or, conversely, the major hippie element within some strands of Protestantism. Members of the movement were called Jesus people, or Jesus freaks.
The Jesus movement left a legacy of various denominations and other Christian organizations, and had an impact on both the development of the contemporary Christian right and the Christian left. Jesus music, which grew out of the movement, greatly influenced contemporary Christian music, helping to create various musical subgenres such as Christian rock and Christian metal.
The terms Jesus movement and Jesus people were coined by Duane Pederson in his writings for the Hollywood Free Paper. The term Jesus freak was originally a pejorative label imposed on the group by non-Christian hippies, but members of the Jesus movement reclaimed the phrase as a positive self-identifier.
Though still a part of the broader hippie movement, the Jesus movement was partly a reaction against the counterculture from which it originated. Some people became disenchanted with the status quo and became hippies. Later, some of these people became disenchanted with the hippie lifestyle and became Jesus people.
Beliefs and practices
The Jesus movement was restorationist in theology, seeking to return to the original life of the early Christians. As a result, Jesus people often viewed churches, especially those in the United States, as apostate, and took a decidedly counter cultural political stance in general. The theology of the Jesus movement also called for a return to simple living and asceticism in some cases. The Jesus people had a strong belief in miracles, signs and wonders, faith, healing, prayer, The Bible, and powerful works of the Holy Spirit. For example, a miracle-filled revival at Asbury College in 1970 grabbed the attention of the secular news media and became known nation-wide.
The movement tended towards strong evangelism and millennialism. Some of the most read books by those within the movement included Ron Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth.
Perhaps the most illustrative aspect of the Jesus movement was its communal aspect. Many Jesus People lived in communes. Though there were some groups, such as the Calvary Chapel movement, which did not live in communes, these remained more on the fringes of the Jesus movement. Within the commune, the group became more important than the individual and communal sharing of possessions was the norm. One example would be Graham Pulkingham's community described in his book They Left Their Nets.
Growth and decline
Secular and Christian media exposure in 1971 and 1972 caused the Jesus movement to explode across the United States, attracting evangelical youth eager to identify with the movement. The Shiloh communities and the Children of God attracted many new recruits while many other communes and fellowships sprang up.
Perhaps the height of the Jesus movement was in the week-long gathering in Dallas, Texas known as Explo '72. This gathering attracted 80,000 young people and brought the hippies of the Jesus movement together with young people from traditional Christian families and churches.[The event was organized by the very traditional Campus Crusade for Christ and involved such traditional leaders as Bill Bright and Billy Graham. Many of the young Jesus People attending Explo '72 discovered for the first time these and other traditional avenues of Christian worship and experience.
Although Explo '72 marked the highwater mark of media interest, the Jesus movement continued at a grass roots level with smaller individual groups and communities.
Although the Jesus movement lasted no more than a decade (except for the Jesus People USA which continues to exist in Chicago), its influence on Christian culture can still be seen. Thousands of converts moved into leadership positions in churches and parachurch organisations. The informality of the Jesus movement's music and worship affected almost all evangelical churches. Some of the fastest growing US denominations of the late 20th century, such as Calvary Chapel, Hope Chapel Churches, and the Vineyard Churches, trace their roots directly back to the Jesus movement, as do parachurch organisations like Jews for Jesus and the multi-million dollar contemporary Christian music industry. Perhaps the most significant and lasting influence, however, was the growth of an emerging strand within evangelical Christianity that appealed to the contemporary youth culture.
Main article: Jesus music
There has been a long legacy of Christian music connected to the Jesus movement. Jesus music, also known as gospel beat music in the UK, primarily began when some hippie and street musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s converted to Christianity. They continued to play the same style of music they had played previously but began to write lyrics with a Christian message. Many music groups developed out of this, and some became leaders within the Jesus movement, most notably Barry McGuire, Love Song, Second Chapter of Acts, All Saved Freak Band, Servant, Petra, Stryper, Resurrection Band, Phil Keaggy, Dion DiMucci, Paul Stookey  of Peter, Paul, and Mary; Randy Stonehill, Randy Matthews, Andraé Crouch (and the Disciples), Nancy Honeytree, Keith Green, and Larry Norman. The Joyful Noise Band traveled with a Christian community throughout the U.S. and Europe, performing in festivals held underneath giant tents. In the UK, Malcolm and Alwyn were the most notable agents of the gospel beat.
According to The Jesus People: Old-Time Religion in the Age of Aquarius by Enroth, Ericson, and Peters, Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California founded the first Christian rock labels when he launched the Maranatha! Music label in 1971 as an outlet for the Jesus music bands performing at Calvary worship services. However, in 1970 Larry Norman recorded, produced, and released two albums: Street Level and Born Twice for Randy Stonehill. on One Way Records.
Belmont Avenue Church Of Christ
Don Finto was called to Belmont Avenue Church of Christ (now simply Belmont Church ), an ailing old inner city church in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row between the public housing and several universities – Peabody, Vanderbilt and Belmont College etc. By the summer of 1971, the membership roll had dropped to about 75 elderly members. The church had mainstream roots in the Churches of Christ, but was transformed and firmly placed in the Jesus movement by an influx of countercultural Christians.
Seating ran out, with people sitting on the window sills or on the stage. It was not uncommon to find them walking the worst parts of Lower Broadway witnessing to hookers and addicts. Within a year or two the fellowship grew to hundreds and the famous Koinonia Coffee House was opened by Bob and Peggy Hughey. Koinonia had been an old "Five and Dime" store on Music Square that had closed down. The concerts held there on weekends helped east coast Christian music to grow in popularity. The house band was Dogwood, and many famous musicians regularly hit the stage, including Amy Grant, Brown Bannister, Chris Christian, Don Francisco, Fireworks, Annie and Steve Chapman, Clay In The Potter's Hand and many others.
Unlike many other Christian movements, there was no single leader or figurehead of the Jesus movement. Some of the larger names include Duane Pederson, Jack Sparks, who led the Christian World Liberation Front, as well as Lonnie Frisbee, who worked for a time along with Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. Frisbee was a key evangelist during the growth of the Calvary churches; Smith was one of the few pastors who welcomed in the hippies who after coming to faith, eventually became known as Jesus people, and thus allowed for the dramatic future growth of his affiliate church network. Sparks and Pederson later became priests in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The international Potter's House Church (CFM) was birthed out of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a church movement based in Los Angeles where Chuck Smith, the pastor of Calvary Chapel, received his early theological training.
Fellowship House Church
Steve Freeman and others opened the Kingdom Come Christian Coffee House in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1971. Each Saturday night hippies and Jesus People gathered for worship, songs and fellowship. In 1972 several people who were highly involved in the Kingdom Come graduated from high schools and dispersed in several colleges and universities throughout the Southeastern United States. Each one started a Fellowship House Church. Maynard Pittendreigh established one at Erskine College, Jay Holmes established one at the University of South Carolina, Steve Freeman established one at Furman University, etc. Leadership moved from Steve Freeman to a charismatic preacher named Erskine Holt, a self-described apostle of the movement who lived in Florida. By 1973 nearly every campus throughout Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia had Fellowship House Churches. These generally died out by 1977, with many of the members moving to more traditional campus ministries. Many, however, moved onto similar ministry in such organizations as Calvary Chapel.
In the UK, the Jesus Army was among the groups most influenced by the Jesus movement, embracing (former) hippies, bikers and drug addicts, among others. Many of the church adopted a communal lifestyle, which continues to this day, with over 600 living in Christian Community.
Shiloh Youth Revival Centers
The Shiloh Youth Revival Centers movement was the largest Jesus People communal movement in the United States in the 1970s. Founded by John Higgins in 1968 as a small communal house in Costa Mesa, CA, the movement quickly grew to a very large movement catering mostly to disaffected college-age youth. There were over 100,000 people involved and 175 communal houses established during its lifespan. Two years after the movement's founding, Higgins and some of the core members of the movement bought 90 acres (360,000 m2) of land near Dexter, Oregon and built a new headquarters which they called "The Land".
History of the Jesus Movement
by David de Sabatino
History of the Jesus Movement
By most accounts, the Jesus People Movement began in 1967 with the opening of a small storefront evangelical mission called the Living Room in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district. Though other missionary type organizations had preceded them in the area, this was the first one run solely by street Christians.
Within a short time of these first stirrings a number of independent Christian communities sprang up all across North America. In Seattle, the Jesus People Army was born in response to a vision experienced by evangelist Linda Meissner, who had seen an "army of teenagers marching for Jesus." On the Sunset Strip, evangelist Arthur Blessitt opened the His Place nightclub and coffeehouse as a 24 hour way station for youth. At the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Jack Sparks and some other members of Campus Crusade decided to begin a countercultural outreach program called the Christian Liberation World Front (CWLF) directed towards reaching campus radicals.
Another development was Jesus Music, the controversial combination of rock music and the gospel as one of the most effective (and subsequently lasting) institutions of the revival. Artists and groups such as Ron Moore, Love Song, John Fischer, Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Agape, and the All Saved Freak Band are just a few of the performers that felt the need to communicate spiritual truths through a popular medium. Christian coffeehouses and Jesus rock festivals emerged as the music gained momentum as a popular alternative to the mainstream industry. Contemporary Christian radio shows sprang up as did magazines devoted solely to monitoring the fledgling Jesus Music scene. While many conservative church-goers lamented that Jesus Music was a spiritual compromise, these pioneers maintained that they were combating the negative influence of mainstream rock music. In an attempt to develop an apologetic for their evangelistic efforts they echoed the sentiments of reformer Martin Luther when he asked "why should the devil have all the best tunes."
Two men walking up a hill
and one's left standing still
I wish we'd all been ready
The revival also spawned a number of extremist groups such as the Children of God, The Alamo Foundation, and the Way International. Although at first accepted and welcomed as more militant and committed street Christian groups, as apologetic ministries such as the CWLF's Spiritual Counterfeits Project rose to expose doctrinal deviations, these groups were branded as heretical.
Although the media's interest in the movement waned by the end of 1971, there was much evidence that the revival was still going strong. The Jesus People USA, an offshoot ministry of the original Seattle Jesus People Army, would soon find a home in Chicago ministering to street youth. In 1972 Campus Crusade organized Explo '72 in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas where many of the movement's top performers were invited to sing. In 1973 former Calvary Chapel pastor Kenn Gulliksen was just starting a string of Bible studies that would culminate in the Vineyard churches.
With Watergate and President Nixon's promises to end the war in Vietnam dominating the front pages, the counterculture receded thus removing the mission field that the revival had targeted. Where previous efforts of evangelism had been as simple as playing a guitar on a street corner for a group of spiritually interested hippies, the cynicism born of societal fears towards "cults" and their "brainwashing" techniques made evangelism a less fruitful endeavor than it once had been. As the counterculture came to an end, Jesus People groups either disbanded, institutionalized as churches, or stubbornly clung to their countercultural roots. Though the Jesus People Movement had effectively ended by the mid-1970s, there were still a host of churches, parachurch organizations, apologetics ministries, converts, Jesus musicians, independent evangelists, and missionary workers that had been funneled into Protestant and Catholic denominations of all theological skews.
Though the Jesus People Movement remains relatively neglected by mainstream and religious historians, its influence throughout the church was influential. It is our hope that through your participation on this page that we can offer insightful analysis of this period with the knowledge that historical reflection is an important part of our Christian heritage.
David Di Sabatino
PEOPLE & FACES OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT
Arthur Blessitt and His Place - The minister of the Sunset Strip and founder of the His Place nightclub, the psychedelic evangelist came to prominence in the late 1960s after preaching at a local strip club. Blessitt was responsible for Christianizing some of the counterculture's sayings, including "turn on to Jesus," and comparing salvation to an "eternal rush." The local businessmen were successful in getting His place shut down in the summer of 1969 but Arthur chained himself the 12 foot cross in front of the building and fasted for 28 days,--- until they got another building just down the Strip that was kept open for two more years. It was open even as Arthur carried the cross across America and felt called of God to go overseas in the summer of 1971. He has continued to do so until the present. Visit Arthur's website - www.blessitt.com
Jack Sparks and the Christian World Liberation Front - One of three founding fathers of the Christian World Liberation Front (CWLF) on the Berkeley campus of the University of California in 1969. A former statistics professor and Campus Crusade worker, Sparks felt the need to begin a campus outreach to left-wing student activists. In 1975 he and a number of other Campus Crusade members made the move into the Eastern Orthodox church. Most recently he has worked on the Orthodox Study Bible while continuing to teach at St. Athanasius Academy.
Linda Meissner and the Jesus People Army - Former staff worker with David Wilkerson's Teen Challenge program, Meissner founded the Jesus People Army (JPA) in Seattle in response to having vision of "thousands of youths marching for Jesus." After opening a number of outreaches in other areas in the Pacific Northwest basin, the JPA dissolved when she threw her support to the Children of God who took her with them to England. Disillusioned with her decision, she left the group and settled in Denmark.
Jim Palosaari and the Milwaukee Jesus People - Saved at a tent revival meeting in 1969, Palosaari and his wife Sue joined Linda Meissner's Seattle outreach before venturing off to begin a similar outreach in the Midwest in 1971. After growing to approximately 200 members, the Milwaukee Jesus People split into four groups with Palosaari's crew (The Jesus Family) settling in England. While there, the group staged the Lonesome Stone rock musical and founded the annual Greenbelt Music Festival. Returning to the United States, Palosaari established another community in Oregon called the Highway Missionary Society from which the rock group Servant originated. After HMS disbanded, Palosaari continued to work in the CCM business.
Scott Ross and Love Inn - Seeing the powerful but destructive force rock music could generate from his vantage as a former celebrity disc-jockey, Scott Ross desired to impact teenagers by combining the attractive elements of rock music with positive spiritual messages. In 1968 Ross approached CBN owner Pat Robertson with his vision from which the first Christian rock radio program, Tell It Like It Is, was born. In 1969 Ross opened a community called Love Inn in Freeville, New York where they established a Jesus paper (Free Love) and a record label (New Song) around the talents of guitarist Phil Keaggy. By 1979 Ross left the community to become more involved in the Discipleship movement. By the mid-1980s he returned to CBN where he continues to work.
Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel - Frustrated by church growth contests and recruitment techniques, in 1965 Smith took over as pastor of a tiny congregation in Costa Mesa, California. While watching hippies gather at Huntington Beach he and his wife were moved to find some way to reach these lost youth with the gospel. In 1968 Smith recruited Lonnie Frisbee and John Higgins to start a drug rehabilitation and commune called The House of Miracles. Smith's openness to the hippie culture sparked thousands of hippies to come to the church where he functioned as their father figure. Heavily influenced by premillennial interpretation of the Bible, Smith has become one of the leading figures of prophecy books and end-times publications selling thousands of copies of his various texts. Under his leadership, Calvary Chapel has spawned hundreds of similar churches and is cited as one of this half century's church growth phenomenons.
Ted Wise and the House of Acts community - Converted in 1966 Wise is remembered as the first street Christian converts of the ensuing Jesus People Movement. In 1967 he and his wife Liz (and three other couples) opened The Living Room mission in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Although in operation for only 18 months, the staffers suggested they talked with several thousand people. Wise and his group also came to live in community, taking the Acts' account of the early Christians as a literal guide. The resultant House of Acts community, the first Jesus commune of the movement, stood as a model for other similar communities that sprung up all across the continent. After this, Wise was recruited by Ray Stedman of Peninsula Bible Church (PBC) to work with drug addicts and open rehabilitation clinics. He remains affiliated to PBC to the present. (Read a recent interview with Ted)
Jim Durkin and Lighthouse Ranch - In the summer of 1970 while Jim Durkin was experiencing dissatisfaction with his ministry, he was approached by several Jesus People looking to begin an evangelistic ministry to the hippies. Though initially hesitant, Durkin allowed the young group access to one of his apartment complexes helping them establish a coffeehouse outreach program. As the ministry blossomed they looked to him for leadership. He acquired an abandoned coast guard station eleven miles outside of Eureka, California allowing the young Christians to use this as their new home.
Gospel Outreach Lighthouse Ranch, Table Bluff Road in Loleta, CA
They dubbed it the Lighthouse Ranch. By 1972 the group had grown to between 250 - 300 active members. Under Durkin's oversight the group began to send out church planting teams all over the world eventually calling their growing organization Gospel Outreach. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gospel Outreach (GO) continued to send out missionary teams including successful campaigns in Mendocino (California), Germany, Nicaragua, and Hawaii. With 100 affiliated churches worldwide the Gospel Outreach network is one of three denominational legacies of the Jesus People Movement.
Victor Paul Wierwille - A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and ordained in the United Church of Christ. Believing that much of the Christian was in error, in 1955 Wierwille founded The Way to educate young men and women in the "correct way of biblical education." In 1968 Wierwille contacted and recruited two members of the first street Christian community in the Haight Ashbury, asking them to head up Way International training centers in California and New York. The Way International raised the ire of other Christian groups, labelled a "cult" because of their antitrinitarian views. One of the largest of all the extremist groups of the Jesus People movement, by the mid-1970s the organization boasted over 20,000 active members. Wierwille died in 1986 leaving The Way International in a state of disarray having to deal with financial mismanagement, accusations that he had plagiarized some of his writings, and sexual immorality.
Greg Laurie - In 1970 Greg Laurie was profoundly influenced by an encounter with hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee who was preaching on the lawn of Laurie's Newport Harbor High School. After this experience, Laurie was invited back to Calvary Chapel where in 1972 he was offered oversight over a congregation that had been nurtured by Frisbee at All Saints Episcopal Church in Riverside, California. Under Laurie's leadership the Harvest Christian Fellowship has blossomed into one of the flagships of the Calvary Chapel denomination. In 1990 Smith took his protege and began billing Laurie as the featured speaker for what has become the annual Harvest Crusade meetings. He is noted by some as being the "evangelist of the MTV generation."
Pat Boone & Duane Pederson
Duane Pederson and the Hollywood Free Paper - Originally a ventriloquist from Minnesota, Pederson moved to California and founded what became the most widely distributed underground Jesus newspaper of the movement called the Hollywood Free Paper. Used as a tool of evangelistic communication the paper's editors boasted that their largest circulated copy had a printing of 500,000 copies. Pederson wrote a number of books in the early 1970s while serving as pastor of a California congregation. In the mid-1980s he tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the Hollywood Free Paper and eventually followed former Jesus People associate Jack Sparks into the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Hal Lindsey - In 1970 Lindsey left Campus Crusade to begin the Jesus Christ Light and Power Company, a youth oriented ministry on the Los Angeles campus of the University of California (UCLA). Previous to this he had begun to compile a number of eschatologically based sermons publishing them under the title The Late Great Planet Earth later that year. The book became an overnight best seller hitting on a raw nerve of excitement concerning the close proximation of the second coming of Christ. With one eye on the Bible and one towards the daily news, Lindsey's book enchanted Christians into a wave of expectational end-times frenzy. Launched by the success of his first book, Lindsey was commissioned to begin writing others. In 1972 he published Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, a book based on the theme of worldwide satanic conspiracies. Lindsey has continued to be one of the leading experts of Biblical prophecy traveling throughout the world and continuing to be a popular conference speaker.
Bethel Tabernacle - One of the obscure hippie churches to gain notoriety during the intense media frenzy in 1971. Drawn into the movement when Pastor Lyle Steenis recruited ex-drug addict Breck Stevens to be the church's evangelistic liaison to the counterculture. Although the church claimed that over 100,000 people passed through their doors, the congregation never grew to more than several hundred. After Steenis died in a plane crash in 1972, Stevens took over control of the church despite the protestations of Steenis' widow who may have realized that the young man lacked the necessary maturity. Though he led the church for another 14 years, Stevens committed suicide in 1986.
Toronto Catacombs - In 1968 Gord Morris and Don Rossiter desired to begin a Christian club on the campus of their Toronto high school. After approaching their music teacher who was also a Christian, they formed the Catacomb Club. By 1971 they had grown into a group of 850 and began meeting in St. Paul's Anglican Church where they held a Thursday night 'Praise and Worship Celebration' that at its peak attracted 2,500 enthusiastic teenagers. The core group eventually spawned a church that lasted into the late 1980s.
Explo '72 - Billed as the "Spiritual Woodstock" or "Godstock," the Campus Crusade sponsored event featured a number of evangelical leaders and Jesus Music performers in a week long campaign (May 12-17). Featured artists were Love Song, Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. The week was closed with a sermon by Billy Graham who had recently penned a book affirming his allegiance with "The Jesus Generation."
John Higgins and the Shiloh Youth Revival Centers Organization - Saved in 1966 after reading the Bible in an effort to disprove it, the former New Yorker started attending the fledgling Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. Along with Lonnie and Connie Frisbee, John and his wife Jackie were asked to be the elders of the very first House of Miracles communal home in 1968. Under Higgins' leadership a number of other communities opened throughout the southwestern United States all subsequently dubbed The House of Miracles. While scouting some property up in Oregon, Higgins received a vision to move their various ministries north. Naming this first Oregon communal location 'Shiloh' after an Old Testament prophetic passage, the Shiloh Youth Revival Centers Organization (SYRCO) began planting other communal houses throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is estimated that from 1968 to 1978 the SYRCO established 178 locations although no more than 50 houses were in operation at one time. After charges of financial mismanagement and authoritarianism were brought up against Higgins in 1978, he was asked to leave the ministry. The SYRCO battled to stay afloat for the next several years but finally sold their remaining properties and closed operations in 1988. John Higgins moved to Arizona and is presently the pastor of a Calvary Chapel affiliate.
Kent Philpott - As a young pastor and student at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in 1967, Philpott felt compelled to begin evangelizing in the Haight Ashbury after hearing Scott McKenzie's song "San Francisco." Along with his wife he opened a number of communal houses and was a member of a Baptist organization called Evangelical Concerns which funded some of the street Christian activities in the area. Philpott is presently a pastor in the San Francisco Bay area.
David Hoyt - A member of the Krishna temple when first approached by evangelist Kent Philpott in the Haight Ashbury, Hoyt had a powerful conversion experience and worked towards opening numerous Christian communes. In 1970 he moved to Atlanta and opened Upper Streams and the House of Judah before being the first Jesus People leader to align with the Children of God. Hoyt left the COG after their exodus to Europe. While in England he teamed up with former Milwaukee Jesus People leader Jim Palosaari and his crew. Hoyt is currently writing a book about his experiences.
Don Williams and the Salt Company Coffeehouse - Having just obtained his doctorate from Columbia University, Williams became the youth pastor of Hollywood First Presbyterian Church. Feeling a "Call to the Streets" (the title of a book he wrote on his experiences in the JPM), he began a coffeehouse ministry called the Salt Company where many notable Jesus Musicians played. The church also sponsored a Jesus paper and a couple of communal homes for new converts. Wrote a book on his experiences called "Call to the Streets." After the JPM he taught at Claremont MacKenna College before becoming involved in the Vineyard movement.
Connie Frisbee - While living at a number of hippie communities, Connie became acquainted with and eventually married Lonnie Frisbee. In 1968 they became the fifth couple to live at the House of Acts community in Novato, California where she helped out with the daily routines of making soup and preparing the storefront mission for the regular stream of guests. Though the two were divorced in 1973, Connie remarried and is presently living in Auburn where she shares her experiences with troubled youth.
Sandi Heefner, Judy Doop, Liz Wise, and Sandy Sands - The wives of the four men who organized and ran The Living Room storefront mission in the Haight Ashbury and The House of Acts (the first countercultural Christian community of the revival). Although Ted Wise usually gets credit for being the first convert of the Jesus People Movement, it was Liz's going back to church which really began the desire to search the Bible. Like many unsung participants of the Jesus People Movement, these four women deserve credit for doing the behind the scenes work at The Living Room and House of Acts.
Kathryn Kuhlman - A charismatic healing evangelist who briefly embraced the Jesus People as they became front page news. Kuhlman befriended a number of converted hippies from Calvary Chapel and was convinced to do a number of her "I Believe in Miracles" television shows with them as the main guests.
Edward E. Plowman - As editor of Christianity Today, Plowman was one of the first to report on the emerging 'street Christians,' and follow through with many subsequent stories and editorials on the Jesus People as they progressed into a movement.
Glenn Kaiser - Was a young hippie blues guitarist in Milwaukee when he made contact and subsequently joined a community of Jesus People while they were holding revival meetings in the early 1970s. Was the focal musician in one of the community's two rock bands (named Charity) which eventually was renamed Resurrection Band. After two custom cassette projects the band released their first album entitled Awaiting Your Reply in 1978. Beyond his duties as lead guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist for the band, Kaiser has been an uncompromising voice within the CCM industry and larger evangelical movement. Still serves as a pastor to the Jesus People USA community in downtown Chicago, Illinois where the Jesus People Movement continues.
Martin Meyer 'Moishe' Rosen - While in California as the leader of a missionary organization to Jewish people, Rosen befriended a number of Jewish hippie converts in the late 1960s. He subsequently founded the Jews for Jesus organization which gained a lot of media attention in the early 1970s for their confrontational style of evangelism.
David Rose - Young charismatic hippie who converted and was later influenced by Jack Sparks of the Christian World Liberation Front. Compelled by a vision to open a mission to teenagers in the midwest, he returned to Kansas and opened the House of Agape. By the early 1970s their efforts had spawned a well attended church out of which came the music of Paul Clark and The Hallelujah Joy Band. After joining a mission team to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Rose ventured to Israel where he functioned as the church's overseas missionary for a number of years. Rose presently runs a successful Hollywood video production company.
Mario Murillo - Pastor who directed Resurrection City, a Pentecostal styled ministry and outreach geared towards presenting the gospel to radical activist leaders at the University of California at Berkeley campus. His ministry continues today and he also has a popular bible study on Christian TV.
Top 50 Collectible Jesus Music Albums of All Time
It could be argued that the synthesis of popular music and the gospel stems back as far as the Great Reformer, Martin Luther who queried as to 'why the devil should be allowed to have all the good tunes?' The genesis of blues, soul and black gospel styles all have their roots in the music of early black work songs which were by nature overtly spiritual. Though the rock'n'roll music of this generation has degenerated taking on the perverse themes of nihilism, permissiveness, and violence, there is evidence to support the claim that rock music was given its formative impulses from rudimentary spirituality. Thus, when you hear Larry Norman lament that 'rock'n'roll music originated in the church' you can rest assure that he is correct.
In the late '60s when rock music became the voice of the burgeoning youth populace the rock media tended to focus on the shocking stories of those pushing the envelope of experience. Although many were offering positive messages, the deaths of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon and others were much more news-worthy. Though the music of the late '60s is more remembered for its anti-establishmentary themes, there were a gamut of musicians who spoke of salvation through another means.
The Jesus People Movement among the counterculture hippies was the background from which most of the following albums emerged. Though the production is at times not up to present standards, the spirit behind the music indicates a freshness and verve that capture the essence of experiential Christianity.
The following is an admittedly subjective list of Jesus Music albums. This list concentrates on roughly a 15 year period (1965 - 1980), so there are some collectible CCM lps that obviously won't be included. Albums were picked for both their quality and their market value. Thus, if your favorite album doesn't appear, please remember this reflects my personal tastes more than anything else. It is my hope that you will find some (or all. . . good luck) of these gems in your searching. They represent a formative time that many CCM fans know little or nothing about. I hope you are enriched by this music as I have been over the years. Maranatha! - David Di Sabatino
Agape - Victims of Tradition (Renrut, 1972)
I am admittedly biased on placing this one first (seeing as we are responsible for reissuing both of Agape's albums on CD), but it definitely deserves to be here. This is the 2nd of Agape's lps and is a more progressive lp than the first adding jazz keyboardist Jim Hess to the already tight musical lineup. Fred Caban on lead guitar and vocals, Mike Jungman on drums and Jim Peckhart on bass make up the rest of the band.
Wilson McKinley - Spirit of Elijah (Voice of Elijah, 1973)
The members of Wilson McKinley were saved as the result of the ministry of Carl Parks, one of the leaders of the Jesus People Army in Seattle. The Jesus People Army was the vision of Linda Meissner, a former staff worker of David Wilkerson's Teen Challenge ministry, who saw 'an army of young people marching for Jesus.' While on crusade through the Pacific Northwest, the members of the band wandered into a park to heckle Carl Parks' preaching. They ended up becoming Christians and becoming the JPA band. Though the quality is admittedly sub-par, the band has elements of the west-coast guitar scene.
Randy Stonehill - Get Me Out of Hollywood (Phonogram, 1973)
In this list because of its absolute scarcity. In 1973, or thereabouts, Randy left California to search out a recording contract in England. He recorded this over there and scrapped it just before release. The story is that most of the copies were destroyed, but a few survived and are floating around out there. Album includes the song 'Vegetables' which ended up being included in the Lonesome Stone Musical performed by The Sheep over in England as a part of Jim Palosaari's wandering Jesus People group. Good luck finding copies of this album.
All Saved Freak Band - Brainwashed (Rock the World, 1975)
Interesting story. This was a communal group of Jesus freaks from Ohio who revolved around the leadership of Larry Hill and included former lead guitarist for Pacific Gas & Electric, Glenn Schwarz. The group became intensely prophetic and apocalyptic, believing that their group was the sole remnant of Christianity. The band had 3 other albums, one of which also appears on this list.
Out of Darkness - same (Key, 1970)
English band sounding very much like Jimi Hendrix. A live CD of their music was just reissued by Plankton Records in England called the Celebration Sessions.
Azitis - Help (Elco, 1971)
Water Into Wine Band - Harvest Time
Don't know a heck of a whole lot about this band or this album except that it is English folk rock and was sold solely at the first Greenbelt festival in 1972. It now sells for over $750. By virtue of its price alone it merits inclusion in this list. Yikes!
Larry Norman - Street Level (One Way, 1971)
One of the three albums he and Stonehill recorded with the money given to One Way by Pat Boone. There are two different versions of this lp (and numerous different label and numerical permutations). The more rare version is the 'Gold Label Underground Edition' which has songs from the musical 'Lion's Breath.' The more common version includes one side of a live concert recorded at Hollywood's First Presbyterian Church which ran a nightclub called the Salt Company. Larry got into some trouble with the hierarchy of the church after singing the song 'Right Here in America.'
Harvest Flight - One Way (Destiny, 1971)
Led by Evan Williams, who later went on to be in Phoenix Sonshine. Album includes excellent rendition of then popular 'One in the Spirit' (". . .and they'll know we are Christians by our love.").
The Exkursions - same (custom, 1971)
Chicago based psychedelic blues band with heavy fuzz guitar sound. Led by Mike Johnson who later went on to record solo projects and even earn songwriter of the year award. Band broke up because the other two members wavered in their faith. Since a number of sealed copies were unearthed last year, the value has gone down.
Earthen Vessel - Hard Rock / Everlasting Life (NRS, 1970)
Hard rock garage band with heavy fuzz guitar and female lead vocals.
Wilson McKinley - Heaven's Gonna Be A Blast (Voice of Elijah, 1973)
Their first real studio album after two earlier releases that were rather low budget. The group became Christians almost en masse when Linda Meissner's Jesus People Army troupe set up an evangelistic rally in High Bridge Park in Spokane. The group became the musical arm of evangelist Carl Parks' Voice of Elijah community.
Last Call of Shiloh - same (Last Call, 1969)
Affiliated with the Jesus People Army group out of Idaho. This release is among the earliest Jesus rock albums.
Randy Stonehill - Born Twice (One Way, 1971)
Released along with Larry Norman's Street Level and the Son Worshipers soundtrack on a very low budget. Three versions exist of this album. The most common one includes the song 'Christmastime' which is a cut tempo of the same song that Larry included on So Long Ago The Garden. The more rare version includes 'He is A Friend of Mine' instead of 'Christmastime' which is a lyrically altered version of a Byrds tune. The final and most rare version is a mispressing which has the same live concert pressed on both sides.
The Sheep - Jeesus Rock (Finnlevy, 1972)
The original Milwaukee Jesus People group split into three camps; the Jesus People USA (Resurrection Band), Bill Lowery's 'Christ is the Answer' ministry and a group that went over to Europe to evangelize. The Sheep were involved in the latter group and recorded this first album in less than 12 hours. Some songs are actually sung in Finnish. Very hard to find.
All Saved Freak Band - My Poor Generation (Rock the World, 1973)
Their first lp dedicated to two members of the Church of the Risen Christ community (Randy Markko and Tom Miller) who died in a car crash on the way to a concert.
Vindication - same (custom, 1974)
Trio of high school students doing what is referred to as 'monster rock.' A company in the Midwest is putting this album out on CD and reissuing it on vinyl.
Agape - Gospel Hard Rock (Mark, 1971)
Their first lp with a more straight ahead blues rocking feel. Only a trio at this juncture.
Mustard Seed - same (Spectrum, 1971)
Larry Norman - same (Starstorm/Rhema, 1977)
This album is actually one of his that is worth the hunt. Released only in Australia (on either Starstorm or Rhema labels) it has different versions to some of the songs from 'So Long Ago The Garden' and a long version of If God is My Father.
Phil Keaggy - Love Broke Thru (New Song, 1976)
Jointly produced by Michael Omartian and Buck Herring it is a much more aggressive album than Keaggy's first release. The album contains the studio version of the most requested Keaggy composition entitled 'Time' and includes the first recorded version of the classic song 'Love Broke Through' which was penned by Keith Green, Randy Stonehill, and Todd Fishkind.
Joshua - same (Impact, 1973)
Good hard rock with some more mellow moments. Includes a great cover of Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready."
Larry Norman - Bootleg (One Way, 1973)
Double album with many various label colors and numbers. An odd collection of songs and interview sessions that capture the essence of the Jesus movement and Larry's role.
The Sheep - same (Myrrh UK, 1973)
Their second release, this group was one of the two bands to emerge from the Milwaukee Jesus People group (the other was Resurrection Band). The Sheep were under the leadership of Jim Palosaari's group which headed overseas to Europe to evangelize throughout Finland, Sweden, and eventually in England where they produced and performed the musical Lonesome Stone.
Wilson McKinley - On Stage (custom, 1971)
This album goes for a lot of money because of its scarcity, but its production quality is really poor. Apparently, unbeknownst to the band, their manager recorded the concert on a cheap tape recorder and later released it without any further mixing.
Ron and Bill Moore - Lo and Behold (Martin, 1969)
Included here because it is probably the very first indigenous Jesus music album ever recorded. Ron went on to record a number of his own albums on his homespun label Airborn. He also produced and helped a number of other artists get their start in Christian music such as Mark Heard whose original album was also released on Airborn.
The Son Worshipers Soundtrack (One Way, 1972)
This is the soundtrack for a movie piecemealed together by Bob Cording and Weldon Hardenbrook and distributed through Larry Norman's One Way label. It is a half hour documentary of the Jesus People Movement featuring interview footage, some great moments on campus at University of California at Berkeley, some Calvary Chapel scenes shot of the early days at Calvary Chapel. The movie includes footage of Jack Sparks (of the Christian World Liberation Front), Duane Pederson (of the Hollywood Free Paper), the preaching of Os Guinness, some interview footage of Jesus freak evangelist Lonnie Frisbee interspersed with some music. The soundtrack is taken verbatim from the movie and is not worth the money that people are asking, but it is somewhat collectible.
Resurrection Band - Awaiting Your Reply (Star Song, 1978)
One of the best releases from the Chicago based musical band of the Jesus People USA community. The band was originally called Charity but changed its name to Resurrection Band in the late stages of 1972 after the four-way split of the original Milwaukee Jesus People community led by Jim Palosaari. The JPUSA community still lives in Chicago doing very much the same things that they were doing back in 1972.
Fraction - Moonblood (Angelicus, 1971)
This is an absolute killer album! If you can get a hold of a taped copy you will absolutely be blown away. When copies come up for sale in collector's circles they go for over $1500.
Overland Stage - same (Epic, 1972)
A group of North Dakota Jesus freaks who were slammed by Rolling Stone in their first record review and were never heard from again.
Jesus People - Live at the Hollywood Palladium (Creative Sound, 1972)
Includes a couple of live tunes by JC Power Outlet and the Morning Star Gospel Rock Band. The concert from which some of these tunes were taken from was put on by Duane Pederson and the folks behind the Hollywood Free Paper.
Arthur Blessitt and the Eternal Rush - Soul Session at His Place (Creative Sound, 1972)
A kitschy album of rock music from the Eternal Rush (a band made up of ex-dopers) and sermonizing from Arthur Blessitt, the self-proclaimed minister of the Sunset Strip.
Agape - Live in 1973 (Renrut, 1973) 8-track only
Not too many people are aware that this even exists. . . but it does. If you got an 8-track player and you can find a copy, then you have something that not too many people own.
Jeremy Spencer & Children of God (CBS, 1972)
Former guitarist with Fleetwood Mac just up and left the band one night in Los Angeles. When the members finally found him, Jeremy had changed his name and joined the radical cult group who emerged from a Teen Challenge coffeehouse in Huntington Beach. Spencer still does all the group's music and has released number of COG projects over the years.
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet (Verve, 1972)
The most popular of all CCM albums ever released. Low on this list because of its availability.
All Saved Freak Band - Sower (War Again, 1980)
The final record released by the ASFB although it was recorded much earlier. By 1980 the group's apocalyptic views had forced their retreat from any contact with mainstream society. In the commentary included with the album the group outlines the five visions that group leader Larry Hill had received between 1965 and 1971 about the impending end-time war which would come as divine judgment upon America because of her sins. By the release of this album, the group had disbanded due to internal conflicts concerning overly excessive child discipline and authoritarian leadership. Hill and a few remaining members are still located on the church's property in Orwell, Ohio.
Paul Clark - Good to Be Home (Seed, 1975)
This album just sounds like they were having a good time recording it. Includes Phil Keaggy.
Larry Norman - Upon This Rock (Capitol, 1969)
Reported to be the first Jesus rock lp in existence, but there are a couple of lps that predate it. It also must be stated that Larry Norman was not the only one doing Jesus rock at the time, but he did have the widest exposure because of his contract with Capitol. And, to be fair, his music effectively captured the essence of those days. The album stands as one of the great legacies of the Jesus People Movement.
Because I Am - same (Clear Light, 1973)
A various artist album including a band called the 'e' band which featured future Petra singer Greg Volz.
The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert Maranatha! Music, 1971)
The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert Maranatha! Music, 1971) The very first record that Maranatha! Music, a subsidiary company of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, ever released. Maranatha!'s first two recordings (The Children of the Day's first album being the other one) initially sold 25,000 copies propelling the company into worldwide prominence in the area of contemporary Christian music. Musically, many of the Maranatha! groups patterned themselves after the stylistic lead of Love Song which was laid-back country rock sound although there were some exceptions (i.e. the jazz-rock of Sweet Comfort or the unique sound of the Children of the Day). Maranatha! Music also stressed the equation of music and ministry as more of an emphasis than the exploration of artistic creativity.
Love Song - Feel the Love (Good News, 1977)
Double lp released after the band had broken up. Between 1971 and 1976 Love Song was the most popular of all the Jesus music bands obtaining a lot of exposure with their allegiance to Calvary Chapel.
About the Movement
Bell-Bottoms + Bible = Jesus Freak
created by Tracy Allen
“What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak. What will people do when they find that it's true. I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak. There ain't no disguising the truth” (DC Talk 1995). Jesus Freak is a term that is derived from a movement of Christianity that swept across America in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This movement is called “the Jesus Movement;” and it’s people are known as the “Jesus People,” “Street Christians,” and “Jesus Freaks” (Enroth, Ericson, & Peters 9-14). What was the Jesus Movement about; and how did it grow into a national movement? Why did it occur? What impact did this movement have; and what can be learned from it?
Sydney E. Ahlstrom of Yale University said, “the decade of the sixties, in short, was a time when the old grounds of not only historic Western theism were awash, but also the older forms of national confidence and social idealism.” In fact, he continues to say the sixties would be seen as a decisive turning point in American history (Ahlstrom 100-103). In this, Ahlstrom was right. The decade of the sixties experienced a great deal of social, political, and religious upheaval like none before. Some of the issues that drew the nation to it’s turning point included the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam Conflict, Student Rights Movement, Ecology Movement, and the decline in church attendance among others (Jorstad 38). The Civil Rights Movement was the struggle of blacks to gain equality in jobs, housing, transportation, and other areas including an end to segregation. In 1964 and 1965, the U.S. government passed two acts protecting the rights of black Americans. Still, this did not end the personal bigotry that many experienced and unrest continued (39).
While this struggle continued, America found itself in another international conflict. This was the Vietnam Conflict. The start of the war in Vietnam did not receive much opposition due to the fact that most Americans saw the Conflict as a battle against communism (39). Eventually, however, activism against the war began due to the stance that this was not a war against Communism at all; but instead, it was a civil war between two people groups in a foreign country that America was unrelated to. Thus, an Anti-War Movement began that led to more political and social unrest (40).
Two other movements on the scene at the time were the Student Rights Movement and Ecology Movement. These movements were spawned mostly by high school and college students who were trying to voice their opinions about the state of society. The Student Rights Movement focused on removing censorship from school campuses by the administration on such things as newspapers and on-campus publications (Hefner para 4-7). Other issues such as curriculum relevancy and abolishing rules regarding conduct were also part of the agenda (Jorstad 42). The Ecology Movement was centered on preserving the environment for future generations and feeding the hungry (43).
In addition to these movements, the church was in a state of confusion and decline. Congregation members were unsure of which view was correct and church leaders offered little direction. The 1960’s marked the churches attempt at maintaining relevance to the youth culture. In the early 60’s, churches tried to reach out to the culture however they saw fit. Unfortunately, by the late 1960’s, the large financial supporters in churches were cutting back due to this move toward relevance (44). According to Gallup polls from 1971, thirty-one percent of people polled said religion wasn’t important anymore. Also, eighteen percent of those polled said church was not meeting their needs anymore (Davis & Gallup 48).
It was obvious, by this time, that a cultural shift was taking place. People saw a need for change in American society; yet, the church, which had always been the mode to exact change, was falling short. There were no evangelists leading the way. Even Billy Graham had begun to loose the interest of the young people by the early 70’s (43-50). In addition, polls showed that the majority of churches were unwilling to change in liturgy, doctrine, or social involvement (68-91). In fact, the church as a whole had placed its focus on meeting the needs of the newly formed suburban neighborhoods in the 1950’s. This left the urban areas practically untouched by the church and masses of people with few choices (Gonzalez 380). Holiness churches in the urban areas tried to reach these masses; but their attempts were to no avail. The subculture of hippies and others in the “free love” generation lost connection with Christianity and traditional religion (380).
Therefore, although the need for revival was high in America (especially among young adults and youth), it seemed that there was no foundation for it in the “free love” generation. Yet, there were numerous signs of revival outside of the church that were beginning to spread across the country (Jorstad 45). In fact, there was a foundation for revival. That foundation was the new culture itself. According to Theodore Roszak in his book “The Making of a Counter Culture,” the young people of the 60’s and 70’s may have started looking for political and social change. But, what they were really looking for more than that. They were searching for something beyond reason and intellect. What they were actually looking for was a transformation of self, others, and the environment (Roszak 49). This transformation was sought through feeling, passion, and visionary experiences (124-125).
At first, the primary means for obtaining this transformation was drugs and hallucinogens. But eventually, the use of drugs declined due to the realization of their ill effects and lack of providing true salvation (Enroth, Ericson, & Peters 226). The next phase in the search for transformation was looking for salvation. Some found what they were looking for in Eastern Mysticism and/or Indian folklore, while others found their salvation in Jesus (227). Those that found Jesus in their quest for transformation are the driving force behind what is called the Jesus Movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. This movement so saturated the culture that in June of 1971 it graced the cover of time magazine and was called The Jesus Revolution (10).
The Jesus Movement is classically characterized by long hair, bell bottom wearing, tract delivering, finger to the sky pointing, Christian young adults on the late 1960’s and 70’s. But, in truth, the Jesus Movement is more than just that. Although there is no particular reference that is considered to have triggered the whole of the Jesus Movement, there is one common starting point. In San Francisco within the Haight-Ashbury district, a hub of counterculture had formed. It was in this district that Ted Wise and his wife began evangelizing a group of hippies in late 1966 (12). Soon, Steve Heefner, a disc jockey friend of Wise’s, accepted Jesus. Two other friends of Wise named Jim Doop and Danny Sands, also became a Christians. Sands was so impressed by the biblical story of the rich young ruler that he sold everything and drove up and down the coast of California until he and his family eventually moved in with Wise and his wife. In the following year, this group of people started a coffeehouse in the Haight-Ashbury district in order to evangelize the area. In the two years that the coffeehouse was opened, somewhere between 30,000 to 50,000 young people heard the message of the gospel. It was these 30,000 to 50,000 people that have been said to have started the nationwide spread of the Jesus Movement (13).
Eventually, all of the families moved in together beginning the first known communal living situation of the time. The doors to the commune were open to anyone who would be open to hearing the gospel. After some time, Lonnie Frisbee who was one of the members of the commune felt the Lord calling him to start a ministry in California (14). So, he and his wife moved down to California where they met John Higgins. John wanted to do the exact same thing as Frisbee; so, they rented a house together in Costa Mesa, CA. Calling it the House of Acts, they opened it up for communal living and history began to repeat itself (14).
Others from the Wise’s commune, such as Heefner and Doop, were recruited to join other ministries nationwide. Heefner and Doop joined the Way Ministries. Wise began a drug rehabilitation program. Higgins and others moved to the Pacific Northwest to plant new communal living sites (14). Higgins communal living complexes were some of the most notable in the Northwest and were called Shiloh communes. Over time, the Shiloh communes numbered 37, which sent out countless others to spread the gospel and restart the cycle again (14).
This is the common testimony of the era, hippies being evangelized by hippies, moving into a communal living situation, and continuing the process of evangelism. However, there was one large group in the movement that did not go the route of communal living and that’s the Calvary Chapel. Instead, Calvary Chapel desired to affect change within the church and culture while remaining true to capitalism (Jesus Movement para 5). Therefore, they opened homes for hippies to live in, but encouraged them to become working members of society based on biblical principles (Calvary Chapel para 5).
Common ground exists in the areas of emphasis within the movement. First and foremost, the movement is centered on Jesus Christ (Graham 16). Just like Paul, these radical believers wanted to simplify their lives by concentrating on Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and the resurrection (16-17). Also, Jesus People all believed in the necessity of evangelism and discipleship. The Great Commission was one of the most important verses of the movement and inspired the desire for evangelism and discipleship along with (19-20).
One more area of common ground is the acceptance of everyone before the Lord regardless of look, race, social stance, political affiliation, or any other thing. This movement accepts all as they are, believing that it is possible to love and disciple people into who they are called to be. It is cited as a movement that “cuts across nearly all social dividing lines” by Time Magazine (The Jesus Revolution, para 11).
In addition, the movement centers around people having a personal experience with Jesus. These believers stress having a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. According to Jesus Freaks, it is after this encounter that one is truly considered a Christian, having themselves been born again (Graham 17). It is a movement that’s been characterized as having a Bible focus. These Christians saw the Bible as their source for all answers. In fact, Life Magazine said these Christians irrefutably believed that the Bible was true (17). Jesus People were concerned with maintaining purity and faithfulness as well (18-19).
It also placed a large emphasis on the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ believing that Christ could return at any hour and time was short. Also, Life magazine says that these “Street Christians” held the stance that miracles still happen (17). The final foundation of the Jesus Movement is it’s focus on the Holy Spirit. The believers of the movement insisted that the Holy Spirit lives inside of the believer in order to guide and direct their every step. He (the Holy Spirit) is also seen as the source for what will eventually be termed “power evangelism” (18). It is these foundations that have made a lasting impact on American church theology today. Throughout the course of the movement, Jesus People reintegrated into many different churches and denominations in the U.S. as communal living declined. As a result, the foundational beliefs of the Jesus Movement have saturated modern church thought and culture (Di Sabatino a 3). As a side note, there is only one Christian commune that is popular today. It is called Jesus People U.S.A. and is located in Chicago, Illinois with 500 people residing (Jesus People U.S.A. para. 1).
Another major impact that the Jesus Movement has had is in the area of music. Worship music in churches now called “Hip Churches” moved away from hymns of old and into a new music style often called Maranatha Music. Plus, CCM Magazine says the Contemporary Christian Music Industry originated from the Jesus Movement (PRNewsWire para 6). Today’s Contemporary Christian Music industry boasts claims to 8 percent of the billion-dollar music marketplace (Di Sabatino a 3). Some of the most influencial artists that hailed from the movement include Ron Moore, Love Song, John Fischer, Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Agape, the All Saved Freak Band, and late-comer Keith Green (Di Sabatino c para 5).
The music industry itself also testifies to the theological shift in American Christian culture. According to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, Americans Christian Music industry differs from much of the globe as far as content is concerned (Powell 17). American lyrics deal with primarily with matters such as having a personal private relationship with Jesus, scripture, personal morality, and emotion and faithfulness (18). All of these theological premises were foundational to the Jesus Movement (18).
One other impact that has had numerous effects in and of itself is the return to Pentecostal thought. Although some in the Jesus Movement would say that they most definitely are not Pentecostal, the theological foundations of the Jesus Movement stirred many in expecting the manifest Gifts of the Spirit (Enroth, Ericson, & Peters 227). As cited early, the Jesus People believed in the Holy Spirit being given to the believer. They also believed in having a Bible-based faith and expecting miracles. It was these core beliefs that led many from the Jesus Movement into a form of Pentecostalism later called the Second Wave (The Third Wave para. 1).
In the 1980’s, a group of people from Calvary Chapel in Southern California chose to form their own church. It was first started in the home of their pastor, John Wimber. His reason for forming this new congregation was to see the Gifts of the Spirit released in the Body of Christ and moving actively in evangelism (VineyardUSA para.3-4). He was one of the Jesus People and believed the move of the Spirit would be a key tool in saving the lost at the time (Di Sabatino b 10). Eventually, this small group grew into one of the largest church planting movements in the nation called The Vineyard.
From the mid 1980’s until approximately 1996, the global body of Pentecostals and Charismatics experienced a renewal of the Spiritual Gifts like none seen since the Azusa Street revival of the early 1900’s. This was renewal was termed the Third Wave (The Third Wave para. 2). Today, the Vineyard church which was started by a Jesus Freak has more than 650 churches in the U.S. and 850 worldwide (VineyardUSA para.6). Other notable impacts include the growth of parachurch organizations, campus ministries, and the subsequent spread of the movement to the UK (Di Sabatino c 13).
In conclusion, the Jesus Movement found its roots in the upheaval of America’s social and political foundations in the 1950’s to 1960’s. These great upheavals were led by a subculture of young people, both high school and college age that were looking for transformation. The transformation that they sought was not merely on these platforms, but also, on personal levels of self-discovery, environmental change, and affecting others around them. Drugs became the first method of transformation; however, drugs were soon replaced with a desire to find something more than themselves called salvation. Some of these young people found the salvation they sought in Jesus and spread the news of the Gospel like wildfire sweeping the great forest of the U.S.. This great fire dubbed the Jesus Movement sparked a new form of worship music and the Contemporary Christian Music industry. It also brought back a renewing in Pentecostal thought and the things of the Spirit, which led to the Third Wave Movement.
Copyright 2006 Tracy Allen Student at Eugene Bible College
Ahlstrom, Sydney E. “The Moral and Theological Revolution of the 1960’s and it’s Implications for American Religious History.” The State of American History. Ed. Herbert Bass. New York: Quadrangle, 1970.
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Davis, John O. and George Gallup, ed. “Religion in America.” The Gallup Opinion Index, April 1971: Report No. 70.
Di Sabatino, David. “Jesus People are Gone but Their Legacy Lives On.” The Endeavour. May/June 1995: 3.
Di Sabatino, David. “Jesus People: The '60s Intriguing Offspring.” Christian Week. Feb. 14, 1995: 10.
Di Sabatino, David. “The History of the Jesus Movement.” Ottawa Citizen. June 1995: Ottawa Citizen Ministries Online Archive.
Enroth, Ronald M., Edward Ericson, and C. Breckinridge Peter. “The Jesus People: Old Time Religion in the Age of Aquarius.” San Francisco: Eerdmans, 1972.
Gonzales, Justo. “The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day.” vol. 2 New York: Harper Collins, 1985.
Graham, Franklin. “The Jesus Generation.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971.
Hefner, Keith. “The Movement for Youth Rights: 1945-2000.” Social Policy Magazine Spring 1998: Highbeam Research Article Archive Online.
"Jesus Movement." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 6 Jun 2006, 06:52. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Jun 2006 .
Jesus People U.S.A. “About Us.” 2006. Online. 6 June 2006, 1:25. http://www.jpusa.org/
Jorstad, Erling. “That New-Time Religion.” Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1972.
Powell, Mark Allan. “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music.”Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.
PRNewswire. “CCM Magazine Launches Brazilian Edition: Includes Origin of Industry.” CCM. 14 July 1998.
Roszak, Theodore. “The Making of a Counter Culture.” New York: Doubleday, 1969.
Vineyard USA. “The History of the Vineyard.” 2006. Online. 6 Jun 2006, 12:57. http://www.vineyardusa.org/about/history.aspx
"The Jesus Revolution." Time. 21 Jun 1971. 8 June 2006. http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,905202,00.html
"Third Wave of the Holy Spirit." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2 May 2006, 15:57. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Jun 2006. .
Jesus Freak by DC Talk song lyrics by Toby McKeehan and Mark Heimermann.
"For Real" Newspaper
- March 1971
You saw the LOOK magazine article (Feb. 9 issue) on The Jesus Movement, didn’t you? Did it send up a barrage of question marks? Questions like "Is it for real?" "What gives?"
The LOOK feature says that the West (southern California in particular) is caught up in a new thing. Jesus is rising. He’s the latest movement, the latest thing to groove on. It shows every sign of sweeping East and becoming a national thing. The basic message? "Turn on to Jesus."
Great! Great, I thought, if it’s for real. I live in Southern California. Why not go out to one of the churches mentioned and see for myself? I did. Would you believe I’ve been going back every chance I get?
Hey! Like wow! (That seems to be one of the expressions you hear a lot out there, by the way.) It’s just another way of saying what words alone can’t convey. It’s so great, so beautiful, so tremendous. And it's really real.
I went to Calvary Chapel which is astride the Santa Ana-Costa Mesa boundary. As I approached, across a wide open field I saw cars. Cars. And more cars. Good grief; I started looking for a place to park. Off in the distance I saw this chapel. Question: where do they put all these people? I wondered and was amazed.
Inside Calvary Chapel - 1971
People! Never before (at a church service) had I seen such an assortment of people. (And this was the third morning service!) Young. Old. Middle-aged. Bare feet. Boots. Long dresses, faded jeans, grubbies. Later I was to, hear "The Love Song," a musical group of five fellows, singing a song that described the scene perfectly. It went like this: "Long hair, short hair, some coats and ties. People finally coming around, looking past the hair and straight into each other’s eyes."
I'm not sure what I expected to find. I do know I honestly wondered if all the neat things I'd been hearing and reading could really be that neat. Right on! It was right on.
Like the music. The LOOK magazine article quoted the writer, Brian Vachon, as saying: "It was unquestionably the most remarkable week of my life. They had the best sounding music I've ever heard."
I'd read that and thought to myself: That guy's no doubt been around, afterall he is a writer for a national publication. Is he exaggerating? Well, he wasn't! They've got five of the greatest music groups you'll ever hear.
Singing by the people in the pews (and standing outside) was equally impressive. Speaking of standing outside... After my initial exposure on my first Sunday visit (morning and evening) I decided to go again on Wednesday night. They have Bible classes every night but I was told mid-week was a good time to go. "Come early," I was warned, “the meeting starts at seven ..." Some friends and I pulled up about ten of seven. We were in for the surprise of our lives !
The whole place was a swarm of faces. These were the "Jesus People." Their faces radiated that inner something that could be described as an absolute "high." There was standing room only outside -- a thousand or more people jammed together in the chill ocean air, shoulder to shoulder. The chapel (which seats 1,000) was completely encircled with people sitting and standing both inside and out. These were the "street Christians." Their love and zeal was clearly showing. Their conversation was punctuated with "Praise the Lord !"
Inside the Chapel, Lonnie Frisbee, bearded young ex-drug addict, now an evangelist, was seated on a stool on the platform. Debby was strumming her guitar and everyone was singing. Later, Lonnie led in a Bible study. This meeting would see 80 to 100 or more people responding to the reality of Jesus as The Way of life. This happening happens every night.
Lonnie and Debby at a Wed. night Bible study
One girl summed it up well: "Why are so many thousands of people flocking to Calvary? They aren't getting religion and church; they're seeing Jesus and the Bible and love."
Love. Yes, that was it. I felt it, too. Love bouncing off the walls! But the love doesn't just remain inside the place. These are a different brand of "activists." They sing, "They'll know we are Christians by our love," and then they go out and demonstrate it.
A spiritual fire is burning on the West Coast. I saw it. I heard the words that kindle the fire in individual hearts as it came from the lips of Pastor "Chuck" Smith. I wondered about him, too. What kind of a guy would a church like that have anyway? I figured he had to be somebody pretty special. Different somehow. I found out.
"Chuck" Smith is a very ordinary man (balding, with a dark fringe of black curly hair, 43, married, the father of four children) with extraordinary love, patience and understanding. Special alright in his ability to communicate for Christ as he reaches out tugging at heart strings. Special in his desire to be in the center of God's will with a smile that lights up his face. His morning sermons are based on ten Bible chapters assigned to the congregation for each week. Evening meetings are question-answer sessions on the same chapters. Beautiful! The open Bible in everyone’s hand. The "hungering and thirsting" being fed. Yes, this was different. This was New Testament Christianity in action.
Here I saw the cultural gap being bridged through a fellowship of love. (Can the "establishment" --tradition-bound adults --and non-institutional-minded young people worship and work together? Yes, when Christ is the Center, the common denominator drawing everyone together.
Who are the fellows and gals who sing in these rock musical groups? For the most part they have been involved in the "hippie" movement. They've experimented with drugs -- many of them have been heavy users and pushers. They've tried eastern philosophies, vegetarianism, and religious cults. Their quest for truth and spiritual fulfillment ended a long, restless, unfulfilling search when they became exposed to true Biblical teaching and submitted their lives and talents to Jesus Christ.
Most of them, like Chuck Girard started singing in high school groups. Chuck toured the U.S. with rock and roll shows about 1961-1962 and had two national hit records and released an album. The stories of Chuck and others like him are beautiful demonstrations of what happens when Jesus starts moving in a life. That's real "everlasting water" that satisfies. You maybe wondering, "What do you mean by that 'everlasting water' bit?" It's from the Bible. Jesus came to a village well in Sychar (in Galilee) and was thirsty. He approached a Samaritan woman drawing water and asked her for a drink. She was surprised that He, a Jew, would ask a "despised Samaritan" for anything, and she remarked about it.
Jesus replied, "If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask Me for some living water!”
Jesus replied that people soon became thirsty again after drinking that water. “But the water I give them,” He said, “becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life.” (From Living New testament John 4:1-26)
He then revealed to her that He was the Messiah -- the one prophesied about by her ancestors.
What does it take for this movement to sweep across the country? The Bible says: "It will come to pass that I will pour out My Spirit upon all of you!" (Joel 2:28 LIVING OLD TESTAMENT) . God's Spirit changing lives. Changed lives giving evidence of receiving Christ. A complete turn-about. Throwing down of drugs. Cleaned-up insides evidencing this in cleaned-up outsides. Same faces, but radiating. Same bodies, same clothes, same hair, but clean for Jesus.
And then, acceptance and compassion in the hearts of the adults who, far too often, criticize, show un-love, and who "put down" that which doesn't quite conform to the image of what they think Christians should be. Changed hearts needed here, too!
The love of God pouring through people. Hippie-type people. Straight-type people. Jesus People both, a giving out of the Christian message with cheerful dedication. Sure. Turning on to Jesus. You can read about Him in the Bible. You can hear about Him from the kids themselves. "Maranatha," they'll say. "What a way to go!"
This looks like the greatest spiritual "Turn-on" in the history of the country. And the kids are leading it. There's a new signal catching on too, these days. It's the forefinger pointed heavenward. "Only one way!" One way to go!
There's no estimating the magnitude of this new movement, but the Spirit of God is moving in a thrilling, exciting way. It appears that Southern California is being used as the launching pad. Look up, other states, Jesus is coming your way! And this is for real!
A brief history of the Jesus Movement
The phenomenon that captured nationwide press coverage in 1971 had begun as a quiet ripple in America's youth culture as far back as 1967, appearing simultaneously in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.
In many ways the spring and summer of 1967 was a bleak moment in America. Three astronauts were killed in the Apollo 1 explosion, and in Vietnam, American troops were moving into the Mekong Delta, and massing along the Cambodian border. Anti-war protests were escalating alongside the war itself, with draft card burnings, marches and other forms of demonstration on the rise. Black unrest was smoldering in cities across the nation in the wake of the Watts riots two years earlier.
In the narrow streets and gingerbread Victorian houses of the bohemian Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco (also simply called "The Haight"), a nameless but powerful youth-based counterculture had been born roughly the summer before and was gaining momentum. As young people arrived from the cities, suburbs and rural spaces of America for a "Human Be-In and Gathering of the Tribes" at the Polo Fields and Golden Gate Park, a Haight-Ashbury community of flower children began to self-organize around them. The Council for the Summer of Love, Happening House (a "university in the streets"), and an educational collective called Kiva were in the process of being formed along with a health center, the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic organized by physician David Smith.
One young Bay area couple, Ted and Liz Wise, then in their mid-twenties, were feeling a spiritual impulse, but each for a different reason. Ted, a Navy veteran and sailmaker, was interested in the possibility of a spiritual release from what had become for him an out-of-control involvement with the drug LSD. Liz began attending a local church in nearby Mill Valley in search of her childhood religious roots, and as a positive influence for the couple's two children. Before long the Wises became Christians, and as Ted recovered from his earlier drug abuse the couple began sharing their newfound faith with their friends.
Soon, they rented a rambling farmhouse in northern Marin county which they opened as a communal living space shared with three other young Christian couples and their children, and formed what is considered the first community of the fledgling Jesus Movement, the House of Acts. Life at the House was hard work and often beset with problems but, in Ted Wise's words, "better than church."
The Wises and the other couples from the House of Acts community provided the leadership for opening the first Jesus coffeehouse in the Haight, the Living Room, which opened in 1968 and ministered to the street people of the district for the next year and a half. The House of Acts members viewed this ministry in the Haight as their mission and "worked at odd jobs...like painting houses or digging ditches" to keep the doors open after local pastors provided "some of the means and all the respectability...needed to rent a storefront." The Living Room ministry, like the House of Acts, became "a greenhouse of fertile Christian ideas and growth" to the nascent community and both inspired and served as models for similar ministries across the United States.
A student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in nearby Mill Valley, Kent Philpott, was drawn to the Haight by a sympathy for the hippie ideal which grew out of his earlier interest in and attraction to the beatnik lifestyle of the 1950s. Philpott and David Hoyt, a former Hare Krishna devotee converted to Christianity by Philpott and Golden Gate classmate Timothy Wu, opened the Soul Inn not long after the Living Room, in facilities borrowed from the Lincoln Park Baptist Church. The Soul Inn was in operation for nearly a year, closing when the host Lincoln Park church was sold.
On and around the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, former Campus Crusade for Christ missionary Jack Sparks and several co-workers formed the Christian World Liberation Front or CWLF (later called the Berkeley Christian Coalition) and published one of the first Jesus People newspapers, Right On! (later re-named Radix).
Where much of the Jesus Movement including the Hollywood Free Paper was often criticized as simplistic and superficial, Sparks' group engaged UC Berkeley's radical intellectuals, presenting the peaceful "inner revolution" of Jesus as a rational alternative to violent political revolution. Sparks patterned his strategy after the then-popular radical movement the Third World Liberation Front, drawing up a strong 13-point manifesto of the CWLF's beliefs.
Further up the Pacific coast in Seattle, Washington, a young Iowa farm girl named Linda Meissner, pictured above with Duane Pederson, was organizing local teens to form a "Jesus People Army" after leaving Central Bible College, an Assembly of God school in Springfield, Missouri. Meissner's group organized quickly, and one of the early Movement newspapers, Agape, began under her leadership.
The Catacombs, a Jesus People coffeehouse, opened in 1969 near the Space Needle built for the 1962 World's Fair. Two Jesus People commune houses, the House of Caleb and House of Esther, were opened in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle's North End, an area thrown into chaos by the prolonged 1962 construction of Interstate 5 and searching for an identity. In 1970, the Eleventh Hour, a ministry to Seattle's street youth similar in concept to the Living Room in Haight-Ashbury, opened in a rented storefront at 1st and Madison near the waterfront in downtown Seattle.
The movement that evolved from these modest beginnings grew in new and creative ways, many of which lived on as the movement itself began to fade in the mid 1970s. The folk-rock music of the movement became a new and lasting form of contemporary worship that is still popular today. Aspects of the earlier 60's counterculture were adapted to the movement, including peaceful demonstrations, coffeehouses and communal living in what are today called intentional communities. "They played and preached on street corners, in parks, coffeehouses, and outdoor amphitheaters," author John Fischer recalls. "Even their baptisms were in common places where people were used to gathering."
Perhaps the most important legacy of the Jesus Movement was its return to the simple Gospel and the New Testament prototype of Christianity, centered in the life and teachings of Jesus and demanding a personal relationship with Him, placing a renewed emphasis on discipleship, evangelism and Bible study.
We have covered here only the early West Coast beginnings of a movement that lasted for several years and spread across North America and Europe. It would be impossible to chronicle such a widespread and varied movement in its entirety. In particular the many artists and songs that made up the music of the movement, from Larry Norman to 2nd Chapter of Acts to Agape and many others, have been described and catalogued much better elsewhere than we can here. For those interested in further study about the Movement, more extensive historical material on the Jesus People can be found in the following excellent sources:
Bozeman, John M., Jesus People USA: An Examination of an Urban Communitarian Religious Group: Florida State University, 1990.
Di Sabatino, David: A Little History: Mississauga, Ontario, 1997.
Di Sabatino, David, History of the Jesus Movement: McMaster University, 1995.
Trott, Jon, Life's Lessons: A History of Jesus People USA: Chicago, 1999.
White, Rebecca M., The Jesus Movement: South Dakota State University, 1999.
Wise, Ted and Jason Cronn, A Grad Student Questions a Jesus Freak (later retitled "Jason Questions a Jesus Freak"), Peninsula Bible Church, 1997.