Fifty years ago this month, I was beginning my final semester at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and getting ready to stay for two weeks after graduation to record my first album with players from the Old Town School of Folk Music in nearby downtown Chicago. The new record was published the following September, 1969, by a Catholic recording company, F.E.L. Publications and it became part of the sound track for a spiritual revolution.
The reason it was a Catholic company was because the evangelical Christian record companies were not yet ready to bring out contemporary Christian music — not for another year at least. Why the Catholics? The Catholic church was experiencing a youth renaissance due to the rise of very popular folk masses. Priests and nuns took up guitars, and because the Vatican had recently approved of English liturgy in churches, new folk music about faith was springing up everywhere. Thus the Catholics were hungry for material. The new masses were dubbed “folk masses” and wherever they sprang up young people flocked to church. Everyone has their own theory for when and where the Jesus Movement started, but I believe it was first evidenced in the folk masses of the Catholic Church. Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act movies would come years later, but they captured, in many ways, what was going on all over the country in 1969.
So are we engaging in a look back for nostalgia’s sake? By no means. There is no value in looking back except in order to bring forward that which is relevant to today, and our own future, and in this case, there is much. Especially when you think in terms of the proven and documented connection between boomers and millennials. We know this because it has come up in social research and it’s been proven by the fact that many millennials come to our site, though we are largely boomer-supported. They find something real with us — something that rings true in their own understanding of spiritual reality. The things we talk about — like the Sermon on the Mount, the Twelve Steps, the book of Acts, the Red Letter Christians, and the centrality of Jesus — all ring true with millennials. And the biggest connection is the fact that most millennials are not attending church, yet they are finding a level of commonality with us.
So we are going to focus, for the next few weeks, on some of the main characteristics of the Jesus Movement that we believe are a big part of where we are headed. In some ways we may be like Moses, spying out the land, looking into the new frontier, and if we are not able to pass in, we can encourage and inspire the generation that will.
To that end, we look for the next frontier to unify believers from various theological bents and denominational identities to drop their differences and unite around the centrality of Christ. It’s all about Jesus — not creeds, or dogmas, or moral doctrines — it’s all of us unified in Christ, and taught and instructed by the Holy Spirit. I’m thinking of one of the most influential leaders of the early Jesus Movement in the San Francisco Bay Area who was a man who came to Christ through a vision from God while on an acid trip, and who went off for months and studied his Bible with only the Holy Spirit to guide him, and when he finally turned up at a church that was embracing the movement, he spoke truth with unprecedented clarity through words and phrases we had never heard because he was not evangelically trained. He didn’t know how Christians talked. He just knew truth. That’s a paradigm-breaker for the future.
So look for people to be taught of the Holy Spirit, as we focus everything around Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit in the scriptures. What was important to Jesus? What were His priorities? Look for more on this tomorrow.