(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.