Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How the Jesus Movement Affected a Non-Hippie Part II

The Jesus Movement (roughly 1970s and 1980s) largely took place outside of the organized church, though in time some churches and para-church organizations moved to embrace it. The Baptist church of my youth injected an occasional "Jesus song" into their traditional service, inviting hippie-types in as guest musicians. For me, this was always a breath of fresh air. Remember, there was no such thing as contemporary Christian music back then! It was being invented, born out of the spontaneity of worship fueled by the Holy Spirit.

The Missionary church in Shambaugh, Iowa embraced the movement by contributing a meeting house, an old two-room schoolhouse dubbed "The Shack." This was just one example of how churches moved to support the burgeoning sweep of the Holy Spirit that was happening all over the country. Churches that refused to embrace the movement found themselves missing out on the opportunity to disciple a whole army of new converts.

Pastor Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, is sometimes called the "Father of the Jesus Movement" or the "Pied Piper of the Jesus Generation" because he recognized the movement as a true revival and welcomed the hippies inside of the church. He initially met with some opposition, as the older members of the congregation worried that the metal rivets on the hippies' blue jeans would scratch the wooden pews. Chuck's response was, "then we'll remove the pews!" 

"Chuck Smith went out of his way to befriend hippies, to listen to them and try to understand them. He told his congregation: 'Our church lost a whole generation of young people with a negative, no-movie, no-dance gospel. Let us at Calvary not be guilty of the same mistake. Instead, let us trust God and emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit within individual lives. We want change to come from inside out.'" quoted from For the Love of Mike

"Our fellowship began with twenty-five members who represented mainline, traditional America. Yet God called us to share with the youth from the counterculture. This outreach took a miracle of love and acceptance. But as each group accepted the other, both sides grew in number. There was a vital sense of God stepping into the picture and as lives changed before our eyes. The sense of being in the middle of a miracle kept feeding itself like a bonfire. When some hopeless heroin addict throws away the needle and goes to the beach to convert three people to Christ in an afternoon, it's a pretty strong boost to the faith of everyone involved!" Pastor Chuck Smith, quote from Harvest

Word of the blossoming work at Calvary Chapel filtered back to my world, Iowa, in the late 1970's. My husband and I heard first hand testimonies of people who had experienced the massive ocean baptisms and the informal Bible teachings taking place in southern California. Their glowing accounts were summed up in the word "love." We were interested but also felt it to be just a Southern California phenomenon.

The music, however, was something we much more readily embraced. The first albums we owned as a married couple were "Sail on Sailor" by Mustard Seed Faith and "Love Song," groundbreaking Jesus People music. We heard that "Little Country Church" from the Love Song album was descriptive of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa* and again, our interest was awakened but we would not experience the fulfillment of that awakening until some years later when the Lord would uproot us from our home and traditional church.

*Concerning the song, Girard explained, “Fred would bring me some amazing chord line with cool chords that I would never think of, and just leave me alone to supply the words and melody. The band was in Northern California, staying in a private home for the afternoon before a concert. Fred brought out the guitar, and began playing the chords to “Little Country Church.” I looked up on the wall and there was this sepia tone photo of a rural church that caught my eye. I began to sing "Little country church on the edge of town…”
“As I went on, I realized that what was shaping was really the story of Calvary Chapel. Calvary wasn't strictly a "country" church, but it was out in a field and I realized that this song represented the whole Jesus movement. It was about the open-minded attitudes of the pastors like Chuck Smith who had the courage to embrace the hippies and allow a new thing to happen in the church. They permitted new musical styles and didn’t judge the hippies for their look. They realized that God changed the heart.” 


2 comments: said...

I really enjoyed your two-part series on the Jesus Movement.

I missed this time period -- by quite a bit! :) -- but am so thankful that my parents listened to lots of Keith Green when we were children and sang Petra songs and introduced us at a very young age to the 2nd Chapter of Acts' Narnia album, The Roar of Love.

Just in the past few weeks, I have opened a Spotify account and have thus suddenly been presented with the opportunity to listen to some of these artists at length and to learn more about them that I never knew before. What a wonder is an unsullied lifestory, a testimony that bears unflinching witness to the majesty and Lordship of Christ!

I guess this is what stands out to me the most about that movement: the people who really did give up everything, who became utterly new creations. I'm so excited by the prospect of getting to know them one day!

Poiema said...

Thanks for your note, Bryana. My daughter is about your age and also grew up with some of the music you mentioned. I sometimes think she would've fit right into the Jesus era because she identifies with it so greatly! But God has a purpose for each generation, and I do pray for a fresh spiritual awakening in this age. I think new music is an earmark of each new revival. Bring it on, Lord!