The movie “Jesus Revolution” presented the Jesus Movement of the 1970s as California hippies getting on fire for Jesus and then being pulled into a small church that grew into a worldwide Christian denomination called Calvary Chapel. In reality it was much more than that. Many of the millions who encountered the living Jesus during the Jesus Movement didn’t immediately begin attending church. Here are 5 parts of the Jesus Movement that “Jesus Revolution” left out.
1) The nonchurch Jesus people: Multitudes of hippies, college students, and young adults all across America became passionate Christ-followers during the early 1970s. Many of them had no interest in church. They began to spontaneously meet together in homes, college buildings, parks, coffee houses, and other places to experience and hang out with Jesus together. On my campus in Tennessee, we met in the lobby of a dorm and in the student center building. Very few of us were hippies but we all loved Jesus and one another and came together free from any church or religious institution to be led by God’s Spirit, not by a program or preacher.
2) The Asbury Revival of 1970: An amazing spiritual awakening happened at Asbury University in February 1970 when a chapel service continued non-stop for about two weeks. Afterwards students who had become fired up for the risen Jesus were sent to college campuses all around America to share testimonies about the living Jesus. They stirred up spiritual fires on campuses everywhere, including my 5000-student college in West Tennessee.
3) The charismatic movement: During the same time period multitudes of Christians from many different denominations began to experience a powerful relationship with God’s Spirit that included the supernatural gift of the ability to speak in unknown languages (speaking in tongues). That gift presents people with a life-transforming awareness of the living Jesus and can be exercised over and over again. That gift spread throughout traditional churches creating intense excitement about the risen Jesus and caused many Christians to start to meet together in Spirit-led small groups where they prayed, cast out demons, worshipped, saw visions, gave prophetic words, and flowed in the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
4) Full Gospel Business Men meetings: Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship was a Pentecostal Christian organization founded in the 1950s. When the Jesus Movement began, their monthly meetings began to greatly expand in numbers and locations spreading passion for Jesus and the supernatural gift of praying in unknown languages far and wide. Their monthly meetings were Spirit-led and not controlled by church or religious protocol. They were held in hotels and other nonchurch buildings. Christians from many various churches and nonchurch Christians would come together to worship Jesus and hear passionate speakers (few of whom were famous or preachers). During worship the entire group would frequently sing in unknown languages together. Their voices would beautifully blend as the Spirit directed them. The room would be filled with the presence of the risen Jesus and the focus stayed on Him, not on the speaker. People would be invited forward for prayer and would minister to each other as the Spirit led. It was beautiful!
5) Lay Witness Missions: This powerful part of the Jesus Movement consisted of teams of nonpreachers who would be invited to a church for a weekend. Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday morning team members would take turns sharing their salvation testimony with the congregation. The team members would stay in church members’ homes and share the love of Jesus with them. After the last testimony of the weekend, people would be invited to receive the risen Jesus into their heart. The altar and aisles would fill with church members crying out to the living Jesus leaving behind many passionate Jesus people.
I was fortunate to frequently participate in and be empowered by all of those expressions of the Jesus Movement except for the 1970 Asbury Revival. Then this year I got to be a part of the 2023 Asbury Revival and it was one of the most powerful, Spirit-led Christian meetings that I have ever seen. I believe God is ready to release new avenues for His Spirit to freely flow in and through ordinary people. Get ready!