Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Movement’

Since the beginning of time humankind has fought against God’s ways and stubbornly insisted on doing things their own way. We can read in The Bible how many times God’s people rejected His laws and later suffered for it. But God had always reserved a remnant of His people who remained faithful to Him and prayed for spiritual awakening and renewal. Then the people cried out to God, repented, and God showed them mercy and rescued them from their troubles. Many today have criticized the Israelites for their actions, but are we really any different today?  

Many of the early colonists had come to the new world to escape the persecution from the king of England and to own their own land and enjoy the fruit of their labors. But as the land became tamed and prosperous they no longer relied on God for their daily bread. Wealth brought complacency toward God. As a result, church membership dropped. 

The Industrial Revolution was also a determent to revival. The transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States in the period from about 1760 to the 1800s. Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, the average income began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major effect of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population in the western world began to increase consistently for the first time in history. 

During that time many people in the U.S. no longer regularly attended church services. This occurred because people had become too consumed with earning a living to have time to worship God—That His rules no longer applied to their every day lives. 

Wishing to make it easier to increase church attendance, the religious leaders decided to allow membership without a public testimony of conversion. The churches were now attended largely by people who lacked a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Sadly, even many of the ministers were not saved themselves. 

But the faith and prayers of a few righteous leaders were the foundation of the First and second Great Awakenings. People like George Whitefield, William Booth and Charles Finney would spend hours—and sometimes all night—covering an event in prayer. Through the many prayers and ministry of these men of God, the hearts of the people were changed. It was the young people who responded first and experienced the regeneration of becoming new creations. They, in turn, spread the message to their elders. Thus began the first sparks of revival.    

Charles Finney,  lawyer, theologian and college president, became the most famous revivalist of the Second Great Awakening. He did not just merely lead revivals; he actively marketed and promoted them. During many of his revival meetings, saloons and factories would close for the day. There were even instances where Finney would pass by a person only to have them fall to their knees in tears and repentance without him saying a word to them! 

The Jesus Movement of the 70s and 80s

The hippies who plunged into the Pacific Ocean to be baptized during that summer of 1970 didn’t know they were in a revival. They didn’t even know what a revival was.  All they knew was that for the first time in their lives they felt forgiven and truly close to their Creator. The revivals of the 70s and 80s not only affected church growth, but it affected the music industry as well. Songwriters were changed and new Christian songs sprung up on Christian radio stations across America. They even influenced secular artists— from the Rolling Stones version of “You got To Move” to The Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright” to Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky”.

The 70s revival also birthed many Christian artist such as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Barry McGuire, Steve Camp and Keith Green. Many of these talented artists not only performed their songs, but incorporated preaching of the gospel into their concerts. As a result many people became saved at their concerts. Churches even began to use some of their songs in their worship services. 

Unfortunately, this revival had its own problems too. Because of man’s insatiable appetite to control others, many unbiblical teachings entered some of the churches that continue to this day: 

  • Name it and claim it teaching
  • The health and prosperity gospel
  • Exorcisms and demon possession 
  • Absolute submission of women to men

Many churches during that time scheduled “revival services” with powerful evangelists and “prophets” from out of town that promised to bring God’s “holy fire” with them. They would be scheduled from such and such date to such and such date. But a true spiritual revival from God is not something that can be scheduled in a day planner! It only comes through prayer and fasting, and more prayer and fasting. In my article, “Where are the men of God?” I mentioned Sam Shoemaker, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson and Keith Green. These were all men of God who were concerned with people’s souls and the sins within the Church. They all preached boldly on the subject of repentance and revival in the Church. (See https://word-from-the-street.com/2020/07/13/where-are-the-men-of-god/) The one thing they all had in common is the hours they all spent weeping and praying for the Church to repent. Charles Spurgeon once said,  “The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out the life of a man if he attends to it as he should.” Sadly, we don’t teach that in the churches anymore. It is no wonder that so many have left the church today. 

With the advent of the internet and the technology revolution many Christians today have again relied more on their own intellect than on God’s word. Many people in the U.S. again no longer regularly attend church services—And people have become so consumed with the next new technology that they have no use for God. The world has told them that God’s rules no longer apply to their every day lives. 

And the result?

Selfishness, hatred, racism and unrestrained violence. But today there’s also a growing sense that history has run its cycle again and we’re back in ’60s mode. Like the hippies of the 70s and 80s, millennials—people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s—say they are hungry for authenticity, a sense of community, and real care for people who are needy and marginalized. And just like the hippies of their parents’ generation, young people today are a bit cynical about big business, big institutions, or organized religion. Bombarded by competing content online for most of their lives, they are beginning to shy away from advertising, causes, or techniques that they feel are superficially targeted toward a specific group of people, and instead gravitate toward content that feels real and honest. They are looking for truth. They are looking for integrity. That’s why so many of them have lost faith in politicians, government and the Christian church.

Keith Green once said, “This generation of Christians are responsible for this generation of souls.” What will we do with that responsibility? There are millions of millennials and generation X and Zs who are searching for the truth. And we as Christians have that truth already in God’s word. We just need to show them that we believe it and live it. That’s what integrity is.

I have noticed how when a young Christian gets saved and begins to study God’s word, they just don’t believe what they reads true, they know what they read is true—and they go out and do what the apostles and early Church did: Share the gospel, feed the poor and heal the sick. We older, more “mature” Christians would do well to follow their lead. Maybe then we will experience a true revival of God in the churches and in our country. 

Let us take a lesson from what God said to king Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…But if youturn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’ (2 Chronicles 7:13-22 ESV) 

It is time for us Christians to repent of our wickedness, seek God’s face and obey His word. Only then will God heal our land. 

In the midst of a very turbulent and discouraging time in our nation’s history, God intervened in a supernatural way during a five-year period from 1968 to 1973. A grass roots spiritual movement burst forth on the scene with a spiritual explosion that revolutionized millions of lives.

By most accounts, the revival of the ‘70s began in 1967 with the opening of a small storefront evangelical mission called the Living Room in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district that catered to the unchurched hippie generation of the day.

Within a short time, a number of independent Christian communities sprang up all across North America spawning a number of other Christian coffeehouses  and “street ministries” as well.

New converts began enthusiastically pointing their one-way finger heavenward and hitting the streets to tell others about a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. They were baptized—many in rivers and in the ocean. They found themselves gathering informally in coffee houses where they shared testimonies about the living God. Like wildfire this move of God spread across the country from city to city. And this was before the advent of cell phones, computers, smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and other social media!

In order to proclaim the message of the gospel, these new Christians, referred to as Jesus Freaks, simply adopted existing forms of communication. Christian publications with names like Right On!, The Fish, Street Level, and Cornerstone became a fundamental component of each street Christian community.

Realizing the need to open their churches to these “Jesus Freaks”, many conservative pastors recruited hippie liaisons to their ministerial staff. People like Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, in Santa Ana, California, soon found their churches being radically transformed.

The revival of the 60s and 70s also birthed many prolific writers such as Leonard Ravenhill, Winkie Pratney, David Wilkerson and many others who influenced many who were involved in the revival.

Another development was Jesus Music, the controversial combination of rock music and the gospel as one of the most effective—and subsequently the most lasting, result of the revival.

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. Most notably: Barry McGuire, Second Chapter of Acts, Petra, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Glenn Kaiser and the Resurrection Band, and Larry Norman. Many of these artists traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, performing in festivals held underneath giant tents.

As Christian coffeehouses and Jesus music festivals emerged as a popular alternative to popular rock music, many mainstream church-goers lamented that this Jesus Music was a spiritual compromise and a trick of the devil to entrap young people. But these pioneers of Christian music 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.”

So what happened? Why did the revival of the 1970s die?Long-haired evangelists, and Jesus rock musicians were portrayed throughout national magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life, Rolling Stone, and U.S. News & World Report. In 1971 the Jesus People were the religious event of the year while ranking third in Time Magazine’s story of the year. Press articles, and other media reports all detailed various facets of what was now being called the  “Jesus movement.”

With Watergate and President Nixon’s promises to end the war in Vietnam dominating the front pages, the cynicism born of societal fears towards “cults” and their “brainwashing” techniques made evangelism a less fruitful endeavor than it once had been.

Soon those involved in the revival began to believe the world’s description of the revival as a “movement” rather than a move of God. And as the revival came to an end, Jesus People groups either disbanded, or joined the institutionalized church, following traditions of men as though they were doctrines of God. (Matthew 15:8-9; Isaiah 29:13 ) Sadly, many simply returned to their countercultural roots of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

And those who stood firm in their faith and followed the truth of God’s Word have been labeled legalistic or fanatical.

Leonard Ravenhill was one of those who were labeled too fanatical. Ravenhill argues in his book “Why Revival Tarries” that, “We do not have revival for the simple reason that we really don’t want revival. We are simply too contented, too smug, too self-satisfied, and too carnal. Our hearts are not broken and we do not earnestly long for a powerful move of God.”

Ravenhill reminds us that “As the Church goes, so goes the world. The world is in a mess because the church is in a mess. And the church is in a mess because so many of its leaders and preachers are in a mess: The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.”

Until we are broken and repentant, we will see no fresh move of God’s Spirit. As Leonard Ravenhill says, “The church must first repent; then the world will break! The church must first weep; then our altars will be filled with weeping penitents.”

Like John the Baptist, Leonard Ravenhill was a voice crying in the wilderness as he continued to preach, “This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners.”

Strong words, but true. Our problem is ourselves and our spiritual leaders. We need to break up our fallow ground and seek God’s truth and his righteousness. (Hosea 10:12) That is what happened during the revival in the 70s. People rejected man’s religion and returned to the practices of the early Church.

We simply cannot keep blaming the world and others for all our troubles because In many ways, we have only ourselves to blame. So let’s humbly learn lessons from the errors of the past and seek God with passion so that he, in our time, might be merciful, and revive us again, however and through whomever he sovereignly chooses.

“From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:7-8)

There is no question that we are reaching a tipping point and a place of desperation in our land. I pray that God will leave us a remnant and bring a fresh move of God before the clock runs out.