Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new film, JESUS REVOLUTION (releases nationwide on February 24, 2023). While I knew it would be great, I wasn’t expecting it to impact me the way it did.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here are the Coles Notes.
Set in the late 1960s – early ’70s, it tells the true story of Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney, The Kissing Booth) who is searching for all the right things in all of the wrong places, until he meets Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie, The Chosen), a charismatic, hippie street preacher who later became an integral part of the Vineyard Movement. Together with Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer, Fraiser), founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, they open the doors of Smith’s languishing church to an unexpected revival of radical and newfound love, leading to what TIME Magazine dubbed in 1971, THE JESUS REVOLUTION. Only 5 years prior to this 15-page spread, in 1966, TIME Magazine published “IS GOD DEAD?”
While watching the film, core memories from my childhood bubbled to the surface. The incredible music, style of cinematography, set, and costume design placed me back in North Vancouver, British Columbia in 1972 – where I spent the first 12 years of my life.
My parents committed their lives to Christ after my younger sister was born. Our family and the church we attended in Lynn Valley were profoundly impacted by the Jesus Movement. As were many churches throughout the province, and eventually, across the country.
The music changed as drums and electric guitars made their way to the church stage. We experienced a drastic change to worship sets and eventually to my parent’s record collection. Many of the musicians that came out of this time period became leaders within the Jesus Movement: Barrie McGuire, Second Chapter of Acts, and Keith Green to name a few.
Yes, music changed in the church, but something much deeper took place.
The people sitting next to me changed.
I could look down the pew on any given Sunday and see leather-clad bikers sitting next to a long-haired twenty-something, sitting beside an older man in a suit and tie, sitting next to me. Everyone was welcome. This eclectic community began to do life together. We attended tent meetings where miracles abounded and camped over weekends at outdoor music festivals (Jesus Northwest). Handed out comic strip gospel tracts (Living Water by Greg Laurie). Witnessed frequent baptisms in backyard pools and by the beach. One of the most talked about outreaches from this era… our music-based coffee house (Hebron House), run out of our church basement.
We felt like a family, brought together by a passion to reach a generation that was seeking something substantial.
Something that would last.
(side note: when my dad passed away in 2016, even though we hadn’t seen most of these people in three decades (we moved to the country in the mid-80s), many of them attended his funeral. It felt as if time had stood still.)
A change in the community is a result of revival. It goes beyond the four walls of the church. It cannot be contained!
The Jesus People aka “Jesus Freaks” spiritual awakening was a revival rooted in LOVE. That pure love is what changed lives – it drew me closer to Jesus.
That’s not to say I didn’t stray. During my rebellious “exploration” phase of life (16-22), it was these childhood experiences that tugged at my heart. Eventually, I made my back. It is because of God’s goodness, grace, and the realization of His unconditional love that I have chosen to live out this life as a Jesus Freak.
Last year, my husband and I retired from full-time ministry. We’d pastored together for nearly 30 years at the church he planted in southwestern Ontario. We filtered every decision for the church, and for our family, through how my childhood church made me feel. Through a lens of love and truth. It was our priority to create a community and place of belonging. A place where we truly loved anyone who God put in our path.
I have deep compassion and empathy for people who do not look like me or even carry the same beliefs as me. I wholeheartedly believe I am who I am today because of the Jesus Revolution experience I had in my formative years.
JESUS REVOLUTION is an impressive film! It does a great job of detailing the incredible spiritual awakening of the 1960s and 1970s, and how God moved during that time. And yes, it absolutely has implications for us, today.
What could a revival today look like?
Hippies were the ‘outcasts’ of the 60s & 70s… who are the ‘outcasts’ of today?
God loves the world! How are we expressing that in our daily life?
“God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness, he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life change.” Romans 2:4 (MSG)
50 years ago, God’s Word swept through the nations, changing the path for an entire generation of hippies, outcasts, and truth-seekers. Remembering this revival and how it changed the lives of millions, I pray, “Lord, do it again.”
EDITED: This was written prior to the events taking place at Asbury University Wilmore, Kentucky. There have been additional similar accounts from other colleges across the US. Prayers are being answered!