I remember the late 1960s and early 1970s almost as if they were yesterday. Those were my teen years. Life was good and exiting things were happening in something called the Jesus Movement.
California, the epicentre of the movement, was a long way from Montreal and Ottawa, the places I spent those years. But we knew that Jesus was, suddenly cool, even gracing the cover of Time magazine? There was a new wind blowing and it was shaking up the established church.
I’ve read a fair amount about the Jesus revolution over the years. Especially the music. Being involved in radio I met a lot of the pioneers and heard the stories. But I had never heard it from this angle.
I’m a music guy, don’t spend much of my time hanging out with pastors. Ellen Vaughn is one of my favorite authors. I had a vague idea who Greg Laurie was. The topic grabbed me. When I asked if I would like to review Jesus Revolution, I jumped at it.
Greg Laurie wasn’t a pastor when the Jesus revolution began. He was a 17-year-old kid into sex, drugs and rock and roll. On a fast track to nowhere. Yet by the time he was 20 he was pastoring a church, one he started from scratch, that today is one of the largest in the USA. He has history and credibility, and this is his tory.
Set in context of the times, this is a “warts and all” account of a revival movement that swept America, and indeed the world. It is also, if you read between the lines, a kind of guidebook for those who want to see it happen again.
The hippies of the sixties weren’t very different from today’s millennial generation, at least as Vaughn and Laurie see it. There was a drug problem (opioids today) that was killing young Americans. There were social issues that their elders weren’t addressing (the environment). Politicians had lost the trust of the people (thanks to Vietnam and Watergate), racial tensions were high, and the social fabric of society was showing considerable ripping and wear. The generation gap was wide and growing wider. So much of that resembles today’s world.
They were fearless and determined to share what they had found. It is fair to say they changed the world.
This is Greg Laurie’s story, but Ellen Vaughn provides the context, bringing it beyond simple autobiography and making Jesus Revolution a “must read.”
What about today? Can there be a second Jesus revolution? The implication is yes.
Weirdly enough, the Jesus revolution of the late 1960s never tried to be relevant to culture, hippie or straight. Both cultures had problems – so why emulate them? Those early “Jesus freaks” offered a way out of the trap. The hippie churches had contemporary music that reflected who they were, but a traditional message. It wasn’t watered down to be “seeker friendly.” It was an authentic expression of an ancient faith. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, were drawn to it, realizing Jesus is the answer. There were no programs, no plans, just people.
We live in a world where culturally there are many similarities to the 1960s. Politicians are less than trustworthy. The news media are distrusted, and there seems to be an uneasy relationship with the truth. Corporations are increasingly being seen as less than benevolent. And there are wars and rumours of wars around the globe.
The calling of the Church is to speak Truth to society. People know there must be more. They are hungry for more. How will they know what it is unless someone tells them? Jesus Revolution chronicles a time when the Church in North America experienced almost unprecedented growth. It can happen again. For the good of society, it must happen again. ‘
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”