The Jesus Movement I Saw and Five Reasons Why It Still Matters



“Anything God has ever done He can do again. Anything He’s ever done anywhere He can do here. Anything He’s ever done with anyone He can do with you!”

~A W Tozer

For all of us concerned about the spiritual “climate” in the US right now, the “Jesus Movement” is an encouraging reminder that God can still work miracles. He can do even more than we ask or dare to think!

Fairbanks, Alaska in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s was a cultural Wild West show! Hippies were everywhere but so were the crew cut and hard hat types from Texas and Oklahoma eager for the Trans Alaska pipeline to get underway. Along with those extremes were the typical Alaskans who were “counter culture” decades before it was cool. They thrived on the rugged extremes of the “last frontier” and tended toward a “mind your own business” individualism.

I was in my early teens from a traditional family and I wasn’t sure where I fit into the mix. The guys at school who wore their hair long were getting away with something I envied but my dad wouldn’t allow at the time – but their drug use and anti-establishment vibe scared me a little. I watched the news every night. The cities in the “lower 48” were erupting in riots, leaders were being assassinated, the Vietnam War divided the country and it was a generally anxious time.

Then one day at school I saw a group of long haired freaks in a circle in the parking lot. I assumed they were smoking dope as usual until I got a little closer and heard them praying like they were in the midst of an old fashioned Baptist tent revival. The Jesus Movement had hit my town and it burned like a summer wild fire ignited by a lightning strike! I couldn’t believe it.

Throughout my high school years the Jesus Freaks openly witnessed, sang and played Christian folk-rock music, held Bible studies in the hallways and parking lots, and spread the gospel with a fervor I could never dismiss. I knew them when they were high on weed and acid, and I knew them when they were high on Jesus, and there was no denying the sincerity of these people- something real had happened to them and their lives had been changed.

Later, when I started following Jesus myself and attending college, I met students from the mid-west and other areas from around the country who had similar stories about the Jesus Movement during their high school days. Today I realize the Jesus Movement occurred almost spontaneously in places all over America and, I believe changed a generation. In later posts I will reflect more on the phenomenon, but here I want to note a few simple observations.

1) Spiritual Awakenings are possible when you least expect them! They have happened before and they can happen again- even it looks like culture has abandoned God. Keep praying!

2) People on fire for Christ change their environment in measurable ways and they never keep it to themselves. Keep praying!

3) People who have genuinely been in the presence of Jesus might seem a little odd at first- but they are infectiously hard to resist because their joy is so obvious. Keep praying!

4) Even if revival appears “spontaneous,” somebody behind the scenes has been agonizing in prayer. Keep praying!

5) God raises up leaders to fan the flames of revival. He always does. Keep praying!

The Jesus Movement was for then. God can’t be limited by expecting Him to do it exactly like that again. But God will move through His people again and when He does- people, cities, and nations will change.

I’m praying for that day to come! I believe it will. Keep praying.