Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement

Posted by Admin ~ July 31st, 2008. Filed under: Pastor's Blog

A church in town has taken to positioning themselves as a “Jesus Movement” church. In particular they’ve emphasized the expressiveness and diversity of the music of that period and they are seeking to emulate that on Sundays. Godspeed to that church. While Calvary Chapel was a major player in the movement we by no means were - or are the only ones. However after reading an article in the Montclair Times on that church I felt a need to clarify a few points regarding the movement.

Additionally, the Montclair Times just published a mostly accurate and very flattering article on us (I actually don’t sling my guitar over my shoulder while preaching, and my sandals have a closed top). This article covered a lot of who we are but again I’d like to make a few clarifications. There is much to be googled regarding the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel but what follows is just my condensed version:

Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement
Pastor George Hillman, Calvary Chapel of Montclair 7/25/08

Discussion about the 60’s and 70’s never seems to happen without mention of the music and art.

Though the impact of that period’s music and art was significant, it was merely the by-product of a socially and politically conscious generation. Young people were alive, aware and involved.

This is equally true of the Jesus Movement of that time, even musically. What now is a thriving contemporary Christian Music industry was spawned from the artistic expressions of an unprecedented number of kids who “turned on to Jesus” in the 60’s.

The kids of the 60’s and 70’s counter-culture were not church go-ers by and large. This was probably mutual in most cases - churches were propagators of the very ideals and traditions they were disillusioned by and churches typically shunned them because of their long hair, style of dress and non-traditional ways of expressing themselves.

It’s no big revelation that religion can sometimes be myopic and self-serving. Even when churches reach out there’s often a motive. That motive usually is to change folks – to conform them to the look and feel of the religion. During the 60’s and 70’s there were a few churches and individuals that took a different approach. One of the most significant was a congregation of about 25 people in Southern California called Calvary Chapel. This was a group of people who not only accepted the kids of the counter-culture just as they were, but Calvary Chapel also taught those kids directly from the bible and showed them how to live as Christians - as opposed to religious church people. The church grew to hundreds of kids, then thousands , then tens of thousands.

When we look at our young people today we see proof that the socio-political activism of the 60’s and 70’s hasn’t waned. Likewise there is proof that the Jesus Movement never faded away either. Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa grew quickly from 25 people to hundreds, to thousands to over 20,000 weekly attendees. Today it is still one of the ten largest protestant churches in the US today, and now has over 1300 affiliates worldwide - including the one right here in Montclair.

In short, a number of those kids branched out all over the world as they grew up becoming many of our present day pastors, theologians, evangelists, psalmists and missionaries. Calvary Chapel of Montclair still continues in that pattern of accepting folks as they are and teaching them verse by verse through the bible – and yes - the music here is pretty cool.