The Jesus Revolution movie premiers today, and you should definitely go see it!
On Wednesday, our church rented out our local theater for a private showing of the movie before its public release. Tickets sold out fast, and the theater was full of people of all ages.
The movie chronicles the early days of the Jesus Movement, through the eyes of Greg Laurie. At the forefront of the Jesus Movement was Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel, and their stories are told in this film, along with that of hippie evangelist and preacher, Lonnie Frisbee.
The stories told in the movie are stories that I heard from my pastor, Tom Stipe, over the years: Chuck Smith telling his board members, who were concerned about shoeless hippies ruining the new carpet in the church, that he would rather rip out the carpet than send the hippies away, or make them feel unwelcome; baptizing thousands at Pirate’s Cove in Corona del Mar, the concerts in the tent, and more.
Tom, who passed away in 2020, was good friends with Greg Laurie. When Tom passed away, I had the honor of speaking at his memorial, along with Greg. Unfortunately, Tom wasn’t mentioned in the film, although he was right there in the thick of the events that the movie chronicles.
When I, as a teenager, gave my life to the Lord and started attending church at Crossroads – the Calvary Chapel church which Tom pastored in Arvada, Colorado – my dad told me: “You know, back when I was in high school, I remember there were all these hippies playing ‘Jesus music’ on their guitars.” It was only later on, when I got to know Pastor Tom, that I realized the significance of the experience my dad was sharing with me.
Several times during the movie, I found myself moved to tears. There is something incredibly powerful about the hope of the gospel and the message of redemption.
I was so happy to have my kids be able to see this movie and connect the dots with some of the things we’ve shared with them about the history of our movement. Furthermore, I was proud to have the members of our church who were less-familiar with Calvary Chapel see this depiction of the Jesus Movement, and understand the roots and the values of the movement to which our church belongs.
Something I really appreciated about the movie was how they portrayed the nuances of the relationship between Chuck and Lonnie, and the reasons why they parted ways. The film portrayed that tension in a palpable way.
Tom Stipe used to tell me that what God did through Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement in the 1970’s was a story that needed to be shared and never forgotten. This movie tells the story of this important part of American history, which has spilled over and changed the world.
I encourage you to go out, watch the movie, and invite a friend or two. I hope many people will see the movie, and that God will use it to spark a Jesus revolution in our generation as well.