As I recall, it was sometime in 1970 while I was in seminary that I came across a couple of hippies preaching. They were teaching that Jesus was coming back any day for his church, the Anti-Christ was going to be ruling in Europe soon and Russia was going to attack Israel but the USA would do nothing. It didn’t matter what any of us did, the whole world was just going to get worse, but all the faithful were going to be ‘Raptured’ away before the coming nuclear World War and before God brought universal judgment, so you better join with Jesus now. Pretty radical at the time.
I was not impressed. I had a different eschatological view and pretty much ‘knew it all’ like any other seminarian. These ‘unwashed’ guys came from some little church at the beach (Costa Mesa, California) called ‘Calvary Chapel’. This would be my only contact with the ‘Jesus People’ at the time, a move of God which would see more that 750,000 people to Christ in the early 70’s and started the Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Churches, eventually the Vineyard Movement, and many others.
Contemporary Christian music and worship also got its start during this move, so many thousands of churches across America and in the Western world have actually been affected by this little California Revival.
Later, since my involvement with the Vineyard Movement starting in 1986, I have talked to many pastors and members about their recollection and participation in this move. My long time pastor/friend Ed Piorek was a surfer who came to Christ and started a Calvary Chapel in San Clemente, which later after several moves became the Vineyard church I am part of. But that is another story.
One of my greatest disappointments now is that I didn’t investigate this revival which was less than 50 miles away. However, it might as well have been a thousand if you are a self assured smart aleck denominationally bound seminary student that knows better.
I was reminded of the ‘Jesus People Move’ with the coming of the 3 day Harvest Crusade at Anaheim Stadium this weekend and the Keynote preaching of Greg Laurie, supported by Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel and many other churches in Southern California. Pastor Laurie got his start during the early days of the revival.
8/6/07 Update: The Harvest Crusades were started 18 years ago in order to reach the ‘next generation’. Over 102,000 attended the three day crusade this year (Aug.3-5,2007) with over 9,500 making decisions for Christ.