Jesus movement

The Jesus movement flourished in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States and Europe. Young people involved in the hippie, or counterculture, movement were targeted by unorthodox evangelists or found their own way to Christianity. Previous experimentation with drugs, Eastern religion, the occult, and communal lifestyles affected the way these young Christians approached their faith. Just as important was the deep alienation many young people felt toward “anyone over thirty” and the traditional or conventional institutions, including the churches, they controlled. Culturally quite conservative, older church people were often offended by the clothes and hairstyles favored by the young and adamantly resisted making any concessions to their sensibilities or desires regarding worship.

Originally based in innovative churches, Jesus movement churches served as bases for vigorous evangelism on university campuses, beaches, and the streets. Many Jesus people joined more traditional churches, usually evangelical Protestant but also Catholic, Orthodox, or Episcopal. By the 1980s–1990s most evangelical churches had accommodated the worship styles and sensibilities pioneered by the Jesus movement.

For many the belief in an imminent apocalypse led to an interest in “prophecy,” which often became a conduit for conservative politics during the cold war. Perhaps ironically, the Jesus movement helped lay the foundation for the New Christian Right. Contemporary evangelical Protestantism was deeply affected by the Jesus movement, absorbing its moral intensity. The latter can be seen most vividly in the revolution that has occurred in worship and popular Christian music.


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