By Ron Murdock
“Churches must find liberation from the old wineskin of ‘church’ and become places of mission. We joyfully lose our lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, believing He will truly build his church.” – Michael Ward, head pastor of Central United Church in Calgary, Alberta.
The Jesus Movement was a good idea that got started in the late 1960’s. It may have helped the Church at the time to break away from the chains of stagnant mentality and bring about some needed change and fresh air into the Christian environment. It’s a shame that parts of the Christian Church has crusted over to the point that they’ve shut out the healing energy of Spirit. I reckon it’s better to live by the Spirit of the Law not by the letter of it, something the story of Jesus tried to show us.
I think the Jesus Movement came about by people sick of the status quo. I believe people involved in it wanted to return to what they thought how the early Christians lived. Commendable as it sounds, just how practical is it? Nobody these days knows who Jesus really was. It’s one thing to read about someone but it’s another matter inter-acting with them on a day to day basis. A good look at formal religion is necessary as it gets stiff when the guidance of Spirit would be more beneficial.
Instead of being part of the establishment, as it has been for years, the Church can take a hint from the Jesus movement by returning to a grass roots level. In a packed church a person can feel lost in the crowd, just another face in it. I would suggest, as some churches have done, split into smaller groups or communities. Home churches are a good idea.
The influence of the Jesus Movement remains. Some people have straightened out after years of alcohol or drug abuse. Others have found a home and became part of a community. I hope their endeavors had some success in renewing the Church overall. Christian music became more widespread. Instead of the same dry old hymns, new lyrics were written with more of an upbeat message that attracted a younger crowd.
A growing number of churches are now offering more than just a Sunday service and mid-week Bible study. After service coffee and/or meal, drop in centers, communal homes are part of their outreach. It helps people get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Church needs to avoid becoming a clique. The second chapter of James in the New Testament speaks of not showing favoritism to anyone who participates in a church service. People will go to church for a variety of reasons. But I still feel churches on whole need to develop a higher level of charisma or awareness to survive.