Tuesday, September 24, 2013



GOD’S FOREVER FAMILY: THE JESUS PEOPLE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA (2013, Oxford University Press) was penned by Larry Eskridge.  His bio tells us that he was involved with the Jesus People movement in the Chicago area in the 1970s. He’s also been on the staff of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College since 1988. 

This book fills a huge void when it comes to modern day documentation of the rise and fall of the Jesus People Movement in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in, but not limited to the United States.  Learn how scores of hippies came to know the Lord through Christian coffeehouses and street ministry, and how they went on to form communes.  Learn about the financial difficulties they faced and how they had to rely on the Lord for His provision.  Read about the lives of such influential Jesus People as Lonnie Frisbee and Arthur Blessitt.  Also learn about the controversial and divisive characters in the movement itself. 

If you are a fan of today’s Christian Contemporary Music , pop and/or rock, this book is a must read, so you can get a grasp on the beginnings of Jesus Music.  Young converts joined the Gospel message with a worldly, mainstream musical beat and by so doing, reached scores of unsaved youth and drew them to Christ.  Read about the resistance by more traditional Christians towards this new music.  Eskridge does a great job chronicling the careers of the likes of Love Song, and Larry Norman, as well as the 2nd Chapter of Acts.  The beginnings of what is now known as praise and worship music are also traced in this study.

If you are currently a church attendee, you will be fascinated with the formation of the Calvary Chapel Church in Costa Mesa, California by Pastor Chuck Smith and how their services catered to new street converts.  Also, learn how the Vineyard churches began.  Eskridge does a good job of documenting how evangelical church youth interacted with the new Jesus freaks and embraced them.

Throughout the book, we see how the mainstream media viewed and covered the Jesus People Movement. It is always interesting to have an outside perspective on a zealous faith group. 

If you are a Christian today, reading this book will leave you longing for a second, new and fresh Jesus movement in the church and among young people worldwide.  Revival sometimes seems so far away and like something that just doesn’t happen to us.  What if a new Jesus revival started and infiltrated our schools, churches, sports teams, media, etc, etc?  Can it happen? Yes. But it can’t be forced. It would have to be a work of the Holy Spirit amongst us.  The youth of today have such potential and are definitely searching for something meaningful and lasting.  Too often today we spend our time as Christians entertaining ourselves and not on outreach.  Getting back to the Bible is key for sure.

After reading this book, you will not take forgranted having contemporary Christian music to listen to, or contemporary worship services.  A lot of hard work went into bringing these things into wide acceptance in evangelicalism.

GOD’S FOREVER FAMILY is a book that will totally captivate you!  It is extremely well-written and detailed and includes an interesting survey done in recent years of people who were involved in the Jesus People Movement.  If you are a pastor, or youth worker, or Christian radio station dj or manager, or a born again believer of any sort, please read this terrific book. For more info visit: www.oup.com/us.