Released in the summer of 2023, Jesus Revolution is one of the movies of the year. It is a film that helps us rediscover the true story of the Jesus Movement, which represented an authentic spiritual awakening in the United States between the 60s and the 70s. The three main characters we see in the movie, Lonnie Frisbee, Chuck Smith, and Greg Laurie, were really protagonists in those years. Those who viewed the film are obviously curious to know the actual events: let’s discover them together.
You can watch the official trailer for Jesus Revolution here on Youtube.
Jesus Revolution, the true story: Lonnie Frisbee, Chuck Smith, and Greg Laurie
Lonnie Frisbee, Chuck Smith, and Greg Laurie are three charismatic figures who really met in the early 70s, all involved in the activities around the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California: the 2023 movie Jesus Revolution depicts them as in their true story.
The Calvary Chapel is the Christian movement and network of churches that was founded by Pastor Chuck Smith in the mid-1960s. It started to play a significant role in American history when Chuck Smith, who was the pastor of a small church in Costa Mesa, started to minister to a growing number of young people, including hippies. Instead of rejecting these young seekers, Chuck Smith welcomed them and encouraged a more informal and contemporary style of worship in his church, which resonated with the youth.
In 1968, Chuck Smith met Lonnie Frisbee, introduced to him by his daughter’s boyfriend. At that time, Chuck Smith was 41, and Lonnie was 19. Since the beginning, Chuck Smith saw in Lonnie a charismatic and effective preacher with a unique ability to connect with “his” people: Lonnie Frisbee was part of the hippie movement (as Chuck Smith’s daughter and many other young people in those years). By gradually involving Lonnie in his church’s activities, Chuck Smith managed to open Christianity to the young generation, especially to those who were part of the counterculture during that time.
Lonnie Frisbee’s influence was instrumental in the growth and popularity of the Calvary Chapel movement and its associated churches. He also played a role in the early development of Vineyard Churches, which later became a prominent denomination in the Charismatic Christian tradition.
This is how Lonnie Frisbee became one of the protagonists of the so-called Jesus Movement, whose true story inspired the movie Jesus Revolution. The Jesus Movement was characterized by a focus on youth outreach, contemporary worship music, and a strong emphasis on personal spiritual experiences.
The movement coincided with the counterculture and hippie movement of the 1960s, a time when many young people were seeking alternatives to the traditional values and institutions of society. During this period, there was a growing interest in Eastern spirituality, communal living, and social activism. In the midst of this cultural shift, many young people began to encounter Christianity in new and transformative ways. They were drawn to a more personal and experiential form of faith that emphasized a direct relationship with Jesus Christ. Christian communities that were welcoming and authentic in their approach played a crucial role in attracting these young seekers, and personalities like Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee were crucial in this evolution.
This is also how Greg Laurie met Jesus and started his life as an evangelical pastor. In those years, Greg Laurie became part of the community around Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel. Chuck Smith was the one who motivated him on this path: in 1973, under his mentorship, Laurie started holding Bible studies in Riverside, which later evolved into Harvest Christian Fellowship. Under his leadership, Harvest Christian Fellowship grew into one of the largest churches in the United States.
Lonnie Frisbee died in 1993 due to complications associated with AIDS. Greg Laurie is still alive: today, he is one of the most influential Christian authors in the United States. He has written more than 70 books, and he’s the founder of the Harvest Christian Fellowship and the Harvest Crusades, which are still able to gather thousands of people. All this originated from his encounter with Lonnie Frisbee when he was only 17.
From Chuck Smith to Lonnie Frisbee and Greg Laurie, Jesus Revolution shows us the true story of the Jesus movement, which managed to involve so many young people between the 60s and the 70s. The movie also does a great job of restoring the cultural context of those years, highlighting the consistent role of music in that society.