I was spiritually raised in a post-Jesus-Movement era by leaders who experienced the awakening first hand. If I could narrow down what I got from them, it was built around the importance of having people pray a prayer of salvation. This was the cornerstone upon which all other components of my faith were laid. If I didn’t have a story to tell about how I witnessed to the person I met in line at the post office in 90 seconds, I felt a little less than whole.
It was commonplace to hear unbelievable illustrations about countless people in that day that were deciding to wake up, abandon their life of sex, drugs and rock and roll and follow Jesus. The stories were fascinating, and to a young college student, inspiring, but there was one major problem; they were told out of context.
The Jesus Movement happened in a unique period of time which, depending on who you cite, began sometime in the late 60’s and effectively was played out within ten years. I do not deny its historical importance and my point is not to criticize it. I am only trying to make sense of the shift that has come since then.
I believe a common yearning in every generation throughout the ages is to see society correct its course away from decline and redirect it toward goodness. I think most of us would agree that in any case, a reduction in crime, a shift in the divorce rate, lower teen pregnancies and greater charitable giving would be preferable. The Jesus Movement was one of those historic times that presented an answer to which many, especially young people, responded.
But I was handed the Jesus Movement ethos as normative, without realizing that the circumstance for it had already passed. My leaders were not aware either, and continued to tell their 15 year old stories, wanting me to replicate their experience. I tried for quite some time, until I discovered we weren’t in the 70’s any longer.
What I have kept with me on my journey toward the future is that same desire to see spiritual awakening occur in a new generation. How it will come about, however, is a whole new ballgame.
Awakening implies a transition from a state of unconscious slumber to one of conscious awareness. I physically underwent that shift this morning around 5am, when I no longer was asleep, to getting up out of bed, making a cup of coffee and typing this post. Does this same changeover occur spiritually? I believe so, and here’s why I think that way.
It has to do with why so many people leaving the Church As We Know It.
The last 30 years after the Jesus Movement has allowed a person like me to become aware of how I have been asleep. I am awakening to find what is not working, and to seeing what needs to be done, and eventually toward what could be, if only I stop looking for results that happened in the past. We can’t recreate the Jesus Movement, or the Student Volunteer Movement or the First and Second Great Awakenings, nor should we. It’s time to wake up to a brand new day, one with new mercies and new beginnings.
I would be willing to guess that the reason you read this blog is because the topics about which I choose to write are connecting with you in some way, that they arouse your spirit and make you ponder whether or not you are stirring from your sleep also.
Future Pastor, lets look ahead, not behind. Let the past inspire us, but not limit us. I’ll continue this vein of thought soon…