It is very easy to confuse The Jesus Movement with other commune or community based movements of that era. It is hard for such organizations to last in America
, specifically, because the American way is to have your own things, which invarably means to not necessarily or willfully put yourselves at the center of other people's lives in a living, communal environment. When Christian churches began springing up after Christ's death, I'm sure that those living in community were looked at by the surrounding cities of that time as zealot
s, being out of their minds. The resurgence of this in the 60's, both in the traditional hippie circles and the Jesus Movement (which no doubt modeled themselves after the former, something I do not dispute here), was also looked upon with a wary
public eye. Even now, if you were told by your son or daughter, that (s)he was leaving home to live in a commune
, you would likely have some reservations
, either about your child's judgement or the commune's motives. There is a natural anxiety
about such things, something that is taught to us at an early age, as though we were never intended to live in such a way.
While I'm sure some involved in the Jesus Movement went off the deep end, joined cults and sacrficed virgins to abandoned statues of lawn gnomes, not all went crazy as a result, just as I doubt that most hippies who lived in communes at that time came out socially maladjusted. Two good friends of mine, who also head the church I currently attend, were involved in the Jesus Movement and anticipated its arrival. The husband was once in the Navy and went through struggles with drug addiction and exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam prior to becoming a Christian, and the wife belonged to a very musically and spirtually gifted family. How they met I still have not inquired, but after they married they began opening their living home as a church, a meeting place. Their children are around my age, so I would assume that this was taking place in the early 70's. They brought this idea of home-church with them when they moved to New Orleans 8 years ago and established a ministry after separating themselves from JPUSA (Jesus People USA). To this day, we still hold most of our meetings in Billy and Brenda's living room, and the most elaborate we've gotten is to rent the apartment directly behind their place on Bourbon Street and use that as a chapel when the meetings got too large.
Brenda has told me that back when they were all living in community, there would often be several infants that were nursing around the same time. Maggie, Brenda's only daughter, was startled but not shocked to find that she has been breast fed by women other than her mother. Now, that is a little strange, granted, but things like this, in the mindset they are found, are at the heart of real community. If someone's hungry, you feed them. If they need something, you share what you have.
Living to serve others is not a life that promises much. You pool your resources together and everyone pitches in. Whatever little extras you get you count as blessings, and you go back to work. However challenging it may be, I have seen proof enough in my church that it can work, work through generation gaps, marriages, even divorces, and it can bring families together. That's what I think the main thrust of the Jesus Movement was, at its heart: to live as Christ commanded.
For more info on your own dime: http://www.one-way.org/jesusmovement