Greg Laurie - How God Transformed a Generation
Terry: Greg Laurie joins us now. We welcome you on our program.
Greg Laurie: Thank you, Terry. Great to be here.
Terry: you come with such a fascinating story, "The Jesus Revolution". I love the Volkswagen bus on the front page.
Greg Laurie: that's a design we did, but we're actually creating one in real life as well for fun.
Terry: it makes a statement.
Greg Laurie: yeah.
Terry: you and I both came to the Lord in the Jesus Movement, as it was called at that time, in the 1960s, '70s. That was a very turbulent time in our country. Where were you at before you came to Christ?
Greg Laurie: Well, I was without God. I mother was a beautiful woman, literally a Marilyn Monroe look-alike. She was married and divorced seven times. She was a raging alcoholic. I had to grow up quickly and almost be a parent to my own mom because she was that lost. So at the ripe old age of 17, I was asking the big questions of life, like what is the meaning of my life? What am I here? I looked at my mother's world, and I knew the answer was not in the adult world as I knew it. And I got into drugs, along with a lot of other kids in the late '60s. And those drugs did not solve our problems: it created new problems. So it was a process of elimination, seeing where the truth wasn't. And then on my high school campus, there was a little Bible study of Christians meeting together, singing songs about God. I joined them sort of far enough away where I wouldn't be thought as one of them, but close enough to eaves drop. And that's the first time I heard the Gospel in a way I understand.
Terry: Where was the church at that point? What was happening in the church?
Greg Laurie: I think the church was by and large missing the boat. They weren't asking the questions that weren't being asked. When John Lennon was quoted as saying "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus," there was a truth to that. And so I think the church sort of caught up. Because the church was not really connecting to that generation. We don't want those kids in here. We don't want the long hair in here. And you can't come in here barefoot. And here is literally a generation searching for peace, love, joy — and what does the gospel offer? Those things and much more. For the churches that opened their doors to the Jesus Movement, they experienced revival. And for the churches that did not, they missed it.
Terry: What started that revival? My experience with Christ, though I was nurtured in the church after, did not come from the church. How did it start?
Greg Laurie: That's a great question. I don't know if I can answer it exactly. It is almost like little fires started here and there. One person said, if you can explain it, God didn't do it. So I don't know if you can exactly explain how and where it started, but everyone knows it started. In my experience, in California, two people came together, a guy named Chuck Smith, a middle-aged pastor of a relatively small church, and a young hippie guy who became a Christian, who is named Lonnie Frees Bee. And when they came together, it sort of exploded. That was the initial phase of the Jesus Movement as I saw it. But it happened on the East Coast, it happened in Texas, in Europe, and other places. It is really interesting where it popped up. But it was just a spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit around the world, but especially in America.
Terry: I tried to explain it to my kids. I was singing professionally at the time, and spent some time in Los Angeles, and you could drive down the freeway, and somebody would honk their horn and go like this, and everybody knew it meant one way to salvation through Christ. And kids were estatic about finding the truth. What's the similarity? Do you see some between where young people were at then and where they're at now?
Greg Laurie: I really do. I think the country was unraveling at that point.
Terry: Vietnam for one thing.
Greg Laurie: Yeah. 1968, you have Martin Luther King... and young men were coming home from Vietnam in body bags. Riots in the streets. A huge racial division. It looked like the country was falling apart. Add to this the drug epidemic, and the sexual revolution. It is looking so dark. It can almost be summed up by two "Time magazine" covers, one in the late '60s, "Is God dead"? And about three to four years later, a psychedelic image of Jesus on the cover, "Jesus Revolution". What a difference a revival makes. The reason I wrote this book, Terry, "Jesus Revolution," because it has been said that the theme of revival spreads the flame of revival. So I said, I want to tell the story but in a way people understand. And I wrote it with Ellen Vaughn, who is an outstanding writer. It is a lit o little bit of a history lesson, but it takes you there as well. But it comes down to this: I wrote it to a young person. I didn't write it to someone my age, though many my age will read it. But I wrote it as if I was sitting at a table, across a millennial. And I said, here is what happened in my youth. You asked the questions similarities. It was the country coming apart at the seems. Seams. I feel like this generation are looking for authentic. They want something that is real. And I think we have what they're looking for in a relationship with Christ.
Terry: Is the church ready for a movement like that?
Greg Laurie: Some are, and some maybe are not. For the churches that opened the doors to the Jesus Movement, they experienced. But some churches did not open their doors. They said no to those kids. I think we have to be asking ourselves the question, first, am I ready for revival? I once asked pastor Chuck Smith if he thought we would ever see another Jesus Revolution movement? And he said, I don't know if we're desperate enough. I think if God's people get desperate enough to pray and follow 2 Chronicle 14, "If God's people will turn from liar wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their since, and I will heal their land". Are we desperate enough for that pray? Maybe another way to ask it, do I like revival in my own life? Revival is just returning to an original condition, a close relationship with Christ.
Terry: It is a powerful message, and a word for today. And we applaud your leadership in even bringing us to a place of considering all of this. Greg's book is called "Jesus Revolution". It is available wherever books are sold. You can pick up a copy in stores nationwide. It is a wonderful message. I would love to see it. Do it again, God, do it again.
Greg Laurie: Amen. Thank you.