Hanging Loose and Emerging in 1970

Girard01“There seems to be no way for peple to get free from the notion that Christianity is activity in an organization that owns a building someplace. There is no thought of finding one’s own ministry under the personal leadership of the Holy Spirit. Christians can never get that free from ‘the Church’.”

Bob Girard 1970

This book has impacted Canadian RobbyMac for many years. Robby is now leading an interesting discussion about house churches, “detoxing” from institutional church and this 35 year old book called Bretheren, Hang Loose, by Robert Girard. The series is called Emerging Grace Chronicles: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Emerging Church 1970-2Another 1970 book that is worth the read, if you can find it, is The Emerging Church, by Bruce Larson and Ralph Osborne. I quoted from it last week. Thanks to Dan Kimball, author of a newer book with the same title, for re-discovering this classic book.

I believe the emerging church movement was seeded between1966-69. By 1968 there were a number of new expressions of church (I have counted 10) that were forerunners to what we have today as a contextual response to a new culture – house church, coffee shop, club, intentional community, zines (street sheets) and more. By 1969, emergence theory was being discussed and a computer had talked to another computer through a telephone line.

Many of the books on the Jesus Movement were written in the early 70’s – i have half a dozen of them in my library in California. Amazing to see the links between now and then. Nothing new under the sun. Best resource I have come across is John Smith’s doctoral dissertation (“The Origins, Nature, and Significance of the Jesus Movement as a Revitalization Movement”, 2002). That book cost me (and someone else) $120 which is a lot more than the $3 I paid for The Emerging Church on Amazon. Although The Emerging Church had a way funkier cover.

More on the countercultural origins of the emerging church.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Dan says:

    Having lived through those years, I’m just a year older than Brian McLaren, I can definately see many parallels between the Jesus Movement and today’s emerging conversations.

  • Point of interest, I recently was in touch with Bruce Larson’s wife. Sadly, he is suffering from Parkinsons, so was unable to engage in dialogue about the book. I am still trying to track down Ralph Osborne, with no luck so far. Keep Bruce & Hazel in your prayers.

  • (I see it’s corrected on your site – I can thank Rojo for preserving the original version). In case any of your RSS-using readers are confused, here is some proof that Robby Mac is a man. 🙂

  • David Roberts says:

    May I enquire how you actually get hold of John Smith’s doctoral dissertation?

  • andrew says:

    David, i think he only had about 3 printed, and when i saw him in UK he did not want to bring it back to Australia so he sold it to me.
    Asbury seminary should have a copy

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