Christian Festivals and the Jesus Movement

I am REALLY PUMPED about speaking at Cornerstone Festival in a few weeks. Its been 12 years since I was there. In 1999 our family turned up in our Winnebago, set up camp and met a stack of friends, in particular the DJ's who ended up camping around us and throwing underground parties late at night. Lots of fun at Cstone '99.

Here's some thoughts and useless trivial facts about Christian music festivals in general and the Jesus Movement that gave them birth.

– Although there are similarities to old time Chrstian tent revivals, Christian Musical Festivals were actually born out of the Jesus Movement that started around 1967. I was 4 years old at the time and had nothing to do with it. Really.

– On June 21, 2011, it will be 40 years since Time Mag published the famous Jesus cover in the issue that explored this wild new movement.

– With the Jesus movement underway, the first Christian festivals in USA started in 1970 with Faith Festival (Youth For Christ), Icthus Music Festival (Asbury Seminary), and The Love Song Festival in 1971. Explo '72 (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Dallas, with an attendance of 80,000, brought attention to what was happening.

– In 1970, Greg X Volz was singing with the "E Band" at the Faith Festival and [BONUS] he will be playing Cornerstone this year with Petra which was formed in 1972. Glenn Kaiser and Rez Band (started 1972) obviously will be playing Cornerstone. Also performing is Randy Stonehill, who I almost interviewed at Greenbelt. Randy has been around since the early days. The band Servant (I keep in touch with Owen and Sandie Brock) will be playing Cstone also, as will Barry McGuire who I also met … once . . .briefly . . but I am sure he will remember esp. since Barry married a kiwi girl.

– I have never met Greg X Volz. But I am sure he is looking forward to that moment with great expectation.

– Christian festivals have continued to grow in the last decade. Christian Festivals in USA with an attendance over 5000 grew from only 5 in 2000 to 35 in 2006. [Source]

– At the Jesus Festival in 1974, "Randy Matthews was "chased off stage by a crowd which pronounced him to be demon or drug possessed due to his musical style" which was influenced by rock music more than folk music. Wikipedia

– Christian festivals that I frequent most include Greenbelt (UK), Slot Art Fest (Poland) and Freakstock (Germany). Last year I went to the 2 best Christian Festivals in New Zealand  – Parachute Festival which had 23,000 people and PassionFest with about 300 people. We enjoyed PassionFest the most and hope to return.

Creation Fest, the largest Christian music festival in USA, helped to sponsor Friendship Fest in Morocco which I hope will happen again. I havent been to Creation Fest but I think it's a bit more mainstream than what I am used to.

– My picks for USA are Purple Door and TOM (I dont think Mikee is running it this year) and good ol' Cornerstone.

– A new festival this year in USA is Wild Goose Festival. I stopped by North Carolina last year and talked to some of the organizers who are friends of mine from the emerging church stream. This festival is somewhat inspired by Greenbelt in UK and will have a strong focus on social justice. It will be also be theologicaly wider than other festivals so you are guaranteed to feel uncomfortable. Which is not always a bad thing. I will not be attending (Cornerstone invited me first) but I recommend checking it out, especially in its first year. Be part of history!

– I have been collecting books on the Jesus movement for 15 years, ever since I started ministering in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 90's. I am a bit of a geek on the subject and many of my older books are from the library of the late Francis DuBose. But I  have 2 friends that have done a lot more research than I have and can speak with more authority:

John Smith who did his PhD on the impact of the Jesus movement, and

– David di Sabitino, who informed you with his Jesus Movement history, amused you with his movie on Lonnie Frisbee, and really messed you up with his documentary on Larry Norman.

 I have some thoughts on the missing link between the Jesus Movement and the current day global emerging church movement . ..  which I hope to speak on at Cornerstone and publish something on the blog soon.

Nuff for now . . .

Shameless Plug: Hear me teach at Cornerstone. Details here.


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.


  • If I grew up during the ’60s and ’70s, I definitely would have been a Jesus Freak! Except for the part about becoming Pentecostal.

  • rick says:

    The iMonk takes a different focus on festivals here:
    I think it is interesting how deeply the festival style has influenced weekly worship.

  • Brian Hull says:

    I just finished attending the 41st Ichthus Music Festival ( last night! Timely post. Started the year after Woodstock by two Asbury seminary students, the event had a second year only after the two organizers realized they made $29 “profit” and did not know what to do with it. Not wanting to keep it themselves, they decided to use the money to do it another year. Thanks goes to the faithful visionaries who started these events!

  • Andrew says:

    brian, thats amazing. i didnt know it was still going. how . . . historic!

  • Andrew says:

    Rick, IM’s post, from 2002, is more about CCM than festivals. I share his concerns about CCM and take company with other critics of CCM who have more ownership than I . . like Steve Camp and also Pastor Bob Beeman – who will be at Cornerstone also this year. Both guys were helping to start the CCM movement and both have significant reservations about it.
    as for its impact on worship, i am more influenced by the alt. worship movement than the heavy stage-led presence of CCM.

  • R.H. says:

    Interesting article. I liked Larry Norman and his Gospel-centric approach to music. I wish some of the newer acts would follow his example. One who has kept Jesus “front and centre” is that Aussie chap from Jars of Clay who went out on his own. Can’t think of his name, but he lives in Tenn. now. Look forward to readin more from you. Found this page via “Cultural Creatives” e-bulletin (Shane).

  • Ed Stetzer says:

    Totally jealous.
    As a teen, I attended (every year) “Jesus Orlando.” It was a great influence. My girlfriend (now wife) would listen to the music and teaching. It was amazing.
    If they ever need a speaker who is not cool, let me know. 😉

  • Andrew says:

    Ed, if you are cool enough for last weeks SBC annual meeting then i am sure Cornerstone will take you.

  • Joshrhone says:

    Creation Fest takes place just a few miles from our place. You can bunk with us or park your camper on our church property should you ever want to attend.

  • Andrew says:

    thanks josh. our expedition vehicle is usually in Europe/Africa but we have tents in USA. love to do that.

  • Tim Sokell says:

    D’you mean you didn’t start the Jesus Movement then Andrew?! 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    Oh . . I am sure I did! I just cant remember . . that’s all. You know, with Kindergarten and shifting from nappies to pants and learning to pee in the toilet and all those things I was doing in the 60’s . . it was just really busy but i am sure i started something.

  • Amber-Lee says:

    This would have been my 5th consecutive year at Cstone, but I’ve moved and don’t have the vacation time yet OR money. Next year in Jerusalem I guess…
    BTW, been reading your blog for a bit. I was so excited to find a Kiwi blog. I lived there in 2006 and miss it every day.

  • Brian Christensen says:

    Good article…I remember getting the JP mag at a local record store and the talk about the festivals. My daughter is volunteering at Creation West (wish I could go, but alas work).

  • Andrew says:

    thanks Amber Lee. The world needs more Kiwi blogs, thats for sure.
    i was born in NZ and finally made it back this year after a 16 year break. LOVE that country
    i guess my blog is a bit more of a global perspective, with a wicked kiwi sense of humor.

  • Rob says:

    hey thanks for this. I did a post this week on should we only listen to Christian music that might interest:

  • Eric says:

    I’m a documentary film director and I’ve recently finished my Movie Trailer for “Christ in the Homeless” You can get more information regarding the story by visiting my Facebook site.
    Thanks, Eric

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