The Calvary Chapel Chronicles: The Music, By Tom Stipe

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93 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    “We were not reaching “out” to the culture, we were not “infiltrating” the young people of our society, working the dry mechanics of “relevance” to disguise our faith, only then to surprise our listeners with our religious agenda.”

    I like this sentence.

    It seems to happen this way, often. God does a spontaneous work, a lot happens without too much planning, then the moment begins to fade (like the glory of Moses’ face) and there is a panicky effort to hang on by increasingly artificial means.

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Simply superb. At first (while on the coast) I thought this could only be happening at CC. Back in Indiana, my friend Bob Hartman, started forming Petra; then Larry and Randy started touring; then I befriended John and Terry Talbot in Indianapolis… It was happening all over the country with, it seems, no coordination (except, perhaps, from above). May I also “amen” your comment on singer/songwriter artists. We didn’t want to become “young gospel singers”… we wanted to be Jackson Browne with our own Christian perspective.

    Again, thanks for a great article…

  3. Michael says:


    I think you hit the sweet spot…that paragraph nailed it.

  4. Michael says:


    I thought you’d appreciate this one… 🙂

  5. Erunner says:

    Thanks for your article Tom. In 1976 I came to faith at one of those Saturday night concerts at CCCM. Gentle Faith and Erick Nelson were the musicians and I am pretty sure you brought the message after the concert. An on line friend was the man who directed me and others to the prayer room after we responded to the altar call.

    I still remember every detail of that evening. I was totally blown away that were so many young people with no cussing which was a part of my life. Their was so much joy in the sanctuary it was like being in another world for me.

    The music captivated me. I was and still am a music geek. I listen to music all of the time. I had never heard people singing about God as I did that night. It sounded a lot like the singer songwriter music Ihad been listening to since the mid 60’s.

    I’ve read so much about the music through the years and realize people have various opinions about it. The music of those years remains in my collection today. I’m one of untold thousands who came to faith during those years. Thanks again. Allan

  6. Xenia says:

    It’s hard to blame people.

    Because God is bringing in a lot of new believers to your church, it’s hard to think that God isn’t somehow extremely pleased with you in a special way, maybe above all other churches. You think you are the apple of God’s eye and it would take a humility few people possess to think otherwise. So you start making big plans, imagining God is your partner in all your ambitions, and you build buildings, start up ministries and money becomes an issue. Either you have too much or not enough but it somehow takes center stage whether you want it to or not. Your elder/board meetings become all about money… how to get it or how to spend it. God doesn’t leave (He never does) but you have now assumed the central position in the story and He leaves you to it, pretty much. This often happens even if you hate that it’s happening because the works of man have gotten so big you can’t back out.

  7. Xenia says:

    It’s so nice to see you, Erunner.


  8. Michael says:


    Thanks for sharing that.
    My hypotheses is that the music was every bit as important as the other factors in this revival…maybe more so.
    I’m glad Tom chose to add his eyewitness account …

  9. Erunner says:

    Thank you Xenia. Nice to see you as well.

  10. Rick says:

    I miss the innocence of those days; I heard Tom Stipe say that he could have read from a phone book and people would have come to Christ in those early days.

  11. Erunner says:

    You’re welcome Michael. The first time I heard a praise song at CCCM at a Sunday morning service it was as impactful as was the concert. It was the Shepherd Song taken from Isaiah 40.

    I agree 100% about the importance the music had in those years. That’s why I dedicated a day each week to praise music on my blog. It has a way of soothing the soul. One of many types of music that God has and still uses to minister to His people.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It would be interesting for hear from some what the attraction was to “the Jesus Movement” at the time.
    I would think I was a prime candidate – I lived in Orange County – we hung around the beaches – I was in college 1967 – 71 at Cal State Fullerton – I was a long haired anti war protester and my wife and I used to hang around Hollywood and Sunset Blvds for the freaks and the music scene.

    Until my wife told me she wanted to start taking the kids to church in 1981 (because as Americans, we take the kids to church), at the age of 32 (CC Riverside was recommended by a sister in law) I had never heard of CC, the Jesus movement or anything related.

    So how did some of you, the early Jesus People get hooked in?

  13. ( |o )====::: says:

    Thanks for this article. <3
    I moved to Orange County in 1978 to try to become a Maranatha! musician, became a regular at CCCM, especially the Saturday Night concerts. I quickly learned that unless I could write songs there wasn't going to be a place for me, so I continued in my ministry as a musician in the role of "worship leader" with a partnership of a lead elder who would ask me to linger, play a chorus over or instrumental as we gave space to experiencing the presence of God.

    I was asked to do music at the "afterglow" gathering that followed the Thursday night study. It was the get together of closeted Calvary charismatics who sought the Holy Spirit for prophesy, interpretation of tongues, healing, etc. It was a time of sweet communion with other worshipers.

    I've long since moved on, continued my journey of service in other settings and will remain forever thankful that there were people in those early ministries who were willing to let a young man with a guitar join in.

  14. Duane Arnold says:


    Someone witnessed to me on a beach and invited me to a Bible study… just about that simple.

  15. victorious says:

    So my testimony takes place after the explosive Jesus People years but with the fire of the gospel still burning and the rive of the Spirit still flowing as I was converted in the summer of 1984.

    I had multiple people for 8 years to varying degrees ,witnessing to me with the words of the Gospel and by their lives lived in the Gospel. I never once went to an event, Sunday service or Bible Study until I was converted in my bedroom with first me and then me and the presence of Jesus.

    After I was saved and because of relationships with believers, I found myself on Sunday mornings at a Vineyard in Newport Beach and CCCM at a mid week Bible Study.

  16. ( |o )====::: says:

    “So how did some of you, the early Jesus People get hooked in?”

    I got saved on Good Friday, 1971, immediately following the Stations of The Cross service at St. John The Baptist Roman Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, Ca.

    I had been a seeker for about 6mos prior, having a keen interest in wanting to know God for a simplistic reason, I wanted to know Who to thank for my life, for the world I was born into, for art, music, beauty. I was a student photographer, becoming more and more aware of the joy of living.

    I had friends who were “Jesus People”, who were always talking about Jesus, the Gospels, and how wonderful it was to know God personally through Jesus.

    When I had completed that service I sat by myself quietly in the center left side of the church while it emptied of paritioners when I prayed what my hippie friends told me was “the sinners’ prayer” and asked Jesus to count me as one who he died for, and that I wanted to follow Him, and was thankful for Him answering my prayer of Who to thank. It wasn’t Krishna, it wasn’t Jehovah, it wasn’t any on else but Jesus, and that prayer has been my lifelong prayer of gratitude when I am at a loss, reeling from failure, hurt, rejection, or when my artistic inner critic is out of control.

    Thank you Jesus.

    I moved to Southern California to be part of that Jesus People Movement, which had many great blessings, including meeting my wife of 37 years.

    Jesus’ People are still moving, living, loving, creating, flourishing, planted where we’ve been scattered, watered by His presence, right where we’re at.

  17. pstrmike says:

    All in all a good article from someone who was there on the inside. I could, along with others who participate here, write an addendum to what Tom has write that I think would support what he is saying. It was the music that was the draw.

    Culture is expressed through the arts, and with evangelicals, music is often the main artistic voice. I grew up in a SBC church just up the 405 from Calvary. It was good church, but the cultural norms and patterns were still finding difficulty in slowly moving away from a late 50’s to early 60’s expression. Calvary was attractive because the music was similar to what was current, and yes, we called it “relevant ” (even if we used a different term). While most traditional churches were expressions of the older generation, Calvary was a boomer generation church.

    How shocked I was the first time I attended a Sunday morning service at CCCM. It was much the same as my conservative SBC church. Saturday night concerts were a huge draw because of the music. The concerts usually had two bands, and then Tom Stipe would come out and preach an evangelical message, and people would respond to the gospel. Through the years I remember more and more people leaving after the second band had done their set, just before Stipe got up to preach. One night Stipe gave them a much needed rebuke, and I heard in my head Don McLean singing “the day, the music died.” I moved away from SoCal shortly after that.

  18. Jerod says:

    “We witnessed culture penetrating evangelism against a backdrop of Biblical literacy. ”

    I have a thought. Need to know if it’s correct and, if it is, if its problematic.

    Is it true that biblically, a protege was supposed to be more adept somehow than their teacher (save for Christ Himself, of course)? I think of Joshua, Elisha, Solomon, the Apostles and their proteges (whose works were greater in number than Christ’s as He said), etc.
    If that’s true then isn’t it problematic that there is not an increase in biblical education OR works within Calvary?
    Same could be said of many of us, I suppose.

    There are not so many birds in our tree anymore. The fruit is laterally transferring itself from one branch to another.

  19. Jerod says:

    I particularly remember Andre Crouch and Keith Green being played on my Mom’s fancy cassette deck in our station wagon.I was youngest, so I had to ride on the “rumble” seat -that hard metal plank in the back with no seats that got hot over the wheel wells.

    To this day Through It All and Make My Life A Prayer To You are what I play for lullabies.
    Geez, nostalgia and sweaty eyeballs…

  20. Steven says:

    The more I consider it, the more convinced I am that the CC Movement was the perfect storm…at least initially.

  21. Michael says:

    I thinks that’s an excellent observation…

  22. Corby says:

    Love this post from Tom. In many way’s he is one of my heroes. I know that revival is never formulaic (externally at least), but one thing I see in this post and past conversations with Tom is that a passion for Jesus and a passion for music (which is something that has mass appeal anyway) = a draw to a platform for gospel/Bible teaching and living. The stuffy culture of church was being stripped away and a more accessible and “common” culture was being allowed to exist.

    So my question becomes ( and it isn’t a new one for me or people who study this kind of stuff) what does this look like today? Passion for Jesus infused into a passion for some form of expression? Here in the PNW, music isn’t a draw anymore. It just isn’t. At least not nearly like it was pre 1990. There are lots of reasons for this, and maybe the ease of access to music is a large factor.

    Or, maybe like generations of revivals before, it doesn’t connect with a form of expression (like music). It’s just people genuinely in love with Jesus and living like it, which has nothing to do with politics and subcultures and other trappings.

    I love this post because it disconnects the idea that it was just Chuck teaching the Bible that was the main thing. That doesn’t discount him, but what it does do is put it in the framework. It also wasn’t just the music. It was, like Chuck used to say, the Spirit of God working in the people of God through the word of God. It’s a more holistic picture than what we were taught in Bible college. Teach it and they will come. No, not exactly.

  23. Michael says:

    You nailed the reason I asked Tom to do this… trying to create a holistic picture of what actually happened.

  24. Tom Stipe says:

    That was a major point I was intending to make in addition to restating some tried and true elements of evangelism.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Might I add, that the “perfect storm” also happened in places that had not really even heard a great deal about CCCM. The Adam’s Apple in Indiana, JPUSA in Chicago, Love Inn in New York…it was all over the place. They were all different, but the elements of Bible study, music, an accepting atmosphere, outreach outside the walls of the church, etc., were the same. Last Autumn I was talking to Glenn Kaiser of Rez Band. He could remember going out to get a hamburger, witnessing to someone, praying with them to receive Christ, giving them directions and times for Bible studies and then going on his way to the diner. That sort of thing happened all the time…

    Now the big question… Why is that not happening now?

  26. Babylon's Dread says:

    No one stirred me more talking about that era than Tom Stipe as he generously reminisced over these things with me a few years ago. It is good to see his offering here and to remember that music turned a moment into a movement. The charisms of the early apostles of that era were magnified by the sounds that burst forth from the hearts and hands of these early adherents.

    I was 2000 miles away and got swept in without even knowing it was a thing. August 1972 the good news found my ears an elevated my heart into new life.

    Thank you Tom.

  27. pstrmike says:

    “History, like beauty, is always in the eye of the beholder and either can be interpreted in many ways.”

    dread sed:
    “No one stirred me more talking about that era than Tom Stipe as he generously reminisced over these things with me a few years ago.”

    You are in a unique position of having experienced so much of this from a CCCM POV. You should write your memoirs into a book.

  28. Bob says:

    Tom, whatever happened to Randy Zigler? He was the honey that drew the surf crowd at CCCM back in the late 70’s

  29. Bob says:

    Oh and thank you Tom for a fresh memory of The Way, that some of us were so blessed to have experienced at CCCM so long ago… liquid love!

  30. Erunner says:

    I guess we have a lot of senior citizens commenting! 🙂 In retrospect time sure has flown by as things have moved from the ’60’s and 70’s to now.

    I read a book (maybe suggested here) that offered a comprehensive look at the Jesus Movement dating back to the ’50’s that encompassed the entire country. It was amazing to read of the ministries and individuals God worked through. Several of them were very carnal in their ways as they thought they could live the free love and drug lifestyle alongside their Christianity.

    Duane seems to have alluded to this in his 1:11 post.

  31. Jim Jacobson says:

    That was a great read! Thanks for contributing Tom.

  32. Jeff Sheckstein says:


    A number of years ago Randy went into the mortgage business. He passed maybe some eight to ten years ago.

  33. Bob says:

    Thank you Sheck 😉 may his soul be resting in Shalom… I miss the blog!

  34. Dave Rolph says:

    This was so good and hearing the thoughts of a variety of people who confirm what Tom is saying resonates with me. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that, although the musicians were really key, a lot of them had limited longevity which caused their places in history to fade all too quickly. Musical tastes change so quickly that a musician can appear to be corny a lot sooner than a preacher. (An old preacher has maturity and wisdom, where old musicians are more seen as pathetic has-beens. For musicians, being cool is their calling card. Preachers aren’t even cool when they are young. All the Jesus People reunions make preachers look seasoned and musicians look ancient.) And as musicians tend to be a more emotionally fragile bunch they tended to fall by the wayside sooner than preacher types. This was exacerbated by the preachers seeing artists as disposable commodities, as just window dressing for the “headliner” preacher. And because preachers had a home base while musicians were itinerant the preachers controlled most of the purse strings.

    Tom Stipe has ministered to me for 47 years and I don’t know a finer man. Having someone who still remembers is so refreshing when we are sometimes surrounded by pretenders.

  35. Ike says:

    Awesome history lesson!

    What happened later with the music?

    I was a teenager in Texas hearing Crumbacher, Undercover, Daniel Amos, and the Lifesavors for the first time.

    It was exciting after being raised on Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, and Sandy Patti in youth group!

    Why did Chuck shut it down?

  36. Tom Stipe says:

    Ultimately it became about economics and the lack therof. To their defense the early record label heads did not know what to do with the sudden popularity of the music. As non-musicians (thinking middle C was a multi-vitamin) their lack of experience in marketing, communication and distribution was understandable and forgivable. The first distributor was one man, the trunk of his car and his destination……..Bible Bookstores. On the other side of the coin people like myself were spending competitive money making those records. After some flirtation with mainstream labels and distribution the genre settled into the unfortunate monicker of “Contemporary Christian Music.” This immediately isolated the art form from its original live audiences and could only be found next to the devotionals at the local family bookstore. This drastically reduced the return on investment. There is no reason that the artist driven albums should not have been available there, it just limited the buyers choices. Another reason for the “shutdown” was the musicians themselves were not seen as missionaries to the culture, which they were. So, as Dave put it, they were relegated to the parallel universe of “itinerancy.” That is another article for another time.

  37. JM says:

    Wow! Lots of names I haven’t heard in ages! What an incredible walk down Memory Lane.

  38. Kevin H says:

    This was a great read. It is good to hear the perspective of someone who was close and quite involved in a lot of these happenings. Thank you for writing this Tom Stipe.

    From the pulpit of the CC I attend, I often hear about how one must be faithful to simply teaching the Bible (often with the qualifier of it being verse by verse teaching) for God to then provide (i.e. attracting a crowd, growing a church, a revival happening, etc.). This is how Chuck Smith did it we are often told as evidence of such. Rarely any mention of the music or the other factors that went into what happened with the Jesus People Movement and/or CCCM (and most definitely never the mention of the name of Lonnie Frisbee).

    This never sat right with me as I know of plenty of pastors and churches where they simply taught the Bible, sometimes even verse by verse, and yet God did not “provide” in these ways. It was obvious that things weren’t as simply formulaic for “success” as they were made out to be. It was good to read of this greater perspective and the “perfect storm” of circumstances where God moved greatly.

  39. Ike says:

    I look forward to the article Tom.

    I also appreciated your CC pastor conference tapes where you explained why you went back to basic bible teaching I think in the late 90’s.

    Not trying to chase a squirrel, just wanted to let you know your YouTube and old cassettes are helping me keep it simple and focus on what is most important!

  40. Dave Rolph says:

    Yeah Kevin, the simplistic idea that you simply teach the Bible, verse by verse, and your church will explode is not supported by the facts. There are hundreds of churches that teach verse by verse but don’t grow. Lonnie didn’t teach verse by verse ever. In the boom years Tom Stipe brought more people to Christ than anyone and he wasn’t teaching chapter by chapter and book by book on Saturday nights. And what most people don’t realize is that, although Chuck taught through the Bible verse by verse on Sunday nights, his Sunday morning messages were closer to topical than verse by verse and Sunday mornings were always 4 or 5 times the size of Sunday nights. Most people who were saved at Calvary were saved on Sunday mornings or Saturday nights (as well as the various Monday nights, Tuesday nights and other topical studies.) Historical revisionism is stronger than reality though.

    By the way, someone asked about Randy Ziegler. Randy died a couple years ago. I did his funeral and heard a ton of exciting stories about how God had used Randy in peoples’ lives. He is another crazy guy who was written out of the CC history books. Jimmy Kempner too.

  41. pstrmike says:

    “This immediately isolated the art form from its original live audiences and could only be found next to the devotionals at the local family bookstore.”

    A funny story about that. I was living in Orange County and working at an Italian Ice shop. There was a young woman who worked there that was absolutely beside herself with anticipation of the new Richie Furay Band album that was set to be released. Funny thing was, this young woman was not a Christian, but a total pothead. The day the album came out, she was so excited and brought it to work to show me. I looked at the back cover and saw a picture of Tom, Jay Truax, and John, the former drummer of Love Song with Richie. I was about to tell her this was a Christian album, but felt the Spirit telling me to be quiet. I left after the summer was over, but you never know what the Spirit might do.

  42. Eric says:

    I love hearing about recent church history – the stories of God at work in times & places not too different from my own. Boomer Christians like my parents who were students in the 70s saw themselves as part of the Christian counterculture.

    I was surprised when Michael explained some weeks ago that music was a big driver rather than just the fruit of the movement. But as I think of other exciting episodes of church history, music has been a big part of them too.

    In the 00s my church was in the emerging missional school of thought, where we dismissed the idea that we could make the music awesome and the crowds would come a la Sister Act, and we’d preach the gospel to full houses.

    Music was such a big part of the success of one of Australia’s largest churches that they changed their name to Hillsong, which had been the name of their music ministry.

    In 98-04 my brother was part of the Christian music scene here, where there were several bands (punk, hardcore etc). I don’t know how much of that scene exists today. Our pastor, a big fan of Keith Green, pumped us full of bible hoping that there would be biblically fluent songwriters for our generation.

  43. Linnea says:

    This is great…thank you Tom! It was wonderful reading the comments, and appreciated Xenia’s 1st comment.

    I’m not a great musician, but I have sung in a number of choirs of different types. Nothing connects the head and the heart more effectively than music. It’s easy to stay in your head when studying the Bible or when teaching it. It’s almost impossible to stay there when effective worship accompanies.

  44. brian says:

    Tom this is a very good article. Thank You for the effort.

  45. JD says:

    Duane @ 1:11
    “Now the big question… Why is that not happening now?”
    Because it’s all about money now.

  46. seraphim says:

    @ Corby

    Some of you pointed out that music was one of the big draws of the Jesus Movement, and I believe that someone asked where this is happening today.

    Well I think Hillsong Music and Hillsong Church is the closest thing that resembles this today.

    Hillsong church is gathering quite a bit of influence in Hollywood with people like Justin Bieber (only one of the most famous people today), Selena Gomez, Christ Pratt, and some of the Kardashians, and Kanye West. They are now being dubbed the new Christian Hollywood.

    Some of the big name younger pastors in America are connected to Hillsong Church. Guys like Carl Lentz (Hillsong NYC), Chad Veach (in Los Angeles), and Rich Wilkerson.

    I have a feeling that most of the people on this platform might just be unaware of how big Hillsong is becoming among Generation X and Y.

    I’m not saying that Hillsong is on par with the Jesus movement of the 60s, but there is definitely something big happening there.

    I’d be curious what some of your thoughts are.

  47. seraphim says:

    @ Corby

    One last thing, you live in the PNW right? Well I think you forget about Marshill Church. One of the big drivers at Marshill church was the music!!

    Many of the indie bands, and other great young upcoming musicians in the Seattle area were connected to Marshill Church. In the early days Marshill owned a theater known as the “Paradox” it was the only all ages music venue in Seattle, it drew in great artist and thousands of young people.

    This gave Marshill a huge advantage in growing, as it recruited many of the young people who attended the Paradox, and many of the musicians to come to the church. In those early days Marshill grew rapidly, and in some ways was not really planned.

    Of course its not on par with the Jesus Movement, but it does show how a mix of young restless people and music can create quite the spark.

    The rest is history!

  48. UnCCed says:

    I enjoyed this article, like other true interpretations (I think) of those days because it reminds me of my conversion really late to the party – CC was the first place I encountered where I really felt (or should say
    “it seemed,” now I know better) people and by their example, God, was really going to accept me, or at least give God time to change me.
    Boy was I wrong, but I believe God allowed my confusion for a very years while I could receive a really good Biblical foundation and begin to ignore “the church.”
    My point is, what I believe CC lost long ago was the (albeit accidental) perception put forth/allowed the God still uses knuckleheads and rejects. Though MUCH later than the hippie era I wasn’t around for, that REALLY appealed to me.
    Of course I soon experienced the reality – you were expected to be a clone of whatever local Moses/King retained approval for every little detail in “his ministry.”
    Well, none of them were with me in the jungles and deserts, few of them ever saw/experienced what I did, but God was there and knows everything, He’s sufficient to be my Pastor.

  49. Tom’s article makes me think how music has been influential in other moves of God throughout history. For example, the hymns composed by Martin Luther were an integral and important part of the Reformation. One article points out, “For him, religious music was not just for remote priests and choirs. Instead, it was ‘next to theology’ and a ‘gift from God’. As such, it should be accessible to everyone. After all, he wrote, ‘by embellishing and ornamenting their tunes in wonderful ways, [singers could] lead others into a heavenly dance’.” Sounds much like the Jesus music of the 1960s-70s. The importance and lasting influence of Luther’s music is indicated in the following article (from which the above quote was taken):

  50. Victorious says:

    Yes music has been integral in other movements. Thinking of the brothers, Wesley. John and Charles.

  51. pstrmike says:

    thanks seraphim. I know very little about Hillsongs aside from what I listen to or read on occasion on the web. The last Christian bookstore closed down here about a year ago, and while their selection was not always what I wanted (in books), they were at least a communication line to some degree of some the bigger things that were happening in the church. Everything changes.

    I spent a few days at Bethel Church last year; it reminded of Calvary in the earlier years – both in their positive expressions and the latent sense of elitism that I perceived from talking with some of the rank and file. I heard the word “cemetery” there in a small group, and I enjoyed telling that person who used that word that I was a seminary student and was there for research on my doctorate . 🙂

    I Moved away from SoCal and years later found a Calvary Chapel to attend. I experienced that same paradigm shift that you described. In part it was the difference between being an attender and one who became involved in the ministry. Perhaps we’ll talk about that more as the Chronicles move along.

  52. The Least of These says:

    Dave Rolph stated, “And as musicians tend to be a more emotionally fragile bunch they tended to fall by the wayside sooner than preacher types. This was exacerbated by the preachers seeing artists as disposable commodities, as just window dressing for the “headliner” preacher. And because preachers had a home base while musicians were itinerant the preachers controlled most of the purse strings.”

    Finally an honest comment on the treatment of individuals who serve through music. I have long stated that the current state of many churches is no longer a hunger for a holy moment, but rather the music has become that which serves as the opening act to the real show- the pastor’s preaching. The style and look of the performer, the musical genre, and the presentation has to line up with something in the pastor’s head that makes them feel like it represents an extension of their tastes and wishes. It should be hip, cool, stylish, mostly male with a guitar and most importantly- young. Musicians are seen disposal commodities as Dave so aptly stated.

    As for the emotionally fragile part, there is this artistic temperament issue with musicians. Good music is emotive, so therefore the ability to access those emotions must exist or the music is in someway dishonest and simply a show. Musicians can be temperamental and difficult because the weight of performance carries with it a certain kind of terror of failure mixed with responsibility to perform. And they can be arrogant. Adoration for one’s talents, and the resultant feelings of “specialness” is an addictive and warping element in music. Add human frailty to the mix and musicians can be a temperamental lot. But, I digress. Dave’s point is correct in that many Pastors see music as fulfilling a role in the entire Sunday morning experience so they can preach. And if that means you can swell the pews by bringing in the stars, then so be it.

    Things have changed since those early Jesus People days. Worship is now a business and this has infected everything. In addition, churches now have to decide to be multi-generational or youth oriented. (I know of a recent church start up which opened up a dialogue in the community about it’s new plant by asking for only 25-35 year old prospective church members to be a part of the “planting Picnic”. Over 40 need not attend.) We have adopted secular music tactics and ascribed them to functional church music as we created “stars” and “wannabes”. As such the industry of music and it’s intersection within church life has made it such that real art can not thrive. Sadly, I find very little wonder anymore in the day to day, week to week, worship experience.

    Not to mention, I have had my heart broken so many times I can not bear it any longer. I have all but quit music on the inside of me. Playing worship from where I sit has now become more of the peck on the cheek you give someone as you head out the door. Everything is perfunctory. Passion is not allowed, at least not at my age, not from where I stand. Those feelings were deadened by the adultery of mismanagement, preferred cliques, and unending abuse of positional authority. And it’s been about money (like the time I was asked to play for a well funded So Cal church, I was told to bring a band- so I did- I hired great cats from LA and we crushed it. I got a standing O on a Wednesday night. As I was leaving I was given a handshake and I realized I just footed the bill for the band- which was not cheap. When I called the pastor back saying I never got paid the response was “well what do you want from me?” My retort was, “for you to keep your word and pay me for the band.” I eventually got a check for half of the agreed amount. I was out of pocket for the rest. He knew what he did. He had no shame. I left wounded and feeling unvalued for the 1000’s of hours of rehearsal and practice that went in to a 20 minute performance. It felt personal because it was.)

    Tom’s insight was compelling on many levels. All of it from both the perspective of pastor and musician, artist and CEO and it is all true and well stated. I don’t think Chuck Smith planned any of what happened. It was the perfect storm, a collision of culture and Christianity that was Camelot for a portion of time. For a few blissful years it was Jesus and community and unconditional love- or so it appeared and those values were promoted openly. Until the day came when King Arthur failed in his duties and he left himself open for extortion by those he loved most and monies went where they should not have gone and puppet kingdoms rose and fell and rose again built by crafty men in pursuit of their own desires and the Spirit of God departed the house while the band played on…

  53. Michael says:

    One of the best and most informative threads in years…thank you all.

  54. Tom Stipe says:

    The Least of These,
    I have no words except brilliant, hamble and inspired. Thank You from all of us.

  55. Tom Stipe says:

    Sorry, “humble,” I was typing with some emotion.

  56. Em says:

    “…the Spirit of God departed the house while the band played on…” Wow! I read the thots of The Least of These thinking this person can write and this is the makings of a book of some sort . … “Pastor, Are You a Shepherd Or A Wolf?”. . err something.. dunno

  57. pstrmike says:

    I think all pastors have the potential to be a wolf; its an occupational hazard, you might say. The church has never learned what “power made perfect in weakness” actually means.

    The Least of These described the fruit of some attributes inherent in the Moses Model. Such treatment as TL of T experienced/described is not limited to musicians, I had the same treatment whether I brought my guitar or notes to teach a class at a SoM. When we get into the Moses Model segment of The Chronicles, the discussion should prove to be lively.

  58. Em says:

    Pstrmike, it seems to me – FWIW – a pastor should be a leader… Otherwise, isn’t he better defined as a teacher (the good, honest ones)? I, myself, would hate to see my pastor unable to put his foot down and take a stand, when his sheep needed directing, for fear of overstepping … My definition of a wolf is the personality, perhaps narcissistic megalomaniac. ? , who sees the Church as their opportunity ….
    Come to think of it, Moses model is kind of interesting choice as Moses had God’s thumb in his back pushing him all the way…. It’s one thing to mouth the the words, God chose me, and quite another to, like Moses, know He did…. course, if one is delusional ? ? ? God, give us sheep wisdom…. sigh

  59. Corby says:

    @seraphim – I would say the difference, perhaps in an oversimplified way, between the jesus people music and hillsong and how it was used in marshill, could be summed up in the difference between grass roots vs commercial. In the 60s/early 70s is was very grass roots. To me, stuff like Hillsong and Bethel feels mostly commercial. It’s not Jesus, its the event that feels spiritual and feels like Jesus so its equated to Jesus. It’s predictably reproducible. I’m not saying God can’t or hasn’t moved in the lives of individuals through what they produce, but more often than not, when they come through town with their worship concerts, what people post on social media after going is virtually identical to what the same people post after going to Taylor Swift or whoever. It’s a concert experience that produces an exhilarating feeling that is the same feeling in both contexts. It’s largely what churches use to get and keep people in the seats. When I hear people describe particular churches with expressions like “The music is so great” or “The speaker is so energetic” they might as well be saying “It was a great show.”

    So, from where I sit, I would say that production-centric stuff like Hillsong or Bethel is not really comparable to what happened back in the day. It’s built on it, and Tom alluded to the eventual commercialization of Christian music and that’s really sad. If history shows us anything it’s that if a buck can be made off of it inside the church then we will. I know that sounds super cynical but that doesn’t mean its wrong. It also doesn’t mean, as I said, that God can and does work through these things. But I would say He works through them **in spite** of these things, not because of these things.

  60. pstrmike says:

    It’s always been about presentation, whether it is a few people with long hair and acoustic guitars or light shows and fog machines. You can’t escape it, form conveys belief systems.

    I think you hit on something important that today’s church presentations are built on the commercialized – not just of Christian music, but church in general. People want a show, and that was what I was alluding to when I talked about my experience of what I called “the day the music died.”

    So I can curse the impurity, which I have done numerous times, or try to extract the precious from the vile. I choose the latter, which for me means that there are places and practices that I won’t go to or indorse. Eventually, more of us may end up with a formal liturgy, which as I’m getting older, sounds (Jesus is just) alright with me.

  61. Bob says:

    Michael, this new format is taking ages to load… Also, can we do an up front and personal discussion on Romain in one of these CCCM chronicles plz? Thank you!

  62. Babylon's Dread says:

    For a detailed look at the role of music in the Jesus People movement delve into this resource. It’s hard to find and expensive but really worthwhile.

    Fromm, Charles. “Textual Communities and New Song in the Multimedia Age: The Routinization of Charisma in the Jesus Movement.” PhD diss., Fuller Theological Seminary, 2006.

    Fromm does not seem to have a romanticized longing for the early days and he makes a case for the forward movement into the routinization. In other words he seems to defend the fact that a charismatic moment gave birth to an industry that provided livelihood for many.

    I have a number of critiques and his tribal devotion is very clear but this was a fascinating look into the development and proliferation of the charisms of the leaders of this movement.

    I prefer to find a way to resist routinization but I clearly see Bethel on the same road that Calvary Chapel traversed. Fromm’s point is that the process is inevitable and salutary.

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Chuck Fromm was part of our church at Ocean Hills pre the Skip Heitzig takeover – although if I remember correctly, he was on the board that gave away the farm.
    Wasn’t he Chuck Smith’s brother in law?

  64. Michael says:

    We’re working on the site as much as possible…it’s an expensive and time consuming project.
    It’s driving me crazy too.
    We’ll get there.
    I’ll see if we can find someone to write about Romaine…

  65. Duane Arnold says:


    “Eventually, more of us may end up with a formal liturgy, which as I’m getting older, sounds (Jesus is just) alright with me.”

    I think that I can find an extra Book of Common Prayer somewhere around here ?!

  66. Chris Long says:

    There’s a lot of things I could say, but first I’ll just start by saying that echoing Michael, both the writing from Tom as well as all the comments were really a great read.

    Just a few thoughts from a perspective as one that was NOT there in those days and is younger but does have and enjoy some of the music from those days (and is a musician that’s been on worship teams etc). The thing about a lot of the songs from that era is they came across as “authentic”. Authenticity + Simplicity. People can spot phoniness and it turns them off (probably 90% of America churches today still need to learn this lesson IMHO…) . When people are just authentically real singing about their Jesus, it can be an incredibly powerful and compelling thing. Take a song like “Father I Adore You” – how much more simple and real can you get?

    The other thing about a lot of the worship from that era is that there was a real mix. There were definitely the “me and Jesus” personal worship songs like is mostly what dominates today, but there was also the corporate worship stuff. We’ve lost a lot of the corporate worship feel. Songs like “You are My Hiding Place” sung in the round, “Behold What Manner Of Love”, “Shepherd’s Song”, etc. We’ve made worship more solely a personal experience instead of also being a corporate experience. I think there’s value in both.

    With all that said, I am NOT one that dismisses modern worship. Yes, there’s a lot more money that can be in the mix. Yes there’s a lot more showmanship that can be in the mix. But yes, there can really really powerful and moving worship. Some of this can be a generational thing as modern worship definitely has it’s own sound and feel that could be offputting to older believers, and some of that, especially when it looks more performance-based, can come across contrived and so forth. I do have plenty of complaints I could levy against a lot of modern worship. There IS a lot of people TRYING to write worship or sound just like Chris Tomlin or whatever instead of just relying on the Holy Spirit and worshipping in simplicity.

    But with that said, there’s great stuff out there that God has really used powerfully in my life. For all the ragging that Hillsong and Bethel tend to get in some circles, they’ve got some really great worship music out there. Take a song like Bethel’s “No Longer Slaves” for instance – that’s one encouraging song that re-centers me as seeing myself as God’s adopted child that doesn’t need to fear every time I sing it. Actually their whole “You Make Me Brave” album (songs like “It Is Well”, “Shepherd” etc.) are great. Similarly Hillsong’s “No Other Name” album is very moving from start to finish (“Broken Vessels”, “Depths”, “Calvary” especially).

    The Spirit is still at work… But I do think the American church as a whole could stand to stop trying to put on a great show and draw crowds, and instead put the focus on just simply being real and authentic believers and showcasing that to others around them. When people are authentically simple, it’s like a magnet that draws people. A lot of the church today is seen as irrelevant because we portray it as irrelevant for our real lives – it’s just a showy thing we do. And when we do silly things like sing the same chorus umpteen times over and over and have our required accepella-moment on every song where we all get to feel “super spiritual” just because “that’s what we’re supposed to do” to fit the “Chris Tomlin Worship Mold” people see that kinda stuff as fake. Simplicity + Authenticity + Dependence on the Spirit = Revival!

  67. A Believer says:

    Chuck Fromm is Chuck Smith’s nephew- the son of Chuck Smith’s sister Virginia.

    That makes him Jan, Chuck Jr., Jeff, and Cheryl’s first cousin.

  68. Sarah Long says:

    Tom so well said. Please we beg you write more!!!!
    Nobody but God will truly understand the price, sacrifice and suffering those precious, precious early Jesus Movement musicians paid to save souls.
    The Christian musicians and industry today seem to know little about the history and those that paved the way. The church was tossing hippies out of the church left and right let alone allowing the music and the bands inside their doors.

    Interesting note Pastor Chuck Smith founded the CSN radio network which still consists of about 460 radio stations today across America. It was CSN that was one of the first stations and networks to play and introduce Hillsong music to America. Yet another finger print of Pastor Chuck Smith who freely admitted from the pulpit his short comings, just a sinful man, not perfect to be sure yet willing to be used of God despite his weaknesses in the flesh.
    God certainly uses some questionable vessels through out history yet we should take comfort in this. Even so God use us bring us back to our first love in you.

  69. victorious says:

    Pastor Tom, Chris and TLOT. Sharing your stories and insight is redemptive and I am sure will help many make course corrections for today and lay better foundations for the generations of tomorrow.

    First reflection :It was life transforming to be able to sing the simple Maranatha worship choruses and the Vineyard songs in the same season of new life. Singing freely to the Lord and with His people was such a freeing experience and by the Spirit formed the core of my identity as both a servant of the Lord and a Son of my Father.

    2nd observervation. All is not lost today. Between the extremes of the itinerant Jesus people music and worship and the corporate worship experiences being crafted today I can think of several examples that keep the music flowing from vessels being led of the Spirit.

    One- Worship Generation with Joey Burma birthed fresh expressions of worship and helped launch a new generation of passionate worship leaders in the context of evangelism for the young of their day. It was a venture of faith.

    Two- I so love Scott Cunningham’s Pure Worship Radio show that provides a forum and a place of expression for quite a number of grass roots worship leaders.
    Three- I have not been able to join in on one yet, but Dominick Balli has arranged regional tours where His music is shared in the back yards of host houses.

    Third Revelation- Church planting movement leaders need to build in and seek out the resources to offer the mentorship to develop and sustain a family of itinerant musicians and worship leaders allowing for their physical needs, artistic creativity and encouragement of spiritual maturity in a way that honors their unique gifting and personalities as anointed artists.

    In whatever influence I have in future endeavors I will intentionally seek to incorporate these values into fresh expressions ofJesus focused mission.

  70. victorious says:

    Michael- Thank you for facilitating this rich discussion.

    AB – Hello my brother. How ya doing living so far from the coast?

  71. CM says:

    Another thing was the widespread dispensationalist eschatology and the sense of urgency it created with the social upheavals, 6-Day War, etc. that helped spur the Jesus People Movement into action. If Jesus is coming back in 1981 (7 years subtracted from 1988 which is 40 years after 1948) and East Jerusalem was captured in 1967 during the 6-Day War, one can see how it was also a driving force.

  72. Outside T. Fold says:

    Oh, those mid-1970s. Like other oldsters here, this brings back memories. I happened to be visiting the ole homestead behind the Orange Curtain and needed to drop a bunch of items to a post office on my way back to current home in L.A. County. Asked Siri to find me post offices in Costa Mesa, and found one just over the border in Santa Ana, not far from the 405. Huh. It’s on Sunflower Avenue next to, as it turns out, CCCM. Hadn’t exited Fairview and turned north in decades. The height of those pine trees in the median, and my little start of surprise at their maturity, told me how long it had been. Oh, look on the left, there’s a huge Auto Club office complex occupying the produce fields of my youth. We used to park our cars on the side of the road on a Saturday evening to walk in to the Saturday night concerts. Oh, hello, CCCM, very long time no see. My time at CCCM was short (1975-late 1970s, I guess, since I went away to school and morphed into different church experiences after that). But formative.

    . . . . .

    Brilliant insight, Dave Rolph, and The Least of These, about which human entities in the church have power (and staying power), and which entities are controlled, diminished, and are taken advantage of. Absolutely infuriating, The Least of These, how that pastor abused you.

    I remember hanging out with someone in the broadcasting booth at KYMS in the late ’70s. My friend did a short weekend shift on the air. His shift came right after (or was it before?) another, regular full time staffer DJ there. Regular Staffer’s wife was pregnant. Very, very pregnant. I remember she came to the station to be with her husband. They ate cheese sandwiches. She, so very great with child, ate cheese sandwiches because she was stretching what little they had. KYMS General Manager Arnie McClatchy drove an expensive foreign car, presumably lived a very comfortable lifestyle. He paid his staff minimum wage. Probably my friend told me this story, how that Regular Staffer asked McClatchy for a raise, because OMG expenses for upcoming family. McClatchy replied, “Jesus will take care of your baby!” ::eyeroll:: How is it that the “people of God” believe in a magical deity who provides through magic, or incantations, or miracles, and yet do not see themselves as the hands through which that provision comes? How is it that they only see themselves as the RECIPIENTS of the generosity of God, and not as the channel of the generosity of God toward others?

    This KYMS story, along with The Least of These’s story, are examples from that era of something I’ve been hearing from Rev. James Lawson at his monthly nonviolence workshops. “Plantation capitalism” is one of the spiritual poisons of USA culture. We are formed in a society and nation whose founding and heritage is to treat human beings as property, to count them as fractional humans. (From the 1600s to nearly a century after the nation’s founding, until fixed by 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. But not ended in practice, not by a long shot.) In current form, working people are treated as less than full human beings because they work. The commercial music industry has a history of exploitation. Not really shocking to see instances where that is carried over into churches. (For that matter, how does “Moses model” fit in with a kind of spiritual plantation owner model? Don’t know. I’m intrigued by the parallel.)

  73. JD says:

    The “Moses Model” seems more and more like a Bozo model.

  74. Cory says:

    I came in the 80’s and have sweet memories of the music. I think what Chris Long said made so much sense. I go to a very conservative church no a days and see corporate music differently . Our congregation actually sings and sings loud. We sing many hymns in a contemporary fashion. I see many young families coming in craving content. The songs of the CC days bring back sweet emotional memories. Sometimes I miss the personal worship but many of the CC’s are still singing the same songs of 20 years ago. It seems like the music has gone stale. Yes, we have Hillsong and Bethel but even that is getting old. Like Tom said, music changes quickly. But CC’s haven’t changed much. I went back to visit and they are singing the exact same songs they were singing when I left, about 10 years ago. Why is that? I came to know Christ when the Harvest Bands were popular and the rock bands like Audio Adrenaline , DC Talk, Sweet Comfort Band, etc. were attracting many young people. The bands now seem so shallow and repetitive. Que paso? Where is the new talent? I guess it’s not about the music as much as it’s about the gospel. It is the power unto salvation.

  75. Xenia says:

    the CC’s are still singing the same songs of 20 years ago.<<<

    My church is still sing the same songs of 1500 years ago!

    I like it, though.

  76. Duane Arnold says:


    Whenever I get too nostalgic, I always remember that the same year The Beatles released ‘Revolver’, the Cowsills had a million selling album. I think we always have the good with the dross. Yet, I do agree with you that the musical offerings these days are pretty poor. I think part of the problem these days is that when every church has its own in-house praise band, they don’t bring in outsiders. Back in the day, we were exposed to all kinds of bands and soloists coming through – Larry, Randy, The Way, Sweet Comfort Band, Malcom and Alwyn, etc. – it was inspiring AND it inspired the musicians in our own fellowship to “up their game”. I think that’s missing today.

  77. pstrmike says:

    I spent years playing in the “in-house” worship bands and we had some traveling musicians come (none that you mentioned). They were a mixed bag, though most of them were a blessing.

    We always gave the soloists the stage without any accompanying by the in-house band. When I was doing some local traveling to lead worship, the pastor always asked if the in-house band could play with me, which I always agreed to. It took more work on my part, but was also a fuller experience for the congregation, rather than one guy and his guitar. I think they appreciated seeing their band included.

  78. Chris Long says:

    Cory, it’s so weird, but having been in a bunch of segments of the Body including CC and Vineyard, I’ve observed many of them have their stale little segment of worship well they draw from and ignore most of the others. While this has been changing some and there are lots of independent churches that do draw from a variety (tho these days it’s largely the Tomlin/Bethel/Hillsong well), if you go to a CC, you are likely to hear CC songs from their “modern CC well” – which in their case IS largely songs 10+ years old as you noted. My observation has mirrored yours – that they still are playing a lot of the stuff they were playing 10-15 years ago. And yeah you are right – it’s not really as much about the music – in fact I would say this situation is but a reflection of the larger issues at play. You ask about who are the people of today – and that same question could be asked regarding pastors etc. There’s a serious generation problem with the American church. People tend to write off the younger generation, but actually the thing about the younger gen is we (I’ll include myself I guess even tho I’m mostly referring to millenials and younger) hate facades and showmanship and hypocrisy, all of which have been staples in American Christianity. We want real and practical truth that’s lived out and demonstrated not in theory but actuality. We haven’t found a whole lot of that, so many conclude this Christianity thing is a big joke. Of course I’m way simplifying and there’s loads more variables, but that’s a key. But what you have are a lot of churches (what Michael I think calls the “Old Guard”) that are dying slow deaths. As they are dying, the temptation is to try to formulate more programs or models or try to live off of/mimic what other churches are doing and come up with all these fleshly ideas as to how to bring more life or bring more young people or whatever (“oh we just need to play more Chris Tomlin songs” or whatever), when really I go back to: Simplicity + Authenticity = Revival. Again there’s more to it then that (like really depending on the Spirit etc), but if one really wants a formula, that’s a good starting one IMHO.

    BTW: Sidenote to Michael: If nobody’s let you know, there’s something weird with this site these days where when I post here on my desktop, it and more recent posts might not show up for like 24 hours, whereas it appears instantly on the mobile version on my phone. That comment I posted the other day I didn’t see here til today – the last comment that showed was the one where you said this was one of the most informative threads in years, even though on the mobile version of the site loaded at the same time I found out there were several later comments and mine showed after them.

  79. Michael says:

    I’m still waiting on estimates to rebuild and move the site to another server.


    The simply truth behind this entire discussion comes down to being Christ centered. It is easy to travel to the left or right when it fits the occasion but as Christians we are already walking in eternity and need to proclaim John 5:24 as passing from death onto life. Believe it and receive it as it was spoken by the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If we believe in Jesus Christ we must believe everything he said and the One who sent him, God the Father. Live on and proclaim his words and his love. Is it really that hard to live in the moment were God exist? Pray without ceasing stay in constant contact with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, that’s where eternity exist, the Alpha and Omega. I am only saying this because I have been blessed by what Jesus has done for all of us and that is it! To God be the Glory forever….Amen

  81. Sky Pilot says:

    It’s interesting that Dave Rolph should mention Jimmy Kempner in a positive manner since he was one of 3 CCCM Pastors that testified again Jimmy in his 2010 conviction of hiring a prostitute. #sad #hypocritic

  82. Carol A Barrow says:

    My mother & us four girls would attend the Christian rock concerts on Saturday night in the 1970’s with Tom Stipe! We loved it! That’s where I fell in love with the Maranatha music “Children of the Day” I particularly remember the two couples that sang together! We would also attend Pastor Chuck Smith’s Sunday service too upon occasions it was an hour away from where we resided! We also use to attend when Audrae Crouch would sing when they had the big text service before the church built The Hugh sanctuary! Those were the very best of days to me growing up! I remember Tom saying about giving if you don’t want to give go buy a taco instead! I thought that was great! The best years of my life growing up as a young girl!

  83. francisco says:

    Thx for posting Michael. I really enjoyed Tom’s teachings. He’ll be missed

  84. Dread says:

    What a treasure. Thank you Maichael.

  85. Em says:

    I can’t visit this site on firefox for reasons similar to what Chris L posted above ? ? ?
    Google and this tablet are okay….

  86. JimmieT says:

    My wife mentioned to me today she remembers Tom baptizing her at Pirates Cove in Corona Del Mar & subsequently prayed for her to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Bill & Lois Wade’s Bible study in New Port Beach back in the day.

  87. Em says:

    enjoy reading folks memories here – i never knew the man – different generation
    when it comes to receiving the Holy Spirit, i believe you do receive Him upon receiving Redemption, but most definitely you have Him active in your life after submitting to Baptism…

    God keep

  88. The New Victor says:

    The former worship leader at CCSJ would on occasion pepper in a “high church” hymn, and I was surprised when the congregation would raise their voices to be heard above the worship band. I commented to a regular behind me, “I wish that they would do more traditional hymns.” She agreed. Participating rather than watching a performance.

    Though we were involved in CC since the late 70s, I missed the music aspect due to being young and that my mom only liked opera though she was a quasi-hippie. I missed asking her the specific saved story when she lived in SFO around 1970.

    Very interesting history!

    I can’t imagine current worship music being influenced by that contemporary. Billie Eisish? Jonestown City. Depressing!

  89. Dan from Georgia says:

    I currently own (or no longer own,…hard to keep track of my books) the book by Powell…”The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music”. Interesting to read up on many of my past favorite CCM music acts…also interesting how the Calvary Chapel and Jesus Movement is still influencing CCM today. Lastly, I found it interesting how much he wrote on some artists, and how little he wrote on some other artists.

  90. Muff Potter says:

    @ SkyPilot:
    In fundagelicalism you can be a slumlord, backyard puppy-mill breeder, run a Ponzi scheme, you name it, just don’t get caught having unauthorized sex.
    Your goose is cooked if you do.

  91. Corby says:

    This – “We witnessed culture penetrating evangelism against a backdrop of Biblical literacy. I think that Jesus referred to this kind of activity as “casting seed.”

  92. Joel says:

    And yet Lonnie was living immorally the whole time. The rot was there from the beginning as far as I can tell.

  93. Michael says:

    Lonnie is a fascinating case…I’ve talked to too many who testify that signs and wonders followed him…the ways of God are inexplicable…

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