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Lonnie Frisbee and his Charismatic Hippie Communal Houses

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Lonnie Frisbee, 1949-1993

Lonnie Frisbee, 1949-1993

Lonnie Frisbee was an amazing Jesus freak. Being a key figure and informal leader of the Jesus People Movement in the 60’s and 70’s, his impact on Western Christianity is huge. With his long hair and beard he tried to look like Jesus himself “because there’s no one else I want to look like”, he preached on the beaches to his hippie friends that the Holy Spirit is even better than LSD and brought thousands of them to church.

The Jesus movement spread rapidly across California, US and the world, but most churches closed the door for them – after all, they were hippies. A church that did welcome them though was Calvary Chapel led by Chuck Smith, not because he was a hippie, nor because he wanted to become one, but because he liked them.

While Chuck emphasized Bible studying and evangelical values (which Lonnie thought was awesome) Lonnie himself was a holy roller. He cast out demons, spoke in tongues, healed the sick and prophesied loudly. He proclaimed himself to be a prophet and a mystic, and the whole Jesus Movement became a radical charismatic movement.

In 1980 he visited John Wimber‘s Vineyard church and released the youth into full scale charismatic renewal, which had a huge impact on Wimber himself and the whole third wave charismatic renewal. In John Wimber: The Way it Was, John’s wife Carol Wimber shares how important Lonnie was for the Vineyard, and she has some awesome testimonies from a trip to South Africa she, John and Lonnie made where they literally saw the blind and lame being totally healed when they imparted the power of the Holy Spirit to them.

And what I find especially cool with Lonnie is that he combined this charismatic fire and zeal for evanglism with Christian communism, in its original, apostolic sense. Together with Chuck Smith and a guy called John Higgins he started a communal house called The House of Miracles (I guess Lonnie picked the name). The House grew to 19 houses in California, and exploded into a ministry called Shiloh Youth Revival Centers, which involved 175 communal houses and – hold on – 100 000 people!

These communal houses had a common fund so that everyone involved gave their income to the community and in return they got free food, clothing, housing and health care. Suddenly there were no rich nor poor, just a bunch of happy holy roller Jesus hippies that were enjoying His presence together in fellowship and love.

Unfortunately, this apostolic movement faced a lot of hardships: John Higgins was removed from Shiloh in 1978 and the movement eventually dissolved, Lonnie died in AIDS in 1993, and many Jesus hippies became normal, boring Christians with private property and economic inequality. But it would be false to state that the Jesus Movement is dead! Jesus People USA still has a communal house, Jesus Army in the United Kingdoms has several, and here in Sweden there is a revived interest in a communal lifestyle, Jesus People style. My hope and prayer is that we will see a new Jesus revival where at least 100 000 from the new young generation will crush materialism and individualism through resurrecting biblical communism. Come Holy Spirit!

By the way, check out the awesome film about Lonnie’s life: Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher.

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10 Comments

  1. Marius Ihlar says:

    Amen!

  2. Peter C says:

    You seem to be critical of Christians that own private property. It should be noted that most of the followers of Jesus from the very beginning had personal belongings, their own house to live in with their family, a job (usually ‘secular’ eg fishing (!)), and did not live in communes. Indeed did the Apostle Paul not encourage his readers to ‘live quiet lives…’ (or was it Peter?). I too am a fan of John Wimber and agree with a lot of the stuff you have written, but I dont think God wants all of us to become hippies!!

    • Hi Peter!

      I’m studying patristics right now and am focusing on early Christian economic practices. What I’ve found is that the community of goods that the church of the apostles in Jerusalem was practicing was normative for the rest of the church as well, and many churches practiced community of goods until the third century. Now, it seems like we often get confused concerning what this apostolic communism meant – based on the accounts in Acts people had their own houses but only after having equalized all property so that the formerly rich had no more capital than the formerly poor. After that the equalization was done through collecting money every Sunday. But they surely were hippies allright 🙂

      Here are som patristic quotes on poverty and wealth: https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/god-vs-wealth-part-4-the-church-fathers/

      Blessings!

  3. […] Lonnie Frisbee was gay, but a much better Christian than these hateful violent people that dishonor the name of Christ. The church has to free itself from all Constantian bondage, refusing to shape society through courts and violence, and instead invite all people to become Christ-like through the power of the Holy Spirit. […]

  4. […] very inspired by this church! It’s a remnant of the amazing Jesus hippie revival in the 70′s and a church that is very similar to the Biblical church of Acts, that also was a house church […]

  5. […] preserved the hippie passion for peace, justice and a simple lifestyle. Over 100 000 Jesus hippies lived together in communal houses, they were preaching the Gospel in the streets and on the beaches, and many miracles happened as […]

  6. […] preserved the hippie passion for peace, justice and a simple lifestyle. Over 100 000 Jesus hippies lived together in communal houses, they were preaching the Gospel in the streets and on the beaches, and many miracles happened as […]

  7. […] som är sprängfylld av glädje och kärlek. Alla som träffat honom vet vem han är, en svensk Lonnie Frisbee som sprider Guds Rikes väldoft som en gigantisk […]

  8. […] People i Chicago) rätt unika i och med att de fortfarande finns kvar. Mängder av kommuniteter startades under 70-talets Jesusrörelse – bara i USA bodde ca 100 000 kristna i kommunitet, och i Sverige fanns flera s.k. Jesushus […]

  9. zeitderernte says:

    Are you serious?

    Frisbee led an unbelievable double life, he visited gay bars where he commited sexual perversities with changing partners on Saturday nights and “preached” on following Sundays! How can anyone say this man was filled with the HOLY spirit?
    If you read your bible properly you will see what the fruits of the holy spirits are and in order to see these fruits in your own life, you must conquer the flesh- which Frisbee obviously didn’t bother to do!

    Sin is our greatest enemy and we must flee from it, not be partakers in such activities. The result of sin is death, we must first willingly repent and turn away from sin before we start to preach!

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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