Memories of 1950s/1960s American Evangelical Culture

Memories of 1950s/1960s American Evangelical Culture May 1, 2017

Memories of 1950s/1960s America Evangelical Culture

So, for those of you at all interested, here is a “key” to at least some of the items I mentioned in my previous post asking what you were in the 1950s/1960s if you remember them (or even some of them):

Back Yard Clubs were sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and volunteers (mostly evangelical Christian pastors’ wives) hosted them in their back yards during the summer. Cookies and Kool Aid and games (and summer boredom) drew neighborhood kids to the events that usually were an hour or two every afternoon for a week–kind of like Vacation Bible School for kids who wouldn’t attend a VBS in a church building. My stepmother hosted and led Back Yard Club events several summers when I was a child. Then (as I recall) CEF discovered we were Pentecostals and wouldn’t allow my stepmother to use their literature anymore. (Their literature was apparently–as I recall–something you ordered from them, not something you bought at a “Book and Bible Store.”)

The Sugar Creek Gang was a series of books about kids with Christian themes. As I recall the books contained short stories that were “serial” so the characters were the same but the stories each told some event these Christian kids experienced. They all had some point to make about Christian living–for families and kids.

Thurlow Spurr and the Spurrlows was a musical group that traveled around holding Christian “concerts” with what was then considered “contemporary Christian music” (before CCM really became a “thing”). They sang at many Youth for Christ events.

The Four Spiritual Laws was a tract published (as I recall) by Campus Crusade for Christ in the mid-1960s and we evangelical teenagers (and others) went to training events to learn how to evangelize our friends using the tract. One thing I remember was that in the tract “facts” preceded “faith.”

I could go on, but I’ll stop with those explanations. You can google the rest and learn about them if you’re at all interested.

Someone else has mentioned that my items relate to a now long-gone phenomenon: a transdenominational evangelical American subculture that thrived in the 1950 and 1960s and was for some of us, at least, a kind of para-church culture. Many of us did not have large, vibrant congregational youth groups and that subculture was a “training ground” in being transdenominationally evangelical. Through it I learned that there were other Christians than just our kind of church (viz., Pentecostal).

For many years I probably looked back on that 1950s/1960s American evangelical subculture with some disdain; later I experienced what philosopher of religion Paul Ricouer labeled a “second naïveté.” I learned to appreciate some aspects of that subculture in which I grew up. It was certainly better than the 1960s drugs and free sex culture and it helped keep me out of that. For that I give it credit.


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