Lonnie Frisbee

On Friday night, the Film&Theology Department of Mars Hill Church had a showing of “Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher.”  The documentary’s director, David DiSabatino, also attended.

Background, clips, and information on additional material about the movie can be found at http://www.lonniefrisbee.com.

The movie was…is…incredible.

Lonnie Frisbee was, in very large part, present and responsible for both the Calvary Chapel and Vineyard churches.  God worked through Lonnie Frisbee and brought untold numbers to the church.  He was used powerfully by God and hundreds…thousands…came to Christ because of this simple little hippie preacher.

Seeing Lonnie Frisbee on the Katheryn Kuhlman show…maaaaaan, talk about a paradigm stretch.

There were moments of frission for me…seeing Lonnie hold up a “Love Song” album, which I believe was the first one I ever owned.  (The other being “Cosmic Cowboy” by Barry Maguire, who also cameos in this movie.)  But the part that drew me into the movie was that Lonnie went out to people just like him, hippies who were hurting, searching, seeking something larger than themselves, a love that they could believe in.  Even while they were doing LSD, they were searching the scriptures and filtering everything through that lens.  It wasn’t enough that people like David Wilkerson came in, filmed their meetings, and then went out and denounced their movement as a bunch of false prophets because they were doing drugs…they just hadn’t gotten that far yet.

The connections between the hippies of the 60’s and the homosexuals of the 06s cannot be ignored.  The hippies were considered freaks…dirty…anti-american and possessing a disgusting, anti-family lifestyle.  The hippies, man, were all about love.  Free love, costly love, they wanted to know more.  I swear, the more I stand and draw parallels between the hippies and the homosexuals today, the more it makes me shake with anger.  The same thing is happening today.  We have not remembered history and we are condemned to repeat it.

Lonnie was part of that group and rose up to become a leader in it, bringing people to Christ.  When I had this epiphany several weeks ago, finding my identity in Christ and really understanding it, the more I became convinced that all the talents and resources that I had spent this last 44 years developing, were to go into a ministry effort of some sort — of any sort! — to witness to those people who looked just like me.  Broken in places they don’t even recognize, they are lost and seeking Christ.  They don’t know that is who they are looking for in all the wrong places, bu that sense of ultimate masculinity, of true male friendship and bonding, that is in Christ and He can be the identity that they’ve spent a lifetime building.  I want to play a part in bringing that to them.  I’m no Lonnie Frisbee, but I am a weak and foolish man that I do believe God can use to confound the wise.

Lonnie Frisbee is what happens when someone says yes to God and means it.

That can be my life story too.  I pray that God will allow that for my life, to work through me and bring gay men and women to an understanding of true gender identity and the truest sexual identity of their lives.  I just pray that what happened to Lonnie will not happen to me.  But even though all abandon me, I will press forward.  I will do what God intends for my life.  He only has to make that way apparent and, if I’m not seeing it, close the door hard enough to smack my widdle nose and point me in the direction of the next door.

Seriously, check out the movie.  More about David DiSabatino in the next post.


~ by WriterRand on February 13, 2006.

23 Responses to “Lonnie Frisbee”

  1. Just watched the Lonnie Frisbee movie last night with my wife. What a mind blower. Brought back lots of memories for me as 70’s teenager in a “born again” church. My prayer while watching the movie was “do it again Lord!”

  2. I also saw the movie. It is now out on DVD and available from http://www.lonniefrisbee.com . One thing about Lonnie that stood out was that he was not in it for the money!

  3. Awesome..i saw Lonnie only once as i recall in 1972 in A circus tent in Costa mesa/Santa Ana..and i got saved later on because of him and a few others who stirred my inner soul to repentance. Gay or not gay..this is a man I will call brother in Heaven someday..I wish you were still with us here Lonnie..your a man after God’s own heart.
    Kevin B

  4. I have not seen the movie but I want to. I attend a Calvary Chapel in Kennesaw. Lonnie should not be shunned by anyone because, from all I can tell, he struggled with a sin just like we all do. He did not come out and say that his particular lust or temptation was “ok” and that it was “natural” or that God made him that way, he struggled with it and all who struggle with a sin will fall at some point or another if they take their eyes off Christ. That is the moment that the devil will whisper and the flesh will roar but a fall does not mean that we lose our salvation, it just mean’s that we fell and we need to get up and keep going. The Jesus I know is merciful and not condemning to those who believe Him, to those whom the Father has given Him. He washes our feet and He get’s us through. Lonnie no longer struggle’s with a sin. He is completely free now. I really think that we, as Christians, need to get a revelation of Jesus as He was when He walked the dusty streets of Galilee. He was the friend of sinners and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. too many people believe in God without believing God, there is a difference, a BIG one. Look at King David… an adulterer who had his lover’s husband killed. Would your Church have a man like that as it’s pastor? What about David’s family life? His relationship with his kids? Yeah… right. One son raped his half sister, another son tried to kill David and take his throne and slept with David’s concubines, oh yeah, the concubines… would your Church have King David as it’s Pastor? He wouldn’t pass muster in any Church but… he was God’s man because he believed God. Lonnie, from all I can tell, believed God too. I am convinced that Lonnie is my brother and I do not judge him, I love him. I also hurt for him because of the pain of his childhood, what if you anyone of us were raped as an 8yr old? What would that do to us? I thank God that He is merciful and to the merciful, He show’s Himself merciful. I never saw Lonniem I wish I had. I did see Kathryn Kuhlman once and that was amazing. I’ve been to a David Wilkerson crucade too, back in the early 70s and that was good too. DW has mellowed over the years too, his monthly sermon that he send’s in the mail is good. I’m sorry to hear that he badmouthed the “Jesus Freaks”. I love Jesus and I need Him every day. Like Peter and Like Lonnie, I start to sink if I get my eye’s off Him. I am not a foxhole Christian. I am a bad person, not one who can sit in Church and think i’m not that bad. I am bad. My lusts are bad and the sins I struggle with are not “losing my temper” etc, they are real sins, worthy of being called sin but Jesus is merciful and He keep’s me as long as I abide in Him. As long as I remember that I am in Him… crucified, dead, buried, and alive… “in Him”. If I look away… I fall, if I abide… I stand. In NO case do I judge a brother who has fallen to a temptation for Christ is enough, His grace is sufficient. You will meet Lonnie one day, if you are indeed, Christ’s, and you indeed are.

  5. Glad to see others out there have seen David’s movie. It deserves a much wider circulation. Here’s a link to a review I wrote:


    Tim Adams

  6. I regularly hung out with Lonnie in the early 80’s while helping launch a church in the L.A. area. I have friends who were around Lonnie from the day he showed up at Church’s house while hitchhiking.
    Am an arm’s length friend of David the documentary maker.
    There is an out-of-control level of Lonnie myth being perpetuated now re him being gay. Sexually broken? Yes. Not gay.
    Lonnie was very clear about his sexual sin-failings-mess-ups. Anyone who was around Lonnie knows he was not shy about his ‘stuff’ in public. (David the documentary maker admits he was not around Lonnie – at all.) To label Lonnie a homosexual is utterly inaccurate. There is an agenda afoot for whatever reason to paint Lonnie as a gay when there is scant evidence of that being accurate. Lonnie was an incredibly diverse person. He had lots of gay friends. I hope each reading this does too – that simply means you are one who loves people.
    Lonnie was a bi-sexual… at that, his brokenness took him into that lifestyle off and on at different episodes over a long, extended number of decades.
    Any summary of Lonnie’s sexual orientation as being gay is inaccurate journalism.

    Orwell wrote in his novel 1984, “Whoever controls the present controls the past.” Either those ‘recalling’ this or that by those present once upon a time ought to become far more precise in their choice of words, or better yet, maybe it’s time to retell the story accurately. Stevearino

  7. Steve, thank you so much for adding your account to this post. You’re right: history needs cautious accounting. I’m glad your observations are here for the record. Especially on the distinctions so important to those who are here for their own sexual brokenness.

    Thank you, sir.

  8. […] One of the most insightful looks at the history of the Vineyard Church occurred for me when I watched ‘Frisbee: The life and Death of a Hippie Preacher”. […]

  9. Why is this such a popular post every day? Am I missing something?

  10. Judging from the documentary on Lonnie and meeting some of the men who were at services where Lonnie preached (and who came to Jesus at some of those services), I think it’s due to the passion of their conversions. Lonnie was very charasmatic and preached Jesus and Jesus only. He wasn’t concerned about growing a megachurch, he was constantly search for, and maturing in, and finding, Jesus.

    A have a friend who was in an “unequally yolked” marriage for years. She prayed for her husband continually and faithfully for 17 years. When he finally did come to Christ last year, the conversion was so profound, deep and moving that everyone noticed the incredible change in the man. I imagine a lot of men who came to Jesus under Lonnie’s leadership must have had similar experiences.

    I highly recommend the documentary, BTW.

  11. Have you seen my post on Lonnie Frisbee? Hitchmo

  12. I saw the Lonnie Frisbee movie last night and it struck me that although he was a hero to many and helped to found the Calvary Chapels and the Vineyard church, his life and ministry were built on a false foundation.

    Having been an “LSD soaked” hippie (over 500 trips) myself I know that LSD was no different than peyote or mescaline in its shamanistic potential. Those who followed Frisbee seeking signs and wonders were like the generation of unbelieving Israelites that Jesus condemned because they were always seeking a sign.

    Granted Frisbee seemed to be a sweet man, and the gospel he preached was from the bible. But Satan quotes the bible too, and when we see the fruit of his ministry (especially in the vienyard movement with it’s great excessesx of charismania) we must wonder at which “spirit” he was dispensing. Also the fact that he remained a lifelong homosexeual and died of AIDS belies the words that he spoke about being totally changed.

    I was in a church where the pastor was saved on an LSD trip. He claimed to have laid out under the power of the Lord while levitating 3 inches off the platform while he was being “regenerated.” He had a healing ministry and an unction to preach powerfully. But he destroyed people who disagreed with him, he had sexual sin in his life, he preached heresy and false teachings, even though he had the “biggest, most happening” church in town. He eventually was run out of town and written up in Dr. Ron Enroth’s book, “Churches That Abuse.”

    The same “spirit” was on Lonnie Frisbee. I recongnized it, even as the movie progressed.

    We are not saved by signs and wonders nor does God or His Son or the Holy Spirit ever have to prove themselves to men by producing miracles. We are to receive The Son by faith, believe the words of the Father given to us in the Bible and let the Hol;y Spirit teach us everything we need to know about the Son.

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    Jesus wants to find faith, not power. The power we have is the Gospel for it is the “Power of God” untoi salvation. Saved sould are the miracle we need to see. The Lonnie Frisbees of this world are only leading us down the path to that time when the son of perdition will come with great lying signs and wonders and if it were possible, even the elect shall be deceived.

  13. It’s sad that what the Lord did in a small group called Calvary Chapel over 30 years ago, he couldn’t do now, as Lonnie and those like him not only would not be permitted to speak or minister in the church but would be promplty escorted out. We have traded the Holy Spirit for comfort and familiarity, we have become Father Son and Holy Scripture. Calvary Chapels sadly are now ruled by nepotism, Simony, and who you know, and by “who you know” I don’t mean “Jesus”, every pastor now has to be connected by blood, or by an old network of familiar faces, an old boys network. In one particular case a young Calvary Chapel pastor is married to another mega church’s pastor’s daughter, so he is given a senior pastoret in an established smaller calvary chapel, and the previous pastor comes to the mega church where he is now allowed from time to time and in the absense of the Senior pastor to preach to the thousands that attend this mega church, a small price to pay… it has become an employment agency for the extended family….It has been said, “it seems that every move of God begins with one man, and then it becomes a movement and finally a monument,” well even though they try to wipe him out and erase him from memory, for better or worse “that man” was Lonnie Frisbee, and then the movement that God used him to beget becomes a monument….Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard’s revisionist history is very different than how the Bible portrays the men God used in the Bible, men who were frail, faulted and struggling with sin, but we enjoyed their gifts, we used their calling and were amazed at their anointing, and when we got what we wanted a movement with thousands of churches then we threw them away, threw away the spark, the catalyst, and the man God used into the darkness. Men like Lonnie Frisbee come into our midst very seldom, maybe once in a lifetime to bring a fresh touch from God! and yet who was there for Lonnie when he needed help and understanding, who was there to lift him up rather than condemn him, “for when you do it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me!” Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith, Gregg Laurie, shame on you….and thank God for the man that God used, because of Jesus working through that man you are where you are today!

  14. Lonnie was an amazing catalyst of revival. Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, but also a revival in South Africa and a move of God in Sweden.

    Did you hear about the authorized Autobiography and documentary that are coming out?

  15. Lonnie is one of my heroes. I love him very much. I go to a Vineyard church, and have a very similar testimony as Lonnie. You can go to my page and watch my testimony videos if you like. Bless you thanks for a great post!

  16. To his own Master he stands of falls: and God is able to make him stand. The Day will reveal the worth of this man’s life: in God’s eyes. Our own turn in the fire of 1st Cor. 3:13 will cure us of ever trying to fully measure another’s reward or place in eternity. Lonnie had a Savior in Jesus: One big enough to save even you or me. People who die with AIDS go to Heaven trusting Christ and people who die without AIDS go to Hell rejecting Christ. All Liars to the Lake of Fire: aren’t you glad you have a Savior? I don’t deserve Jesus. I will never recover from His love.

  17. Of course Lonnie was gay and of course he felt guilty about it. Let’s face it, when he was about 20 he had a conversion experience and immediately had it defined for him by the particular christian culture he attached himself too. Nothing unusual in that. All of us get “converted” not to Jesus, but to some group’s understanding of Jesus. And we all buy into that group’s values because we are all looking for love and acceptance and family. Remember, the 1970’s weren’t a great time for gay men to come out and find other ethically and morally mature elders and role models out there. So Lonnie did what many gay men have done over time because they wanted to use their gifts and wanted to be loved: he stayed in the closet. The conservative christian church absolutely LOVES it when gay men self-flagellate themselves with public confessions, so I am sure Lonnie could find some shallow comfort there as well. Another commentator above got it right when he pointed out that Lonnie never was changed from his orientation. That should make bible-believing, miracle-craving christians a little uncomfortable. Couldn’t God have healed Lonnie of his homosexuality? My own opinion is that Lonnie was a charismatic gay man who was caught up in the church culture of his day and never could find his way out of that mindset. His story fascinates me.

  18. Love what you said, Paul. I wrote a song about all that after seeing that movie, but I’ve since been exhorted by some of the people involved in the film not to use Lonnie’s story as a “poster child” for the church’s acceptance of gays living openly and without shame. This I was told, because Lonnie regarded it a sin. I disagree with that reasoning. I think the film itself made Lonnie that poster child, and I think it did the right thing.

    I would bet you if Lonnie started his ministry today instead of in the 1970’s, he’d be doing it with boyfriend in tow.

    I came to Vineyard and Calvary just before the end of Lonnie’s time there. I was in an evangelical band which backed Lonnie up a few times. From him I inherited a fierce protectiveness of the people God was leading into the church—protecting them from the fundamentalistic BS that some of the elders were trying to foist on them.

    Lonnie did it for God’s hippies, I went on to help do it for His punk rockers and goths, and now it’s long overdue for someone to do it for His gay kids. Alas, no going back in time to make things better for kids like Lonnie or myself, but we can learn from history.

  19. For Lonnie, for anyone of us, what about Grace? Grace is along way from Jewish (Hewbrew) law. Bisexual love, let those without sin throw the first stone. Happy Rapture Chuck.

  20. Love your story Ric. A couple of reasons Lonnie likely “regarded it as sin” was because everyone he knew in the penty, fundagelical world he immersed himself into regarded it as sin. Also, when you contract an incurable disease through surreptitiously practicing behavior that everyone you know and want to emulate says is God’s punishment for said behavior, it tends to reinforce that bias. Culturally, Lonnie was living in the equivalent of modern day Afghanistan with no opportunity to get outside the box of the world in which he was enmeshed, to see things differently.

    I would like to think you are right in seeing Lonnie doing ministry today with his husband at his side. I suspect though, that he might not find a need for even being involved in religion, if he were able to make the human connections & find the family/ love he evidently craved so fiercely. Just my speculation though.

  21. If someone is led to Christ by hearing the word of God preached, what do the personal struggles of the person preaching have to do with the validity of your salvation? Faith cometh by hearing gods words. The sincerity of the “vehicle” or lack thereof does not negate the power of God’s word. Many have come to know Christ even through bogus ministries. God can use anyone he pleases to bring people to him. Let Him be the final judge. It doesn’t matter how you got there as long as you arrived.

  22. Yes. Lonnie was gay and a Christian and he had to hide it. Like he said everyone wants the goodies he brings but they don’t want him ergo his expulsion from the Vineyard and Calvary chapel cover up that he still had gay relations. Celebrate who God made you as gay person. This is only a issue in churches that have not worked out what salvation is.

  23. I had a published a man who is a classmate who escaped this lifestyle but he was very graphic with his testimony. I was reading an article about a man who claimed some gross allegations about the movement. The Ethereal Gazette: Issue 10 houses a controversial entry called From The Depths Of Sodom. It didn’t have a title when I got it and he asked me to release it as a pen name because how shocking it is. I saw death threats from the LGBT community over publishing this and scoffed, Don’t care needs to be told. I wish Lonnie was alive to see this.

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