Lonnie Frisbee – The Documentary

The critically acclaimed documentary about the life of evangelist Lonnie Frisbee is now available on DVD:

Imagine if John the Baptist came of age during the 1960s counter culture, the charisma of Jim Morrison flowing from the mantle of an Old Testament prophet. Meet Lonnie Frisbee, a seeker turned Jesus freak evangelist who compelled thousands towards a profession of Christian faith. It was during a trip into a canyon that Frisbee claimed that God gave him a vision of his future as an influential evangelist to the hippie generation.

Four years later the vision would be fulfilled as pictures of Lonnie baptizing teenage converts were splashed across the pages of Time and Life magazines forever celebrating him as an icon of the Jesus movement.

Despite the stories of spiritual prowess that surround his life, his enduring struggles overwhelmed him. And even though he was the charismatic sparkplug igniting the rise of two worldwide denominations (Calvary Chapel & Vineyard), his name has all but been removed from their histories. Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher is the powerful story revealing the risk-taking nature of God, aligning himself with the most unlikely of characters as if to send out the message (yet again) that everyone is invited to participate.
– Source: About the film

The documentary Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher has caused a stir wherever it has gone. Beginning with a packed house at the Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2005 it has played to diverse audiences including the Mill Valley, Reel Heart, San Francisco Independent, New York Underground and Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian film festivals as well as various evangelical Christian venues such as the Raggamuffin Film Festival, Fuller Seminary’s Reel Spirituality Conference, Wheaton College, Vanguard University and various church venues.

The DVD includes the movie plus an additional 60 minutes of bonus features:

  • The Child as Nonconformist / Childhood Memories / Planner of Experiences
  • The Girl He Was Going to Marry / Calvary Chapel After the Storm / The Shepherding Movement
  • The Check Missionary Trip to Africa / The Return / Mother’s Day Aftermath
  • Inner Messy Child / The Struggle / Revisionism
  • Death & Funeral / Lonnie’s Legacy 1 / Lonnie’s Legacy 2
  • KQED trailer / Web trailer

In the feedback section of the Lonnie Frisbee website, one person writes:

Frankly, I think Lonnie is a tragic story that really does not need to be embellished or made into a movie. Why not tell the story of someone who has done far more than Lonnie ever did and has been faithful, instead of someone who is as tragic and flawed as Lonnie?

Film maker David Di Sabatino responds,

The Bible is filled with tragic and flawed characters and themes. God showing his strength through weakness, using foolish things, zigging when his children claim he should be zagging. The very essence of the Christian story is built upon the tragic career of Jesus, himself an abysmal failure by fiefdom-building standards. To miss that… well, that is why Lonnie’s story is so necessary. To reconnect Christians with their own story.

We highly recommend this documentary. It is a great reminder that God can use anyone, any time, at any place — and that His ways are higher than our ways.

The site’s FAQ includes this Q and A:

Q: In the movie you take issue with the way that conservative evangelicals deal with those who fall short of the standards set by the church.

A: I understand that wherever people are gathered together, there will always be standards and there will always be people who fall short of those standards. That is a given. I wish to point to the problem of fallible people holding other fallible people accountable.

I always find it alarming when church leaders point to a specific sin as being horrific when their own lives are so fraught with dysfunction. It sets up a problem in the mind and heart of the person who is being held accountable, especially if that person senses more judgment than mercy. Ask people who don’t go to church what they think of the place. See if the hypocrisy they have witnessed isn’t one of the major reasons that people are turned off toward organized religion. This emphasis on “holiness” was never meant to be a vehicle by which you could look down your nose on someone else.
– Source: Frequently Asked Questions

See this documentary. It is guaranteed to take you out of your comfort zone, to make you think, and to cause Christians to examine and re-examine their attitude toward others, the Christian way of life, ministry, and God.

This post was last updated: Dec. 16, 2009