Half a century ago Hollywood was frantically trying to figure out the newly-dominant “youth market.” Since some of that market had recently found Jesus, there was a brief spate of related films: Zefferelli’s hippie-fied St. Francis biopic “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” adapted stage musicals “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell,” the Billy Graham-produced “A Time to Run” chief among them. But as the “Jesus Movement” got absorbed into more mainstream institutions, the brief vogue flickered out. 

For a moment there, however, counterculture and Christ had a groovy thing going on, one that promised both salvation for those who’d gone overboard on sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, as well as a healthy shakeup of churches that had lost touch with younger generations. Dramatizing that moment is “Jesus Revolution,” an engaging, upbeat new effort from co-directors Jon Erwin (“I Can Only Imagine”) and Brent McCorkle (“Unconditional”), adapted from Greg Laurie’s memoir. 

This inspirational take on a Southern California ministry’s eventually far-reaching impact may not be a definitive representation of some real-life participants’ roles. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most appealing faith-based big-screen entertainments in a while, polished and persuasive without getting too preachy. Kelsey Grammer’s presence may lure some patrons not typically drawn to this kind of attraction, while co-star Jonathan Roumie will help draw those who are — he played J.C. in the well-received Biblical TV series “The Chosen” five years ago. Lionsgate opens the feature on 2,000-plus U.S. screens this Friday, after a more limited Wednesday night “special preview event.” 

After an opening mass-baptism sequence the film returns to about an hour later, the narrative proper begins in 1968 Newport Beach, where fatherless teenager Greg (Joel Courtney) is unhappily enrolled at a local military academy, and no more happy at home with alcoholic mother Charlene (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). He’s more than ready to be liberated from both when his path crosses that of several turned-on public high schoolers, notably Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow), with whom he’s immediately smitten. But the downside of druggy escapism frightens her off before he hits a freaked-out bottom of his own.

Meanwhile, staid pastor Chuck Smith (Grammer) presides over a dwindling congregation. When he expresses prim disapproval of the hippie phenomenon scrutinized on network TV news, his own teen daughter Janette (Ally Ioannides) scoffs such lack of understanding may be “why your church is so empty.” Picking up a hitchhiker one day, she sees a golden opportunity in the form of shaggy Lonnie Frisbee (Roumie). With “Jesus Saves” hand-painted on his poncho, he announces he’s “down from San Francisco spreading the Good News to whoever wants to hear it.” “You’ve got to meet my father,” she grins.