Judging by the first five days of Bishop Michael Curry’s increased public visibility on the world church scene, it seems safe to speculate that we are going to hear a lot over the nine years of his role as Presiding Bishop about the “Jesus Movement.”

Presiding Bishop-Elect Michael Curry appears determined to use the term at every possible opportunity, even in the most unlikely settings.

Speaking to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Curry said,

I talk of the Jesus movement, of evangelism, of making disciples and our witness through public service and public advocacy. That can sound like rhetoric that has no actual consequence, but let me assure you … we are talking about the church moving forth, taking evangelism seriously – in the Episcopal way but taking them for real because there is good news to share. There really is. Personal service and public witness and advocacy is what we do; that’s the Jesus movement.


He went on to urge the members of PB&F to

Put Jesus up front. Put sharing that good news in front. Put forming our people as followers of Jesus – as disciples for real – at the front of it. And then put inspiring and enabling them to serve in their personal lives, and for us to witness in the public square in the front. That’s the church; that’s the movement. I know full well that movements can float off into the air if they are not incarnated in reality.

I like Bishop Curry’s use of the term “the Jesus Movement.” It strikes me that he is edging away from a vision of church as primarily institutional. He seems to be aiming to reclaim the awareness of the church as a living organism, a Body of faith in which the Spirit of Jesus dwells. A “movement” is flexible, open and adaptable. It cannot be static and fixed.

We seek in the church to allow our lives to be shaped by the Spirit of Jesus. “The Jesus Movement” is about relationships before structures, people before programs, compassion before construction. For Michael Curry, Jesus is the power of love at work in the lives of people.

Curry says,

We are part of the Jesus movement, and nothing can stop the movement of God’s love in this world.

As part of “the Jesus Movement,” we seek to open to that unstoppable power of love and be together in relationships that are characterized by faithfulness, truthfulness, compassion, openness, and deep listening.

Listening to Michael Curry one gets the impression that he uses the expression “the Jesus Movement” to remind the church that there is a power at work in our community that transcends human effort, will or strategy. He is inviting us to see that the Spirit of Jesus dwells at the heart of our community and we will fulfill our “mission” (another frequent word in Curry’s lexicon) to the degree that we remain open to the Jesus Spirit.

Openness is another hallmark of Bishop Curry’s vision. He wants members of the church to throw open our arms and embrace the world. He wants us to think beyond simply open arms as an invitation to come in and to see the open arms of Jesus as an invitation to the church to go out. He urges Christians to go out and meet people in the world, to encounter them where they live finding the love that is Jesus where people work and play.