“For Church Leaders: Thoughts from Erwin McManus (MTN2014)



Our time at Mosaic Terra Nova (MTN2014) started with a reunion of great friends from across the planet – from Paris, New Zealand, Shanghai, Toronto, and all across the U.S..

Here are some of Erwin’s thoughts on reaching others, the importance of creativity, creating fully-alive communities, and creating the future:

Sometimes God gives us ideas that others have more courage and creativity to pull off.

Mosaic may not do anything best, but our stewardship is to try some things first.

Leadership requires knowing what are the right questions for your situation.

Ethos is the environment that created culture and then movement. (An Unstoppable Force)

Governments monitor and manages people. This is the default for all institutions – even religion. Guilt and shame are motivators that don’t require life change.

The Artisan Soul is about allowing artistry to help people become the best versions of themselves at whatever they are already doing.

Soul Cravings was designed to give the Church new language for reaching people. Christian anthropology says we all sin. and we can be forgiven. God is angry and the Judge. An anthropology that can reach people in today’s world means starting at the beginning when God is seen as the Creator, an Artist. God became Judge when we severed the relationship, so why do we forget  God’s primary identity.

The Church needs a manifesto of creativity – a new way of communicating who God really is!

The Church hasn’t been biblical by allowing concrete and linear theology to remove the mystery of who God is!

Throw away the containers that are holding the Truth captive. We are to be a movement of dreamers and visionaries!

When we speak to our people, what are you calling them to fight for? In what ways are you trying to change what they believe and how they live.

Our goal is to create a community that is fully alive and helping people discover their own uniqueness. Doesn’t mean everyone becomes painters and dancers!

Our goal needs to be to move people to know God rather than towards good theology, but knowing God is what brings about good theology. Too often we try to fix peoples’ theology so they can know God which is the opposite order. Bring people to Jesus, and He will help them know who He is.

Faith is like romance. If you love everyone then you don’t love anyone.

If someone says they believe in Jesus and believes in the Bible but they don’t truly follow Him or His ways, help them see that they don’t truly trust Him. When people add Jesus as one of the things they are trying then later they will leave Him bitter even though they never truly embraced Him. Better to try all the other ways before truly trying Jesus only.

When it takes 7 years for someone to choose to follow Christ, the issue could be we aren’t helping them as much as we think we are. If we aren’t getting any pushback or resistance from them along the way then we are going too slow. If they leave and never return, we may have gone too fast.

Do people look at your life and want to become more like you? The more they see Jesus in us, the more they will want to follow Him. At the same time, learn to see the fingerprints of God in their life and help them see they are further along  towards Jesus than they may think they are.

People are closer to following God than we realize. The problem is we are too uncomfortable to start the conversation where they are. If you don’t talk about God early in the relationship then it may take years.

Don’t tell people about Jesus as much as tell your story and not exclude Jesus as part of our story.

Have the courage to ask people to follow Jesus. Choose to believe people will follow Jesus. Be willing to be humiliated.

We aren’t asking people to change their beliefs but to submit their lives to the Creator of the universe! This is a big deal. If we ask people to take incremental steps then we get incremental disciples.

Listen to their story and listen for moments when God was at work even if they do not see it.

To skeptics: “you may not believe what we do about God, but you can experience community here in a very lonely city.”

“You can sing Beyoncé and Jay Z even if you don’t believe it, so you can sing Jesus. Just try it and see what happens!”

Create moments of awe, moments filled with anticipation and surprise!

Evangelism needs to take place one on one and in small community and in large groups of people.

We always assume we are person one in someone’s journey to Jesus. We could be the 20th person! Don’t assume everyone is at the beginning. Instead listen to where they really are.

Often people are more ready to follow Jesus than we are to ask them to follow Him.

Use language relevant to the people we are trying connect, serve, and influence.

Don’t try to be a voice for everyone, but find who your voice helps. We can grow to help a broader group as we grow as a person.

Never be creative for the sake of creativity. Creativity should be motivated by our desire to connect our friends to Christ who aren’t understanding how Jesus has been shared to them in the past.

Four types of churches reaching four types of people:

Liturgical – all about how faith connects with the past (Catholic, Episcopalian, etc.)

Confessional – all about what you believe (Baptists, Reformed, and so on)

Experiential – all about the experiences we have (Pentecostals, Charismatics, etc.)

Mystical – all about God’s presence and connection to His Spirit (George Muller, St, Francis, Andrew Murray, Mosaic, etc.). There are sacred rituals, confessions, and important experiences.

Don’t assume our story is the defining story. Our job is to listen! Bring light into the other’s story.

The solution is not to belittle how others are doing things. Value how God is working through others.

It is better to be loving and wrong then unloving and right.

Some try to simplify the message of the Bible but some are reached through the mystery of the Scriptures. Rather than just a “How To” manual, the Scriptures are the portal into the presence of God.

Preaching needs to become art and literature and poetic. Our teaching from the Scriptures needs to create transcendental moments.

“Making a great film requires creating 5 amazing moments.” – director of the film Elizabeth

Make progress towards a moment and from a moment.

Elements of Great Communication:

  • Earth – Am I authentic? People are asking: “Do I believe you?”
  • Water – Can I connect with others? You want people to say: “This is also my story.”
  • Fire – Are you passionate and calling people to fight for something?
  • Wood – What is the seed being planted and what can people do next?
  • Wind – What are the insights being shared? What are the quotable moments?

Don’t tell the Scriptures what to say. Let the Bible speak for itself. Let go of what you’ve been taught so you can hear what God is actually saying.

We don’t really believe the Bible. We only believe the Bible we can handle. The Bible is God’s Word to us and true.

Read every word as if it is there for a reason. Don’t just read the Bible but let the Bible read you.

The first third of your talk determines who your message is for. Are you speaking to only those who believe or are we willing to include those who doubt and are skeptical.

For example, read the passage wondering what an Egyptian sees. When you look with fresh eyes you discover that God loved blessing Egypt. Egypt rescued Israel! Egypt was the first nation blessed by God as a result of His promise to Abraham. t was only when there was a Pharoah that forgot Joseph that Egypt was no longer on God’s side.

With everyone we meet we are making social contracts. Too often we try to sneak our faith and Jesus into a relationship way too late. As a result, we violate our social contracts and seem untrustworthy to them. (John Burke)

Live a life others want to live so they will then trust the Scriptures and Jesus. They want to see what works in you!

In a church of engineers, don’t ask how do we become more artistic but how to be more human. Help engineers connect with their heart.

Help people live a life of love and true passion. Drive the church by what you care about not what you know.

The world is changed when people share a dream and pull it off using their uniqueness as part of the community.

God’s dream for humanity needs to be the glue of how we all serve together with our dreams within His dream.

The greatest material with which to create beauty remains the human material he gives us.

Ask: is this a lateral move or a forward move? Otherwise, our leaders think we are saying “no” to moving at all. Give reasons why this move doesn’t take us forward.

The best leaders begin to create the new when the current structure is still thriving. Creatives may know something needs to change even if they don’t know what it is. Artists may try to change structures or methods when what is wrong is culture and ethos.

You can only grow the church on the ones willing to sacrifice not on those who are looking for something convenient.

Leadership means calling leadership out of others not just assuming you are the only one who can do it or the only one who cares.

As bees make hives and birds build nests, humans create futures.

In the future, there will be no distinction between spirituality and creativity! It will be as common opening our Bible and praying.

Err on the side of experimenting and trying. Ask God to make you great at what the world needs most.

Surrender your need for prestige and greatness to raise up others more talented and capable of changing the world. Be a pioneer rather than a settler.

  • patrick voo

    awesome – thanks for sharing these thoughts eric! erwin is as provocative as ever – but i know that what we read here is just as much coloured by what you chose to pay attention to and flag as vital!

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