An Interview with Erwin McManus

found on the Monday Morning Insight blog.
An Interview with Erwin McManus

What does it mean to be a spiritual leader in the world of Hollywood? Erwin McManus declares Los Angeles as the capital of the future. As the leader behind Mosaic, he has a lot of profound thoughts about the role of the church, creativity, and risk-taking for the Christian in today’s culture. In this insightful interview with Infuze Magazine, McManus shares more about the role of creativity, why the church lacks innovators, and gives us the details of his upcoming book..

Matt: You’re in arguably the creative center of the world. What is it like to be a pastor there?

Erwin: Wow. It is a different world. I guess I don’t think of myself as a pastor in this setting. I think being a human who lives a life that others might be interested in and attracted to and having a journey that others feel is authentic and really connects to God. That’s really why I’m here. I’m trying to live out the life that Jesus talks about, hopefully in a context where people will go, “Maybe this is real.”

Okay, I agree with you. But obviously your expression of that looks different in Los Angeles than it does in other places like the east coast…

Oh yes. Dramatically. One of the differences, obviously, on the east coast is you’re still dealing with a very European or Western paradigm for people who don’t believe. On the west coast, we have 80 plus nationalities at Mosaic and most of those are under 28 years old. So, it’s a whole different kind of postmodernism.

So when I hear a lot of even the Emergent conversation about postmodernism, it’s not at all what we’re dealing with. We’re not dealing with people who are angry with Christianity because they’ve never been exposed to it. We’re not dealing with people who are trying to look back. A lot of midwestern or east coast postmodernism is trying to look back to an Eastern Orthodox or Catholicism and we have people who come out of Buddhism, Hinduism and Roman Catholicism. So a highly ritualistic approach to religion left them empty.

So it’s an entirely different conversation. They’ve given up on organized religion. For them, a lot of the classicly postmodern things would be still very organized religion. I think it’s organized religion for Christians figuring out how to create community for themselves.

So I realized several years ago when I was in conversations about what it means to be post-modern, what it means to be non-modern, it’s an entirely different world. I’m dealing with people who are actually very spiritual. They’re deeply spiritual. I think L.A. is a very mystical city. Creativity moves you toward mysticism.

How do you tap into that?

One of the great challenges is that people don’t really care what I know or believe or have been trained to teach. It’s very intuitive. They decide whether you’ve actually met God, even when they don’t believe. They are people who end up going, “I think this person is in an experience living in a dimension that I’m interested in. I’m unsure if it exists but I’m willing to stay long enough to find out.”

Which is such a dramatic shift from the rest of the nation…

Oh, yeah! That’s why I feel like sometimes I’m in a different country. I don’t feel like I’m in the United States anymore. And I think that’s why, honestly, people get nervous about Mosaic and about me because we’re so mystical. We’re not trying to figure out what is a cool, cultural American way of getting people to act Christianly. We’re basically saying that the invisible is reality. At your core, you are spirit and everything is understood out of this context.

If you go to our podcast, I don’t know if you know that we have a podcast, my last three talks have been on suffering, Hell, and sexual orientation. We actually deal with pretty intense subjects. This is not a place where we avoid things.

Do you feel like people think that about Mosaic?

No, I think that most traditional churches avoid the important issues. They act like they deal with the important issues, but they’re answering questions that noone is asking. They say things in such definitive ways where we all go, “Yes, that’s right.”

I think one of the differences is that Christian churches focus on what the Bible says. That’s all they have to do. It doesn’t matter if they’re reformed, emergent or whatever it is, they focus on what it says. We focus on why. We say, “If this is really God speaking to us, then it has to make sense. It has to give us a holistic view of the universe. It has to have an integrated relational core where everything begins to come together.”

So there’s a sense where we focus on not being simplistic, but being simple. We look for the elegance in truth. Because I’m dominantly dealing with people who do not see the Bible as their authority. So if I get up there and say, “Well, the Bible says this,” I’m sunk instantly.

The Walmart Factor for Churches

I like this guy. He consistently faciliates good disucussions. Read on if you are interested in church growth.

By Todd Hertz
Here’s one that will get you thinking. I live in the midwest. Typical small town. I remember years back when Walmart came to town. It’s a battle that has taken place in communities all over the country. Small local merchants tremble. How will we be able to compete? I’ve recently watched with interest in my small town when the new, improved SUPERWalmart opened (they tore the old one down). Now, in our town, we can purchase FOOD at our Walmart as well. This made the local grocery store chain across the street change the way they do business. They remodeled their store. The spent a ton of money on advertising telling everyone in our town that they’ve lowered their prices on thousands of items. We want your business, they said. And it almost came across at times as begging… please don’t go there, please keep shopping here. The end result in our community is that we now have two stores, and lower grocery prices.

Well, yesterday I was reading over at Don Chapman’s Worship Ideas blog; and he asks what will happen if the Walmart Factor ever hits your small town. Of course, he’s talking about the multi-site movement that is finding more and more larger megachurches branching out and opening new locations all over the place. How will your church respond when and if it happens in your town? Don asks…

What will happen if [or when] Rick Warren [Todd’s insert… RW probably isn’t a good example for MMI readers! Let’s say Ed Young instead!] plants a church in your town? Suddenly, I’ll bet the battles over the color of your carpet, or whether you do enough hymns will matter that much in the face of fierce competition by a megachurch on the move.

Which church do you think your average visitor would rather go to: a church that allows off-pitch Aunt Sally to sing solos, or a mega church with standards? [By the way, you don’t have to be a megachurch to have standards.]

In other words, churches, get over your dumb, ingrown habits and start getting serious about your mission. Or you’re going to go out of business.

I think Don has a point… the status quo for churches in your community may be changing. I know that Don’s remarks will probably spark alot of controversy… but before you start tapping on your comment keys, consider what he’s saying. He’s saying (not to put words in his mouth) that competition may be coming to your area. My thought is… is that such a bad thing? If more people are coming to Christ in your community, is that a bad thing? If another church moves in across town and causes your church (and others) to make changes so that your communities’churches are more effective; aren’t there really two (or more) more effective churches in your community rather than one that isn’t effective?

Isn’t that ultimately great for the Kingdom?

What are your thoughts…?


Flag of Our Fathers

I am still (unsure of word here) after seeing Flag of Our Fathers. But that’s how you should feel after watching a movie about war. It brings a sense of perspective.

Similar to the violence in Saving Private Ryan, (which is not gratitious but in both movies a great attempt at accuarcy), FOUF, left me almost overwhelmed.

The movie is about the famous picture of the soldiers who lifted the American Flag on Iwa Jima, that has the story goes, was a moment of inspiration for our nation. In the previews I saw, there was debate on the validity of the picture. You even hear a reporter ask, “Was it staged?” Having never conisderd the accuaracy of this picture prior to seeing this movie, this is where the beauty and the struggle of the movie takes place.

The soliders in the picture are regarded as heroes. They are brought back to the States and are begin touring and fundraising for the war effort. The main protagonist, Doc, (played by the actor known as Reese Witherspoon’s husband may get his name back, Ryan Phillippe) is the one that audience cheers on for his bravery and heart which depicts his conflict and his goodness.

This is another one of those movies that is difficult to call it “Good” because of its violence and pain. But it is.

CBS 60 Minutes airs special on Darfur this Sunday.

(taken from an email sent from Save Darfur)

Seventeen years ago I fled Darfur.

But not a day goes by when I don’t think of my family and friends who remain in the region – along with the millions of other Darfuris currently suffering at the hands of a genocidal regime.

Yet, despite the devastation, we must not give up hope. There is something we can do to stop this genocide. It begins with raising awareness to help build pressure on our political leaders to act.

That is why I am so pleased to tell you that this Sunday evening the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” will air a story about the genocide in Darfur.

Click here to read more about the segment and to check local television listings.

The Sudanese government continues to deny its role in the perpetration of genocide, restricting reporters from entering the region in order to hide the truth.

Yet CBS correspondent Scott Pelley and his “60 Minutes” crew went anyway, putting their lives in jeopardy. Their report on what is happening is both powerful and devastating.

I know because I was with Pelley and his crew when they filmed this piece. It is haunting and evocative – because it is real. There is no doubt in my mind that after watching this segment, millions of Americans will be compelled to act to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Thank you for everything you continue to do.


Omer Ismail
Fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Founder of Darfur Peace and Development Organization

A Seminar on "Issues Facing Adolscent Girls"

Last night, my wife and I attended an evening seminar regarding issues facing adolscent girls. Among the topics that were discussed (and will be discussed next week) are: Depression, Eating Disorders, Sexuallity, Addiction, and Cutting.

It was put on by a local church in their sanctuary and the speaker panel were professional counselors and social workers. I was glad to see the church host this very important topic.

I mention this not because I desire a pat on the back, (ok, I’d like for you to put up a life-size poster of me on above the mantle but aside from that), it’s a great thing for other churches to do. Maybe a panel discussion regarding boys will follow too. Also, please note that aside from an opening prayer, it was not blatantly “Christian”.

In any event, on a 101 level, I thought this was very beneficial and will most use my notes as a starting point for some issues.

Breakpoint – Save Us From the Time of Trial

* Although I hate to sound like a doomsday prophet, religious freedom in our country is becoming less and less.

Save Us from the Time of Trial by Mark Early of Breakpoint
Religious Persecution

October 16, 2006

Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.

When Americans go to the polls in November, their voting decisions will be based on many different factors: the war in Iraq, the economy, and, perhaps, some recent revelations about former Congressman Foley (R-Fla.).

But there’s another issue that should weigh into the decision of voters, especially Christians: religious freedom, at home and abroad.

If what I just said is news to you, you’re hardly alone. Religious freedom is something that nearly all Americans, including Christians, take for granted. Unfortunately, many of our brethren around the world know better.

A recent article in Time magazine described the precarious relationship of Chinese Christians to their government. As Time put it, “openly religious” Chinese, by which Time meant Christians, live under the “constant threat” of a “brutal government response” to the practice of their faith.

The situation is even worse in the Islamic world: From Indonesia to Nigeria, the rise of radical Islam has been accompanied by the end of any pretense of tolerance toward Christians.

A few months ago, Chuck told “BreakPoint” listeners about Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Christian convert who faced the death penalty for converting. While he was eventually freed, it was only because of U.S. pressure, resulting in the court deciding that he was mentally ill—hardly a ringing endorsement for religious freedom.

In Iraq, just about the only thing the Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds can agree on is their dislike for the Assyrians, Iraq’s indigenous Christian population. As a result, many members of what is arguably the oldest Christian community in the world are leaving their ancient homeland. A similar exodus is underway among Christian Palestinians.

In Egypt, the Copts, while nominally allowed to practice their faith, must overcome legalized harassment almost every step of the way. Sometimes, the harassment turns to murder: Last year, three Copts were killed, and a nun was stabbed in anti-Copt riots.

It isn’t only one-party states and Islamic countries that violate religious freedom: Earlier this month (October 4), Hindu extremists kidnapped and tortured a Christian convert. This is part of larger pattern that includes forced “re-conversions” to Hinduism. What’s even more outrageous is that perpetrators include members of India’s former ruling party, the BJP.

Here in the United States, infringement of religious freedom takes on many forms. We’ve told you about the attempt to remove the InnerChange Freedom Initiative® launched by Prison Fellowship from prisons because they are, in effect, “too Christian.”

Other ministries are experiencing similar difficulties: For instance, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been banned from several campuses while other, shall we say, less wholesome groups are fully allowed to operate.

We will tell you more about these difficulties over the next few days. What you need to understand now is that we can no longer take religious freedom for granted, at home or abroad.

We must make the loss of religious freedom an issue in the upcoming elections. Public officials need to be informed and accountable on this issue, not just for our sake but for our brethren around the world. We need to let them know that they are hardly alone in their hour of trial.

The Departed

Enjoyed watching The Departed.
Great acting, directing, and story line.
Violence, profanity, and gratuity are very prevalent. The Christianity Today has more to say on that.

NY Times Review of The Departed
CT Review of The Departed

Found this recently and I loved George's answer, t…

Found this recently and I loved George’s answer, thought I’d post it. Enjoy.

Good Question: Has God Played Fair? by Timothy George
Why did an omniscient God create humankind knowing that people, in every generation, would reject him? —Peggie Jones, Lowell, Arkansas

The honest answer to this question is, we don’t know—at least not in a cocksure, foolproof way that takes the risk out of faith and the mystery out of revelation. The Bible says that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29, NIV). And yet this is a natural and reasonable question to ask. We can say four things in response:

First, everything God does, by either explicit decree or permission, has an ultimate beneficial purpose. This includes the fact of hell and God’s judgment against rebellious sinners, as well as the blessings of heaven and salvation in Christ. Love and holiness are both essential attributes of God, and they are not in competition with one another. As with Job, in the face of suffering and mystery we are tempted to accuse God of wrongdoing and put him in the dock. But God’s answer to Job reaches us as well: “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8).

Second, this question assumes that human beings are victims caught in the vise of an inexorable fate. But the Bible teaches that God in his goodness has created a world of moral order, one in which men and women are free moral agents. By creating Adam and Eve in his image and likeness, God gave them a quality of relationship with him that no other creature has. God’s creative act was so great that he trusted them with freedom. Unfortunately, freedom includes the freedom to turn away from God, and that is what Adam and Eve did. The fact that God knew beforehand what they would do in no way abrogated their capacity to act and do as they chose. God condemns no one unjustly. God is the judge of all the earth, and he will do right by everyone. On the final day of judgment, no one will be able to stand before God and say to him, “I have been treated unfairly by you!”

Of course, exactly how the inequities of this life will be seen in the tapestry of eternity remains imponderable. But we do know that God’s plan is free and purposive, that he does not compel or coerce human creatures made in his image, and that nothing can ultimately thwart his glory and grace.

Third, it may seem that we can get God off the hook by denying his absolute foreknowledge of future events, by seeing Creation as an open-ended experiment about which even God is in the dark. Rather than taking the problem of evil seriously, though, such a view of God trivializes it. We would not praise a doctor who produced horrible deformities while experimenting with human cloning.

Nor can we find solace in a disabled deity whose creative power unleashes a floodtide of suffering and evil over which he has no certain knowledge and only limited control. Such a god might deserve to be pitied—but not worshiped and adored. This is why orthodox Christians of all confessions have affirmed God’s complete foreknowledge of the future, however much they may have differed on issues such as election and predestination.

Finally, Jesus Christ is the surest window into the heart of God. When Martin Luther was asked difficult questions such as the one posed here, he replied by encouraging his troubled friends to “look to the wounds of Jesus.” That same advice had been given to him as a young man, when, plagued by guilt, he doubted whether he could ever be accepted by a holy God. By focusing on Christ, he discovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In Jesus Christ, God’s grace and truth were realized in perfect equipoise. In Jesus we see that God is unspeakably generous, “abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6, KJV), and at the same time a God of uncompromised purity and righteousness. In Jesus Christ the Creator has become our Redeemer, the Judge has received our judgment. Through his death and resurrection, the way to eternal life has been forever opened to all who turn from selfishness and sin and in simple trust commit themselves to Christ for all time and eternity.

Timothy George, a CT executive editor, is dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham.

Ask a Question, Get a Gift
Send your questions to Good Question, Christianity Today, 465 E. Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188, or to If we use your question, you’ll receive a free copy of The Story of Christianity: 2,000 Years of Faith, a beautifully illustrated history of the church.

Copyright © 2001 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.

I know I haven't blogged in a while. Trying to …

I know I haven’t blogged in a while. Trying to catch up but it’s hard when you are out doing stuff – like going to Game 1 of the Yankees Playoffs and watching Jeter go for 5-5.