How to Create an Emergent Movement

By Discernment Group -

Posted November 18, 2006

See A review of The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus









        "Erwin McManus is unusually qualified to write this book. I first knew him as we pastored churches about a mile apart in the shadow of downtown Dallas. For years he has been a trusted friend and mentor in new ways of understanding God, the church, and spiritual maturity. He is now the pastor of a vibrant church community that is on an authentic journey to wholeness…. Mosaic is… in a rocket ride of transition….
        "At Leadership Network, we spend our days looking for innovative, God-empowered churches. Mosaic is a pioneer among pioneers. We have sent many church leaders to Mosaic to see the future firsthand."

        --Brad Smith of Leadership Network's Foreword to An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus

"This book models what a postmodern, purpose-driven church can look like. Every church is called to fulfill five eternal purposes that Jesus gave in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These purposes never change. But the styles and methods we use to fulfill these purposes MUST change with every new generation and target. Mosaic uses five elemental metaphors to represent the New Testament purposes…."

        --Rick Warren's Foreword to An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus

The previous post raised questions about the five elements from pagan spirituality that Erwin McManus has introduced to the evangelical world. How could such a thing happen?

Well, to answer that question we have to go back to the beginning. Have you ever wondered how provocative emerging leaders like McManus got their start? Let's suggest an imaginative scenario:

How to start an emergent movement:

1. Identify, select and "mentor" a core group of young men and/or hip-acting older men.

2. Train them in the art of change management.

3. Equip them with the latest marketing skills.

4. Educate them in the subtleties of communication strategies.

5. Inculcate in them an overarching worldview that incorporates new vistas, pushing the theological envelope outside the parameters of traditional evangelicalism.

6. Send out these core leaders in designated directions, like arrows shot into the culture, with a mandate to:

a) start a church or overhaul an existing church,
b) choose a theological paradigm that fits their lifestyle, temperament, passion, and background,
c) focus on their unique specialty where they are adept at pushing boundaries to new extremes,
d) publish a book -- with plenty of financial backing, key endorsements and promotional pizazz -- that introduces their unique new concept, practice or doctrine,
e) go out on the speaker's circuit as the designated "expert," and
f) never miss an opportunity to promote their particular brand name agenda through various high-tech means.

7. Train each leader to focus on his own market share while staying on course with the main plan for transformation.

8. Diversify by ensuring that some core leaders appear to be more mainstream while others are working on the fringes of the movement.

9. Carefully groom the core leaders in the arts of dialectics so that at any given time some will appear to be disagreeing with others on nitpicky or doctrinal topics, while moving forward with the overall agenda.

10. Teach the leaders to use dialogue ("conversation") as a massive-scale focus group so that the overall thrust for church transformation can be tweaked as it "evolves" and "emerges."

11. Assist them in "replicating their DNA" by creating down-line networked systems of transitioning churches that follow their particular rendition of the overall model.

12. Provide them the technical assistance to customize tools for assessment, databanking and monitoring the system of inputs and outputs to evaluate their "effectiveness." And replicate this "continuous quality improvement" system ad nauseum.

Now, let's suppose that there were four major directions that the core group leadership took as they were sent out. Each stream would only differ on the externals and nonessentials, but the main agenda would still be emergent transformation.

The analogy to this would be marketing mint-flavored toothpaste to customers. A test marketer could send four different mint toothpastes for trial and input from focus groups. One toothpaste would appeal to those who like cool gel, another customer would prefer extra flouride, a third customer uses the baking soda, and a fourth customer needs the tartar control. Each type of toothpaste could be marketed to different groups of people based on their various needs and preferences. The point is that it is still mint toothpaste!

Earlier Herescope posts documented the particular role that Leadership Network played in selecting, training and managing a core group of hip young leaders to become the Emergent/emerging Church:

The two Forewards to McManus' first book, cited at the top of this post, were not an anomaly. Here is just a brief sampling of Erwin McManus' associations with Leadership Network:


Leadership Network advertised this event in their publications. This one is dated October 27, 2000:

The Terranova Project - an initiative of the Young Leader Networks, September 5-7, 2001
Hold the date. I have been told that several church planting agencies are sending large groups of Church Planters to this gathering. Look for more details soon.

NEW CENTURY, NEW CHURCH 2 "Advancing the Equipping Church." From Leadership Training Network
Join us in San Diego September 23-26, 2001

Alan Webber, Founding Editor, Fast Company
Wayne Cordeiro, New Hope Christian Fellowship
Kirbyjon Caldwell, Windsor Village United Methodist Church
Bill Easum, Easum, Bandy and Associates
Ken Blanchard, The Ken Blanchard Companies
Erwin McManus, Mosaic
Bruce Bugbee, Network Ministries
Greg Ogden, Fuller Theological Seminary
Alan Nelson, Scottsdale Family Church; SW Leadership Foundation
Sue Mallory, Leadership Training Network…

Church Champions: Serving Consultants/Catalysts to Congregations
A service of Leadership Network


McManus was Leadership Network's Camp Improv narrator with speakers Ronald Heifetz, Ray Bakke, Jim Collins, Mary Crossan. Below is promotional material and his bio:

Camp Improv is a 21st century learning experience. It's about leadership. It's about ideas. It's about learning. It's about new skills. It's about preparation. It's about getting ready for what's next. Camp Improv is Leadership Network's 2003 National Learning Experience. September 30 - October 2.

Erwin Raphael McManus
Serving as Camp Narrator for Camp Improv is Erwin McManus
Erwin is lead pastor and cultural architect of Mosaic in Los Angeles. Recognized for its spiritual creativity and cultural diversity, Mosaic is a community of followers of Jesus Christ committed to live by faith, to be known by love, and to be a voice of hope.

Known for his skills as a gifted cultural and biblical communicator, Erwin speaks on such issues as globalization, leadership, cultural transformation, post-modernism and church growth.

His first book, An Unstoppable Force, (Group, 2001) was followed by Seizing Your Divine Moment released in October, 2002 (Thomas Nelson). He is also a contributing editor for Leadership Journal.

A native of El Salvador, Erwin is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Kim, have two children, Aaron and Mariah.


Leadership Network continued to promote McManus.

Into ACTION, Ideas, connections and tools for equipping others.
Issue Number 39, January 30, 2004

Erwin McManus to Speak at the North Coast Training Network's Annual Video Venue Conference! -- March 13-15.

The Truth:

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Lamentations 3:37)

© 2006 by Discernment Group -


See also Erwin McManus & the Five Elements | The Futurist Worldview

  Ted Haggard's Lies| Are you in the throes of Transformation?

The Newest Heresy of the NAR: Orality  | Using CHANGE to facilitate TRANSFORMATION

Wilkinson's Dream For Africa is Shattered | Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism

A Blinding Darkness | Global Day of Prayer | The Second Reformation

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