Erwin McManus Advocates Following the Barbarian Way
- Wednesday, April 13, 2005
JC: What about churches giving the wrong message that this life will be blessed and we don’t have to get out of our comfort zones?
EM: Well I think it’s a misunderstanding of the human spirit. We become convinced if we don’t preach to certain needs or we don’t preach some kind of prosperity gospel or if we don’t reach the consumer oriented masses than people will not be drawn to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it’s almost as if we believe that only then when we bring a person to God is if we appeal to their faces, desires and longings and I am convinced that human beings, because we’re created in the image and likeness of God, even though it’s broken and fragmented but there’s something inside of the human spirit that longs to life a live with their ability, a life that is noble, a life that’s heroic. And for me the declaration of the gospel is a call to a heroic life. It’s not inviting people to receive the lowest level of their longings but to aspire to something beyond their greatest imagination.
JC: How does the barbarian way play out in your church?
EM: Well let me tell you, I love Mosaic. It’s got about a couple thousand people, average age is the mid-20s, we’re 70% single, maybe more. We have about 60 plus attending ethnicities, right now we’re 40% Asian and when I came here a decade ago I think we had nine Asians of our whole community. And it’s an incredibly diverse community. I mean yesterday we baptized a guy from Hinduism and I mean there are people coming out of Islam, Buddhism, Communist, Atheist. And part of it is we’re not trying to convince churched people to believe in Jesus in a more intense way, we’re actually dealing with people who worship other gods or when they think of god they don’t think of God of the scriptures. And it forces us into an entirely different conversation, but I think it’s actually a conversation that people in church need. And part of the way I’d say Mosaic is barbarian is one time we owned 3/4 of an acre of land, and we sold our land and became transient for a time for the next seven years. In three weeks we’ll be hitting six services in four different locations all over the city of Los Angeles and we move into nightclubs, we move into lots, we just look for any open spaces.
Right now we’re meeting in a club downtown called The Lion. And when you walk in the whole club is carved in Mayan gods. And I have to tell you when Christians walk in from the south or Midwest you can just see it in their face – what is a church doing here? And even this week I get emails from Christians around the country all the time angry with us because we’re in the world. And yet what they don’t realize is the first century church they didn’t have any nice comfy well-designed church building to meet in and we’re in the middle of all the pagan gods declaring Jesus as Lord. And somehow we’ve come to believe the suburban expression of Christianity is actually the biblical expression. We have a Chinese doctor and instead of taking her medical career and maximizing her income in an opportune area, she moves into an impoverished Latino community and opens up a Mosaic family center to provide quality healthcare for underprivileged families. That’s the part of the barbarian way. We averaged one adult a month living into what’s called a 1041 a living to the nations where the message of Jesus had never been heard for 40 years and people just kept relocating moving into India and Pakistan and Afghanistan and China. That’s the barbarian way. We see teams going into Mexico to work with impoverished communities and rebuild cities and work with city governments to try to bring social change so that the message of Jesus is in context for being authentic. To me that’s the barbarian way.
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