An interview with Dave Gibbons and Erwin McManus

Posted on June 26, 2009



I had a chance to sit and listen to a dialogue with Mosaic’s Cultural Architect Erwin McManus and Newsong’s Social Enterpeneur Dave Gibbons. It was an amazing experience and I learned a ton about loving, leadership, and being a hope to humanity.

Erwin and Dave Gibbons Q and A | 6.23.09

1. What has changed since your 20s and when you started ministry until now?

Erwin: Transition is about moving people to authentic conversations.  Learn how to help others tell the truth

  • The end of inauthentic conversations = crisis (we find easy to say what you think you should say or what others want to hear)
  • Erwin in his 20s – leadership was about what I could do (lots of energy, little fear; but like playing basketball
  • In his 30s – how can I invest instead of just what I can do (he had to slow down, felt like he lost years of his life…1 step forward, 8 steps back
  • In his 40s – discovering power of community on mission together
  • In his 50s –
  • What challenge and skills


  • Moved from mega church idea to “Whatever” is on God’s heart (no 1 model)
  • From position of straining to advocate of weakness
  • From passion to pain
  • Weakness defines a lot of who you are (has your weakness become your voice of authority, your place of resonance with this and the next generation)
  • Foolish things of the world that confound the mighty (my strength is made perfect in weakness)
  • I’m at my best when others are shining; I’ve learned to imp of being in the background
  • Scarcity brings clarity.

 2. What do you care about?

  • Dave: It depends where I am and who I’m with
  • Erwin: sunny outside, will our kids do well in school -> Erwin realized that most people don’t disagree with my beliefs, but why don’t they act and do what the believe?
  • “We all believe same things but don’t care about the same things.”
  • Filter of what you believe is irrelevant, but only about what you do about what you care about

3. How to gain credibility and influence in the world outside the church? (b/c Dave and Erwin pursuing business endeavors)

  • Dave: Know who you are before you think
  • Adaptation, more fluid you will be able to navigate (Not occupational idea, but “Lord, I’m your servant.”
  • “The man who planted trees” documentary and book (a person who is able to adapt to changing times)
  • Develop higher skill of adaptation
  • Erwin: you don’t have to be an expert; but you do have to be voracious learners and take deep interest in the world. Be interested
  • The other side is (Erwin has been studying about “what creates conscious” — and most has been reconstructed)
  • Develop credibility in the world & more importantly develop a voice of conscienceness /authenticity which is what gives you credibility in the world
  • Don’t choose what everyone else is choosing
  • More involved than what’s inside the text, but what you bring what’s inside of you (people use bible for evil)
  • Alchemist – when people hear them, they know they’ve touched the divine (people know when they see, hear, and encounter this); become an alchemist, meaning be connected to the sacred, the divine (b/c if you don’t have that, you’re just like everyone else)
  • Without that inner voice that draws the world to that uniqueness you’ll be present w/o presence
  • When this is in place, then pursue building credibility by being interested, and utilizing the talents, gifts and opportunities that God gives…

4. When do you ask people to not be part of your community anymore when what they are doing damages the whole?

  • Dave: 3 things push me toward continued investment: (1) do they want to learn, (2) do I sense a light on him, holy spirit God leading you to him, (3) do they want investment
  • Utilized the power of community (don’t take too much on yourself)
  • You can do the right thing, but if you do it in the wrong way, you were wrong
  • When we are tired someone else can step into help.

5. How can Newsong and Mosaic work/partner together? Do you have ideas about it?

  • Erwin: Ideas aren’t always conclusions; they remain inspirations; and sometimes that’s enough
  • We’re laying everything on table and creating a partnership; work together in variety of ways
  • Nothing structured for now
  • Exclusion and Embrace (Mirslov Volf): all the space for people to have their own identity
  • How do we show the world that we really love each other? (give away your name, your rights, so we can see Jesus glorified)
  • God what you desire, we’ll follow You
  • Churches continue to exist b/c they buy property not b/c they have a mission that binds them together and causes them to move into the future.

6. How do you decipher what’s imp and what’s not? What should last and what shouldn’t?

  • Erwin: Don’t try to fix people in their 20s (easier to find compass than zeal or passion)
  • Dave: pain forms you (fully embrace this) – part of God’s honing instrument
  • Community, not just small group, but have people to have full access to speak into your life

7. Movement: what do you see God doing in each other’s churches and global work?

  • Erwin about NS: economically viable and entrepreneurial creative
  • What you guys do at NS in arena of Social justice is a benchmark (so much passion and humility that exudes from you Dave)
  • Dave about Mosaic: it’s on the ground; we work with whatever you got…Resourceful
  • Shaping language to help connect with the world (artists are prophets of next generation, and mosaic is that)
  • Risk criticism at Mosaic (more you love Jesus, the more xians hate you): mosaic has navigated huge criticism in a very honorable way, and now have a platform b/c of how well
  • Erwin is a beautiful mind (people don’t always get him): Erwin loves Jesus and humanity the way Jesus would

8. How to avoid burnout?

  • Erwin: Not the bible that helps someone live a moral life (it’s when people are truly connected to Jesus)
  • There are lots of lost people that live honorable lives
  • It’s about escape (that’s why someone kills their wife instead of divorcing); pastors want to get out so they self-destruct
  • Burnout is about doing something you don’t love way too much
  • When you do something you love, you become “addicted” (like athletes who get addicted to pain and practice)
  • Listen to your soul (it’s ok to change; take ownership); I once was this person but now I’m not; we don’t give each other an out
  • Don’t do things b/c you like the outcome idea, but b/c the process is rewarding
  • Primary movement of life is from illusion to reality (figure out a way to penetrate the illusions, and then you found something that’s a treasure; then it’ll help you live a fruitful life)
  • Create space for people and activity that energizes you (ministry isn’t supposed to just be “our cross that we must bear” but what are you doing that energizes you in realm of God’s will)
  • 1. Find out who and what energizes you
  • 2. Be intentional about having people speak into your life (what can I change about myself? What do you see in me?)
  • 3. What did you hear God say?

9. What and who inspires you in terms of culture/global?

  • Creates environments are created (read about transitions): you’ll begin to see how people shift from a reality they once had to a reality that long to see.
  • Twitter: a world of conversations in a safe place (people can learn to trust you)
  • Eriwn on Human Communication – we can listen and hear a human being before they even speak (we can connect with their consciousness): peel what is inside of people out (you can hear what people are speaking to you); communication is not all about what they have to say, rather than focusing on what do you need to listen to and know that will shape your communication.

10. How do we become better speakers?

  • Never allow my convictions to demand my conclusions.  Focus on my journey to my convictions.
  • Erwin doesn’t say “I believe” but instead “I’ve become convinced.” Or “This is what I know.”
  • Give yourself permission to let go of beliefs to get back there on a journey which in the end makes you stronger.
  • Look for a breakthrough thought that no one has ever had before.  One quotable moment per message as a gift to those listening.
  • What about this passage/theme moves me?
  • Look at the passage from the perspectives of the other people in the story.  (Ex. The blind man with mud made from spit and dirt on his eyes from Jesus wandered to the pool must have been scared and frustrated and even embarrassed). 
  • “Inspire” = “give life”
  • Story must be inside of you to communicate it well, so we can get the story inside of those who are listening.
  • Become truth tellers, directors, and leaders. If it was a good moment, help them know why.
Posted in: Creative Leaders