CNLP 452: Erwin McManus on the Future of the Church, How to Do Evangelism More Effectively, Authenticity and Reflections on Being Labeled a Heretic

Erwin McManus returns to the podcast to talk about the future of the church, how to have more effective evangelism with people who don’t believe in Jesus and why it’s so hard for Christians to be authentic. Erwin also reflects on a lifetime of being labeled a heretic and outsider in the church he so deeply believes in.

Welcome to Episode 452 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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Conversation Links

The Genius of Jesus by Erwin McManus

The Genius Of Podcast YouTube

The Genius Of Podcast on Apple Podcasts


The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus


Battle Ready Podcast with Erwin and Aaron McManus

The Genius Of Podcast: Ed Mylett 

Lewis Howes: A Spiritual Path for Success with Erwin McManus

The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes

Walter O’Brien

CNLP 163: Erwin McManus on Living Fully Alive, Tackling Your Fears, Dealing with Critics and Creating Space for People Not Like You

CNLP 212: Erwin McManus on How to Spot a Narcissist in Leadership, Overcoming the Need for Approval, and What He Experienced at The Global Leadership Summit 2018

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Insights From Erwin

1. Influence is here to stay, sometimes

Ten or 20 years ago, influence was gained through achieving something significant and was based on word of mouth. Now with social media, we have a new type of celebrity influence that is short-term and usually a “firework,” where people are drawn in but are quickly pulled away to the next idea or celebrity. Lasting, sustainable influence does still stand the test of time and is built on commitment, ideas that impact, culture and carving a path for the future. Erwin calls this “multilayered influence.”

2. We need a community of people not perfection

Some people are of the opinion that the time of large gatherings (whether in or outside the Church) is a thing of the past. Erwin disagrees saying, “Humans don’t need perfect experiences. They need authentic transparent human experiences.”

We long for that communal dynamic where we chant and cheer together for the home team, worship with hundreds of others who are singing the same words, or experience live music with thousands of other people who feel the same emotions we do in that moment. The desire to celebrate and bond over shared experiences is knit into us by God.

3. Evangelism isn’t an IQ tug-of-war, it’s loving and listening

When it comes to talking about Jesus, you shouldn’t be trying to outsmart the other person with your wits (if you are, you’re going about evangelism the wrong way). Erwin clarifies, “I really believe that all the material to come to believe already exists inside of that person that you don’t need to bring something to that person as much as you need to pull something out of that person.”

People open up when we are real and authentic with them, when we don’t have an agenda and don’t try to convert everyone as soon as we walk into a room. “Walk into a room trying to understand someone, to truly care about that person, to know their life and their story, and then to pay attention to where you can see the fingerprint of God all over their life,” Erwin encourages.

Do you want to show people God’s love for them? Then listen, learn and care.

Quotes from Episode 452

To be a futurist in the church, you only need to see the present. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet I'm here to violate your view of reality. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Today's heresy is tomorrow's orthodoxy. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet There is no new without God. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet If you're going to do evangelism in this new world, you better learn how to inhabit this new world. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet If churches spent all their energy trying to get back what they've lost, they're not going to be postured for the future. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Evil tends to have a proactivity, and good tends to have a passivity. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Community is the greatest solution to violence. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet I'm actually for the church, but I'm not for mutually accepted delusion. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet This idea that our most committed people are coming every week is actually an illusion that makes us feel like what we're doing is really valid. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Humans don't need perfect experiences. They need authentic, transparent human experiences. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet We underestimate how open people are, and they just want to know you're real. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet I never walk into a room trying to convert someone. I walk into a room trying to understand someone. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Jesus would never be accepted by the orthodoxy of modern Christianity. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet If the highest form of intelligence is creativity, then curiosity becomes the fuel of our genius. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Our curiosity is essential to unlocking our genius. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet To disagree with me at least means you gave me some consideration. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet The dumbest choices you will ever make will not cost you money. It will cost you people. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet What we have to reclaim is the ability to create safe environments for people to be imperfect. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet Right and wrong gets you into a moralistic dilemma. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet I'm so frustrated that we've made Jesus a moralistic narrative of how to get out of trouble because you've done bad things. @erwinmcmanus Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: John Ruhlin

John Ruhlin, founder of Giftology, specializes in helping leaders give gifts to top clients, donors and colleagues that they’ll remember for years to come. He explains why most leaders get gift-giving wrong, what not to give, and how to give gifts that build relationships and open doors, even on a small budget.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 453.

CNLP 452: Erwin McManus on the Future of the Church, How to Do Evangelism More Effectively, Authenticity and Reflections on Being Labeled a Heretic


  1. Milan Bittenbender on November 3, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of this podcast. Great job and many thanks Carey! This was a powerful episode. Erwin McManus is brilliant. There were so many fascinating nuggets that made me think deeply about how and why I do what I do. But one nugget about made me choke. It was unfortunate and unwise that “Todays heresy is tomorrow’s orthodoxy.” was a celebrated statement and suggested as a tweet. Even in the context of the conversation, I’m not sure I was able to “get there” with Erwin and Carey. But out of context, as a single statement that might be launched into the Twittersphere, that one is riddled with landmines. At best it is sloppy and careless. At worst, it suggests that anything/everything new under the sun is will become foundational truth. We just have to work it enough. It suggests that, “Truth changes and evolves; just give it enough time.” (Sounds like a theory that has become a scientific orthodoxy undermining the theological foundation of our very existence.) And, let’s be honest, there wasn’t really anything in the conversation to caution against that interpretation. This is the myth that makes everyone’s individual truth a valid orthodoxy for their own life, and now in the current cultural milieu, obligates everyone else to affirm it as truth as well. The world doesn’t need any more encouragement to keep making up its own truth. It’s nice for Erwin that he had one instance where that worked out for him and “proved everyone at Catalyst wrong”, but this is a dangerous, and dare I say heretical, idea on which to build a tweetable principle.

  2. friday night funkin on November 1, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you Carey!

  3. Ryan Paulson on October 29, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I usually really enjoy and respect Erwin McManus. However, on this episode he was less than truthful about his response to COVID. He claimed he said that this was going to be an “ice age.” That was Andy Crouch’s term, not Erwin’s. Here’s the article for reference:

    It wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it weren’t 180 degrees from the truth. The reality is that Erwin fought against the shutdowns and downplayed the pandemic at first. That’s fine, few people really understood what was happening (and Erwin wasn’t one of them) – but to be completely dishonest is wrong. He operated in revisionist history during this episode. Too bad, because a little bit of humility would go a long way in giving him viability as a leader.

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