Announcing The Master Class Certificate

You live and lead in a white water rapid of cultural change.
Because of this, you cannot afford to simply react to the world around you.

YOU must learn to navigate change.
Because of this, it is critical, in our moment, that Christ following leaders learn to lead from the future.

How can we navigate the undercurrents of change and shape, influence (even create) the future?

The Master Certificate Class in Strategic and Ideational Leadership is designed to equip you to navigate these waters.

The next offering for this Certificate is February 2-6, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. You will gain

  • Frameworks for thinking about the future
  • Tools for anticipating the future
  • Trajectories for creating the future

The Master Class certificate includes either The Certificate in Strategic Leadership or the Certificate in Maximizing Human Capacity.

The Master Class includes additional sessions on Critical Cultural Issues. For example, in our time of rapid change, here are three questions (of many) that are shaping both our cultural and faith narratives. As co-creators with God of the human future, what will your contribution to this story be?


There are more singles today than ever. Divorce rates are high. (So high, for example, in Montreal that, in anticipation of a likely divorce, newly married couples must pay an additional administrative fee to legally change the bride’s name). The acceptance of Gay marriage is changing the meaning and usage of the word marriage.

Young urban affluents write about the negative impact of having children to their personal economics? Others advocate for the ecosystem, as if it were more valuable than future children. Still others write about killing their children, as if it were just another day on the job. One even filmed her abortion to show how enjoyable it was. Future children may be incubated within artificial wombs, raised by nanny-bots, and live out their lives in a world of fewer children.

Tech magazines write about porn as if it were a normal and acceptable (even respectable?) aspect of society. The rise of sensitive robots points to a potential future of unprecedented human-machine relationships.

Mindsets are changing. Rapidly. We often acknowledge how things are change, but do we stop to consider how we are changing.. and being changed?

What is the future of marriage? What is the future of sex? What is the future of the family? What is the future of children?

How might followers of Christ understand the changes that are underway in light of their story? To draw upon biblical imagery, where is the spirit hovering upon the face of the deep, upon the chaos of our present moment?


For millions of years before the rise of humans, living things experienced suffering, pain, and death. Multiple species of humans walked on Earth before the emergence of modern humans. New knowledge of this kind shakes the underpinnings of many who read the Bible as a chronological history.

The rise of Islam brings to the forefront billions of people who believe that God wrote a book. And millions of Christians feel the same way about the Bible that Muslims feel about the Qu’ran.

At the same time, are we hearing rumblings that some western Christ followers will want to distance themselves from both fundamentalist Muslims and Christians? Meanwhile, a conservative and fundamentalist Christianity rises in the developing world and promises to be the global religion of the future.

What might be alternatives for the relationship of the Christ following faith to its scripture? Is the Bible a divine book? Or is this bibliolatry? Is the Bible only human literature? Or is this blasphemy?


In his book, The Post-American World, Fareed Zakariah argued that The United States is no longer the epicenter of global culture. Where might global culture be going? In another book, The Next One Hundred Years, George Friedman argues that the United States will remain the center of the world for the next 100 years.

Where might current trends of immigration, an aging population, and military prowess be leading us? What might North America look like towards the end of the 21st century and how might that impact what we do today?

How can followers of Christ, regardless of geography, frame a Christ following mission for the next century and beyond? What does 21st century discipleship look like in light of massive cultural changes?

Join Alex McManus, author of Makers of Fire, for IMN 2015 in Orlando, Fl on Feb 2-6.
He will discuss, during the Master Class Certificate sessions, the skills necessary to understand and navigate these kinds of rapid cultural changes through the analogy of Making Fire.

IMN 2015

Strategic Leadership (February 3-5)
Human Capacity Mentor (February 3-5)
Master Class Cultural Architect Certificate (February 2-6)


Social Media on Your Walls

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Immersive, three dimensional, virtual reality comes to social networks and into your home.

My son, Lucas, and I got the chance to try Oculus Rift — a headset that immerses you into a 3-dimensional virtual space — before it hit the market. Besides feeling a bit of motion sickness, I had the feeling I had seen the future. Now things have gone to the next level.

Here’s a short video that demonstrates how oculus rift can make your entire room a virtual reality space.

Remember the fictional holodeck, the virtual reality space on the Starship Enterprise? Well once again, science fiction takes a step closer to reality. Oculus Rift has obvious benefits for gamers but, since we’re comparing reality to science fiction, prepare for the powers of the dark side, the inhumane porn industry , to lead the way.

What impressed me the most is the nonchalant way the writers of these pieces talk about the porn industry as if it were just a normal (acceptable?) part of society.

It would be so easy to get excited about this new technology if it didn’t portend a future of young men lost in a dehumanizing world of virtual sex. The battle for the future minds, wills, and lives of the young is further endangered by a society that is the 21st century blossoming of the 1960’s “me generation” with its progressive dogmas characterized by the proverbs, “who are you to judge others?” and “if it feels good do it.”

There will always be those who earn their living by exploiting the vices of others. But we are now living in a culture without virtue, a culture that speaks of those who prey on the weaknesses of the young and the vulnerable as if they’re just nice guys in the neighborhood. Culture is becoming partner to the predators. As a balancing factor, not everyone is convinced that 3-D VR will be successful. But eventually VR will be a part of the human experience.

“If you think you’re impressed now, just wait till the boys over at PornHub get ahold of this technology.”


What is MAKERS OF FIRE about?

Makers of Fire provokes readers to ignite change through their own creativity by using the analogy of Making Fire.

In order for fire to happen, three ingredients must be present:

  • fuel
  • oxygen
  • heat

In order to create a “burning event,” we must be

  • (1) fully present in the moment

Exponential change characterizes our world. Being fully present  includes developing an awareness of the “weak signals” of change that are all around us as well as the events and trends that are shaping our present world. This is the Fuel.

  • (2) shapers of meaning

People are shaped by stories. Shaping meaning means telling the story of the human journey in ways that capture the 21st century imagination.  We must engaged and expand our ability to think about the future. This is Oxygen.

  • (3) step into the fray

Creating the future doesn’t begin with a plan. It begins with a dream. But dreams must become acts through which we step between the Fuel of culture and the Oxygen of meaning and ignite a spark of change. This is Heat.

When you bring these three ingredients together, you become a Maker of Fire.

The book is divided in three sections: Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat.

Fuel turns its attention on our rapidly changing 21st century culture. It touches on the trends and events that are shaping our world. But not for the purpose of trend spotting or forecasting. Instead, Fuel focuses on our orientation towards futurity and towards our ever changing present moment.

Oxygen focuses on a timeless element of the human heart: our search for meaning. This second section explores the ways both theists and atheists, mystics and materialists, are tied together in a search for meaning in life. This is the human religion.

Heat gets practical. This is where dreams become deeds, genies come out of bottles, the imagined materializes into the experienced. This is where you apply your genius, creativity, and initiative to the Fuel of culture that settles like tinder at our feet and the Oxygen of meanings that swirl around us all. This is where you become a maker of fire.

The book is about the spirituality of leading from the future, a much needed corrective for those focused on the past and much desired perspective for those trying to be more engaged with the present.

The book is now available on amazon in both print and digital formats.

The Universes and The Earths

TOPIC:  Earth meet your cousin, Keplar-186f.

FINDING:  Finally, using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet, Keplar-186f, in the Golidlocks zone, the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

IMPLICATIONS:  For some, like Adrienne LeFrance of The Atlantic who writes in her article, This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First Cousin, “Today we know that Earth is special. What we don’t know is how long we’ll be able to say that.”

For others, like myself who not only expect to find innumerable earth-sized planets but also signs of life, the discovery does not make the earth any more or less special. What it does do is continue to open the doors of possibility. This discovery takes us another baby step closer to the possibility of other life in the universe. Imagine, a cosmos with multiple stories of its genesis. God, I love this universe.

When God began creating the Universes and the Earths….


“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”



The Atlantic

Pastoral Training in the 21st Century

Today, I have four tasty morsels (with a little commentary) for you…

Alex McManus Founder, M Futures Network
Alex McManus
Founder, M Futures Network

(1) What were we saying about 21st century ministry and mission in the late 80s and early 90s?

(2) What are “Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to be Trained for the 21st Century”?

(3) What was I teaching about mission to western culture 5 years ago?

(4) Where can faith leaders learn to think about the future and about engaging culture today?


As I was organizing my files, I stumbled upon a workshop I led in the early 90’s called, The Church in the 21st Century. It was interesting to revisit what I was thinking about 21st century mission and ministry more than 20 years ago. Here’s the “listening sheet”.

click to enlarge

The Church in the 21st Century circa 1992Click to enlarge

Honestly, even when I presented this in the early 90s I thought it was more about the (then) present than the future. But I think I could have written this list today and it would still sound future-oriented to many.


Because I regularly scan for items with “future” or “21st century” in the text, I caught a recent post by Thom Rainer, the current CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, called “Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to be Trained for the 21st Century“.

Rainer’s first point that 21st century Pastors need to learn the language of social media is spot on. (I will post an article on “Thinking In Story” and on “Thinking Social” later this month.) What’s most interesting is that this list of “ten things” could have been presented 20 years ago. (With the exception of the first point about social media).

What does this tell us about pastoral training? Perhaps it tells us that Pastoral training is going to be more or less the same throughout the ages. Or, perhaps it tells us that our pastoral training systems still lag behind.

Either way, I think it’s important to help bring pastoral training into the 21st century and I think this article points in the same direction. Personally, I am a lover of history. I also affirm that context and tradition are important for understanding how the ancient Christ-following faith evolved into our modern 21st century expressions. Still, we need to see more of these kinds of articles that require us to think about the future.


Four years ago I taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Bethel Seminary titled, Footnotes for the Human Journey: Mission in the post-Christian and trans-human Century.  To Bethel’s credit, while many others were still offering courses on “mission in a postmodern context” or on “mission and the emerging church”, Bethel was an environment that allowed taking things further. Even though this course is fairly recent (five years ago), I have updated many, many things about it today.

Here’s the course description and objectives as it was then (2010)…

Course Description
This course is designed to help you explore the new wild, wild west of western culture. In a similar way that the terms “postmodern” and “postchristian” became code words for the cutting edge of mission in the 1990s, “post human” and “trans-human” will become the
code words for forward thinking mission in the second decade of the 21st century.

It’s time to move beyond “mere Christianity” –what does it mean to be a Christian?– and spark a discussion about “mere humanity” — what does it mean to be human?

This is a course designed to stretch your imagination, orient you towards the future, and increase your sense of wonder and humor.

Course Objectives
The participant in this course will be able to…
1. Discuss the meaning of the gospel to an increasingly “post-Christian” and “post-human” culture
2. Assert the gospel confidently in a pluralistic context
3. Discuss the future meaningfully
4. Explain the “GPS” and trajectories of the Christ following movement
5. Construct a personal definition and theology of what a more human future looks like
6. Help others reconnect to God through their own humanity

(4) The International Mentoring Network

I hope that seeing these three perspectives on “pastoral training” in the 21st century has your brain spinning and your imagination going about “what’s next?”.

And, because there are so few places and opportunities for faith leaders to think about the future (in ways that don’t include “Left Behind” kinds of faith fictions), I’ll take this opportunity to make a shameless plug for the M Futures network (aka, the International Mentoring Network). The M network is a community of futurists, creatives, and entrepreneurs. We offer unique experiences to help faith leaders think about the future. To get a feel for the culture of M, check out the main site.

Welcome to the future. You belong here.

Rejection of Physical Contact

TOPIC Human SexualityJapanese man and woman lean away from each other


FINDING: The next generation of Japanese are less interested in sex

Why are fewer Japanese young people interested in sex? Not only are fewer Japanese interested in sex, a growing number seem to be disgusted by human contact. We’ve known about dropping birth rates for a while. Is this a foreshadow of things to come? See my article, Two Mysterious Human Behaviors, for my ideas on this. Here’s the link:


A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. More than a quarter of men felt the same way.


Thanks for sharing this find: Click to Tweet Is the disgust with physical contact experienced by young Japanese, a weak signal of futures to come? Or nothing at all?

Extreme DIY: evolution, biohacking, and body modification

Body modification as performed by biohackers who desire to be cyborgs.

TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts
What happens when you combine the skills of a computer hacker, the pioneering mentality of body modifiers, and the desire to become a cyborg and live forever? Whatever you call it — bizarre, stupid, avant-garde, the future — It’s happening in basements, garages, and hotel rooms right now. You just cannot make this stuff up. Above ground, biotech is a respectable domain of study and biolabs are socially acceptable spaces. Check out for example the TED talk referenced below. But, then ask yourself, Is Ellen Jorgensen’s TED talk naive and overly optimistic or pragmatic and reasonable? Watch the other videos, employ your own knowledge of human nature, and draw your own plausible scenarios of potential futures.

The next tech-savvy generations may drive the DIY evolution revolution from the underground as they push the boundaries of what is “normal” and socially “acceptable”. The socially acceptable boundaries of what one can do to one’s own body may become increasingly blurred. What began with the bizarre practices of tattooing and piercing (which are now perceived by some as “normal”) will continue down a painful path towards an unimaginable end. (Please see the video referenced below about the man who drilled holes in his head in order to don a metal mohawk as an example of how far some are willing to go). A counter-trend of those totally “unscarred” may emerge as a counter point. The assumed right of Governments and corporations to own information and eventually even the human body may be challenged by rogue biohackers. Yes, there will amazing possibilities for personal biotech as well but this “spot” is about the current underground.


In the future, hackers’ and activists’ disputes with restrictive governments may not only be about communication, information, and digital infrastructure, but may also shift into debates about our own technologically-improved physical beings. In the face of companies and governmental agencies developing implants that are protected by patents and secret test procedures, the question of how to remain in control of our bodies may turn out to be a very real pressing social issue…

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What If… Africa Banned Islam?

Conflicting Stories About an African Country Banning Islam
FINDING: There’s a bit of an uproar and skepticism around a story that the sub Saharan country of Angola may ban — or at least not legalize — Islam.

IMPLICATIONS: We’ll have to wait and see what facts emerge and even then, given how public opinion causes officials to give a “new spin” to actions taken and things said, we may never know the intentions behind comments allegedly made by public officials from Angola. But what if some African country banned Islam? Would that country make itself a target for the more radical elements within Islam? Or, would it become a safe haven for those who favor greater connection to the west? Might this political posture spread to other nations? Or, would it vilify the nation that assumes this posture?

It is interesting to note that some westerners may make more “noise” about an African country banning Islam than they would about an African country banning Christianity. One  implication might be the loss of the unifying factor a religion can bring.  In order to progress, Africa may need a strictly religious phase to bring tribes together around one banner and to help eradicate the superstitions and behaviors that allow an epidemic like AIDS to spread. But which religion can best accomplish this? Islam, Christianity, Western Secularism, Buddhism, or some other religion with the capacities to transform behavior and bring tribes and people together under one umbrella?

It is difficult at this point to determine which quotes may be accurate. Having said that, here’s an alleged statement from the minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz: “The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Their mosques would be closed until further notice.”

International Business Times
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
La Nouvelle Tribune
On Islam
Click here to tweet this spot.


Robot Magic

 TOPIC: Self-Assembling Robot

TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts

FINDING: Small cube shaped robots — called M blocks — that can assemble themselves will get smaller and may become autonomous


Imagine coming home and entering an apparently empty room. You walk to the window and begin to sit down.  Tiny robots immediately begin to assemble themselves into a chair the rises to meet you as you sit.

It will seem like magic,  but it’s just 21st century technology at work.  The applications for this kind of technology are immense. Imagine an earthquake damaged building or a bridge about to collapse. Call in the swarm of M blocks and watch them solve how to support the structures and spare human life.

Could we also see swarms of insect like things taking over the planet?  Come on. That couldn’t happen.

Welcome to the future.


“In the future we envision … the modules …completely autonomously, in a distributed fashion, deciding how, when, and where to move… so we want to take a large group of cubes and tell them, “form this shape” …and have the cubes decide on their own how to accomplish that task.”


MIT News Office

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Born or Made?

entrepreneurruns Are leaders born or made? Are disciples born or made? Are entrepreneurs born or made? Regardless of your industry, you’ve probably wondered about this question.

My thoughts below were inspired by  the article,  Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Part of the difficulty we have answering this question is the mystique that surrounds the word “entrepreneur”.

“An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so. It’s first known usage, by economist Richard Cantillon, was in 1723. Today, an entrepreneur is defined as someone having the qualities of leadership and, additionally, is an innovator of ideas regarding manufacturing, delivery, or service needs (or any combination of these).”  Wikipedia

In other words, an entrepreneur is a business person. So, let’s ask this question, “Are business people born or made?”

Somehow this seems less controversial.  Sure, some people may naturally prefer  the structure of working for someone else while others may prefer the freedom of working for themselves. But, when we substitute “entrepreneur” with “business person” the mystique diminishes.

I began to wonder how many small businesses there are in the United States and visited the Small Business Administration site and discovered that …

  • The 23 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
  • The 600,000 plus franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales and provide jobs for some 8 million people.
  • The small business sector in America occupies 30-50% of all commercial space, an estimated 20-34 billion square feet.

“Furthermore,” the SBA website added, “the small business sector is growing rapidly. While corporate America has been “downsizing”, the rate of small business “start-ups” has grown, and the rate for small business failures has declined.”

  • The number of small businesses in the United States has increased 49% since 1982.
  • Since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million new jobs.

Whether entrepreneurs are born or made,  their importance in economic development seems pretty clear.  To those of us who work with leadership development and entrepreneurship,  the question,  “are business people (aka entrepreneurs) born or made?”,  is similar to the question,  “Are leaders born or made?”  My own take is that “history” (i.e. the social conditions that exist) gives rise to leaders.  So an important part of our task  is to develop people of character because we never know who “history” will tap on the shoulder.  And, as the SBA website suggests, when it comes to starting or running a small business, many people will get “tapped”.


Recent research seems to indicate that there are genetic traits that may give some an advantage in leadership and entrepreneurship.  That’s not really news.  We all know “the type” that sells, gets things done, perseveres, and takes risk.  But we also know that environment and opportunity and human choice are also important elements in who can start or run a business.

Next time you drive down the road count the number of small local businesses you see.  You’ll count hundreds,  if not thousands,  of stores and shops of all kinds.  If you’re in a city you may even see street vendors — signs of the informal market economy–  around you.  Ask yourself,  were the people who started these business born or made to start them?

There is a spectrum between pure nature,  nurture,  and pure human choice.  Not every businessperson is an extreme risk taker – a genetic freak of nature. They are usually your ordinary human who finds a need and fills it in such a way that makes them and their customers happier than the alternatives.

What do you think?