Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sally Morganthaler

Several months back, my brother told me that his church was going to have Sally Morganthaler as their guest for their parrish retreat. I was very impressed and told him so. A couple of weeks later, he told me he had a crazy idea and wondered if we would want to join them at the retreat. The timing was good as the retreat was at the end of September and our new nephew was due in late August. We took them up on the invitation to hear Sally and to see our new nephew, Teddy.

For those who don't know, Sally Morganthaler is one of the leaders in the Emergent movement, an author, a worship leader and speaker. I have read some of her stuff, but had never heard her speak. There's a lot to share from the visit to Pittsburgh, which I will do, but wanted to start with some of the thoughts I scratched down from Sally's talks.

I should start with the church. Jeff and Paige attend Church of the Ascension, an Episcopal Parrish in Pittsburgh. About 400 people attend and it's an urban church. About 85% of those who attend don't live in the immediate neighborhood, but travel anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes to get there.

Sally's primary point in her talks was that top down systems don't get the job done, particularly in emergency situations. She encouraged us to think of the huge numbers of lost people that we know personally as an emergency, an urgent situation. I guess I should say right here, that I don't think I heard anything earth shattering this weekend. It wasn't necessarily anything new, but she does a good job of telling the story, saying known things in interesting ways. What she wanted most for the congregation to grab hold of is the fact that they shouldn't wait until there's a program or a set direction from the Priest or the church leaders to go out and do something about the emergency situation that the lost all around us find themselves in. Salt and light in the area where you are, not even worrying particularly about how close that is to the church building. She encouraged people not to get hung up on the fact that they might live in one section of the city or the suburbs and commute to church. So what. Wherever you live, work or play, make an impact there.

Here are some quotes from her talks:

Worship (in the near future) will look more like a hand reaching out to touch another hand (than a hand raised or a given type of music)

The default in the Church is so much organization that you can't get anything done.

A lot of churches are like JC Penny. It's all inside. Congregations are consumers of ministry products, with a very centralized ministry.

Jesus didn't spend a whole lot of time in the Temple.

She referred several times to this quote from William James: "I am done with big things and great things, and I am for those tiny, invisible, molecular forces that creep from individual to individual like so many rootlets, or like the capillary action of water, yet which, if you give them time, will rend the hardest monument of man's pride."

Dirt calls us.

It's hard to be a leader and it's hard to be led.

A lot of leaders have a problem with people having dreams. They're hard to control.

"No problem can be solved wit hteh same level of thinking that created it." Albert Einstein

So it was a good time. I'll post on the family part of the trip some other time. Just wanted to get some of these thoughts down before they were destined to sit forever on paper in my Bible.