Have You Morphed?

by Terry Wilhite

Ron Martoia's book, Morph! The Texture of Leadership for Tomorrow's Church (2003, Group Publishing) is one of the best leadership and communications books that I read last year. I discovered this pastor at John Maxwell's Catalyst Conference in Atlanta in October of last year. Martoia was the first speaker of the second day of this event which attracted more than 5,000 young leaders from all across the country.
Before I tell about Martoia and his book, I first have to tell you that I could not believe how trashed the new, beautiful Gwinette Center Arena in North Atlanta was on the second day of the event, much unlike the first day when the facilities were spic and span. I had to step over a mound of wadded-up newspapers before I could enter the arena. Once inside, the audio-visuals were obnoxious, too. Flashes of video news clips with heinous, pulsating music. It was very nerve-wracking, certainly no stage setter for a day of learning and worship.
Terrible multimedia production team? "AWOL" clean-up crew? No. Ron Martoia at work. He eloquently had made his point before he spoke a single word that day, his message being: We are bombarded by thousands of images and zillions of messages each day, much of it garbage. "The key to successful leadership is a quiet center," he later told his listeners. His challenge: "Go off-line' and connect with God. Re-establish a quiet center."
In an on-line world of laptop computers, Palm Pilots, cell phones and pagers, the message hit home personally, and I could tell it did for many others as well. Then, with the help of Martoia's digitally-created art on projection screens, shown with soothing, ethereal music, he offered an opportunity to "go off-line" and commune with God. In fact, attendees shared communion, as the images and music played. What Catalyst participants experienced that morning was a taste of what worshipers at Westwinds Church get every week.
Ron Martoia, who pastors the church, is one of the most successful young culturally-relevant leaders in America and there's a good reason for it. He has morphed! What in the world does "morph" mean? "Morphing at its most fundamental level is allowing God's word to move around inside of us long enough for some of it to rub off on our behavior," Martoia writes.
(Those of us from the older school call it transformation.) Martoia is hitting the bull's eye of cultural relevancy at his church. His new book is designed to help you do the same.
"For most people, there is a major disconnection between their day-to-day lives and the fifty-year time warp they enter when they walk through the front doors of the church," Martoia says. Before a church can morph, its leader must morph, this pastor says. Martoia spends a good percentage of his book giving us good, personal "morphing" ideas.
His concepts aren't really new but he uses a lot of terms unfamiliar to the church. One chapter, for example, is titled, "Soul Ergonomics: Customizing God's Imprint on Our Lives." Soul Ergonomics? "Ergonomics is the study of how customizing our environment can increase our overall wholeness, performance and effectiveness," writes Martoia.
Another chapter is called "Login for L3 (lifelong learning). "Tremendous amounts of information are going in, butno morphing to show for it," he stresses. "If our relationship with God is essentially informational, nonrelational, and not morphic, then how can we pass on anything other than that? This may be the single most difficult issue for the church to overcome," Martoia explains. He does a great job exploring this issue and building a bridge to today's generation that generally cares little about the gospel.
His book is anything but shallow in its approach, and his motives are sincere. "Our change in philosophy of ministry was necessary for only one reason: Lost people weren't being found." His good Bible-based theology doesn't waver and the questions he asks are right on target What do I think about the book? While already morphing, I bought our entire church staff copies. I not only recommend Martoia's book, but you should also check out this year's Catalyst Conference. See www.injoy.com for more information.
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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