I went to Catalyst Dallas from May 12-15. Here are my top 10 Catalyst moments in no particular order.
1. “Unplugging is the competitive advantage of the digital age.” – Scott Belsky. Belsky is passionate about coaching people to make ideas happen. I use the Action Journal designed by Belsky to help creative unorganized types to be able to follow through with thoughts generated in meetings or brainstorming sessions. Belsky struck me with these words at Catalyst. The ability to turn off distractions and do work is a rare gift in our day and age.
2. “Integration is the time between when the first black person moves in and the last white person moves out.” -Dr. John Perkins. Dr. Perkins is a civil rights leader who has paid the price for his convictions. Now in his 80’s, he has earned the right to sit in a chair and tell us plainly that homogeneity and class boundaries in the local church diminishes the Gospel of Christ and is heresy. If John Perkins says it is heresy, I’m listening.
3. The Russian Bar Trio– Catalyst planners have an amazing ability to give “wow” moments. And sometimes the “wow” makes no sense! Why did we need to see a Russian woman do crazy stunts? It sure won’t be a part of any spiritual growth plan…but it was cool. Behold a segment shot from my iPhone 3GS. You have to turn your computer sideways. Sorry.
4. “When faced with danger, you can get safer or you can get braver. Jesus didn’t come to make you safer; he came to make you braver.” -Gary Haugen. Gary looks like Howie Long and he heads the International Justice Mission, dedicated to bringing peace to the oppressed in the world in the name of Jesus. His speech opened with the question, “When did the disciples figure out following Jesus was dangerous?” Still chewing on the implications here. Another related quote was from Christine Caine. “The goal of life is not to arrive safely at death! Jesus called us to freedom, not safety!”
5. “Never take control. Take responsibility.”– Donald Miller. Miller is frankly a better writer than speaker, but he did well. He used Joseph (OT) as an allegory for learning to lead. Miller’s quote challenges me to realize that leadership is service to God and to others and it is not about my getting my way. This is easier for him to preach than for me to practice.
6. Red Panda, Finger Rockets, snap pops, and Tony Romo-Yeah. More over the top moments. Instead of explaining them all, I just have to tell you that at points I was thinking “I sure hope people at home believe that there was actually church leadership content here as well!”
7. “What stories do you want to tell your grandchildren? What stories do you want your church to tell? Do you want to tell stories of faithfulness or playing it safe?” -Andy Stanley. Stanley got me with this question. This is inspiration and motivation wrapped up together. We have dreams and visions and yet we choose to play it safe and go for the small, sure bets instead of the murkier, riskier and yet more satisfying and faithful options. Eventually, faithful living will take us beyond common sense. In this talk, Stanley talked about 3 particular types of courage that ministry might call for. 1. The courage to stay when everything appears to say, “Go.” 2. The courage to go when everything appears to say, “Stay.” 3. The courage to ask for help when it is easier to pretend you are okay.
8. “The most loving thing God has ever done for me besides saving me is wounding me.” -Matt Chandler. Matt is a popular preacher in the Metroplex who was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain. The past year has run the gambit of treatments. Matt’s talk at Catalyst was a review of substitutionary atonement theology. It was addressing Matt’s concern that church leaders are so attractional that sometimes the Gospel is not communicated. In the midst of Chandler’s romp through the New Testament, he spoke this one sentence which was a profound way of describing his experience of his illness and the working of God through it all.
9. “There is nothing sadder than a 50 year old fat man in skinny jeans. Be yourself. Authenticity trumps cool everytime.”– Craig Groeschel. Craig is the senior pastor of LifeChurch. He is an impressive communicator and I loved his topic. He talked about the challenges of older and younger generations in the church. The older generation needs to give responsibility, not just assign tasks, to the younger generation. Also they need to communicate that they believe in the younger generation. The challenge for the younger generation is to give respect and honor to the older generation and to wait. He made a comment that has stuck with me. “You young leaders overestimate what God will do in the short term and underestimate what God can do in the long term.”
10. “What is on your to-don’t list?” -Andy Stanley. Andy closed out Catalyst with a challenge for leaders to maximize their strength instead of focusing on improving weaknesses. It is true that we have a culture that pushes us to focus on our shortcomings instead of releasing us to do what we are uniquely gifted to do. This session has challenged me to re-evaluate the way I spend my time and energy and to invest in my giftedness. The challenge with this is being okay that some things are not going to happen the way I want them to, but that opens up the door for people who have that gift to walk in and bring that to a level I would have never been able to do. The truth is that there are people for whom my weaknesses are their strengths. Focusing on strengths and letting go of weaknesses will ultimately benefit the entire organization or congregation. I’m still working through this talk!
A. Scott Harrison from charity:water was amazing. His passion for providing clean water for millions of people is contagious. Here is an example of someone who has reimagined what non-profit ministry can be. Please look into this ministry. http://www.charitywater.org/
B. Chris Seay looking miserable and uncomfortable as host. Chris does not have a cuddly or warm demeanor, so getting him to be MC was unintentionally humorous. I learned that Chris despises Snap Pops more than I thought humanly possible.
What were your big takeaways from Catalyst Dallas? What on this list sparked your imagination?