The day started out very promising – Rich and I had a 7 am breakfast meeting with Andy Crouch. Rich had already heard my gushing over the session the day before, so he was already quite annoyed with me (I tend to be unrelenting in talking about things that excite me).
Anyhow, we met Andy at the lobby of the hotel, and we proceeded to head over to the Starbucks inside Krogers. In the car ride alone, we discovered:
– Andy is friends with Greg Jao and they did stand-up comedy one night for grad students.
– Andy comes to NYC regularly, as well as Atlanta.
– We were lucky to spend time with Andy.
For the next hour or so, we discussed so many things, ranging from his talk the day earlier, his book and the insights therein, culture-making as it relates to his family, our families, and our community at new life, the phillies and how they dominate the mets, and so many other tidbits that I’ve been pondering since we left Catalyst.
All this to say, this meeting was easily the highlight of the trip for me. And even though Andy is a Phillies fan, we must get him to share some of his insights at New Life sometime. Word.
Here were some of my general thoughts as the day went on:
1. Catalyst is leadership adrenaline – I petered out by the late afternoon, but yes, I can see why so many 20-somethings are into Catalyst. It’s an explosion of people, performances, platforms, and passion. There are throngs of people, and when you get so many of them together around a common purpose, the energy is really pulsating. Meanwhile, there’s a panoply of activities, booths, and did I mention people? Plus, major props to the emcees. They were HILARIOUS. Do you like all the p’s in this paragraph? I thought it was quite clever.
2. Speakers are from diverse perspectives, which I appreciate – You had Andy Staley, Jessica Jackley, Malcolm Gladwell, Shane Hipps, Rob Bell, Tony Dungy, Matt Chandler, and Francis Chan. All of these folks are from various theological spectra and settings. For instance, Rob Bell uses more zone blitzes than Tony Dungy’s cover 2 scheme.
Okay, that was only funny to 15% of you, but whatever.
But yes, the positive side to all of these different voices is that we can find where they agree and differ, and receive what we discern God wants us to receive and apply.
With all that said, Francis Chan brought us back to communion to end the night, and what an appropriate way to say, this is what we agree on, this is what we believe, and this is the hope of the world. It was an extraordinary time.
3. I was surprised at the lack of minorities in the audience – For some reason, I expected to see a lot more minorities in the audience. I mean, of course I knew that the conference would be predominantly white, but I didn’t realize it would be overwhelmingly so. So yeah, I was puzzled by this (although I appreciate the efforts to diversify the stage).
4. Did I mention this is a really well run event? – The quality of this event is really outstanding. Catalyst crew, thank you for putting on a sensational conference. Thanks for all the hard work.
5. I’m in a good place – I love NYC, and I love New Life Fellowship. There’s no place I’d rather be.
Here are some other highlights from Day Two and the beginning of the larger conference.
– I walked into the arena and my jaw dropped. So Many People. This reminded me of Urbana, which is probably larger in scale, and similar in raw energy.
– Ate at Chik-Fil-A for lunch, and then a Korean food mart for dinner. There was a small Korean plaza in Duluth next to the arena, and my soul came alive when I saw it. The food felt like home too. Doug and Rich were introduced to Mochi ice cream as well. Yes, in Atlanta.
– First time hearing Andy Stanley. He’s a fantastic communicator, with a special gift toward leadership as well. He started us off on the right foot by calling us to re-prioritize why we’re doing what we do.
– Malcolm Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller. He tells stories the same way he writes about them – with suspense, interesting detail, and then a punch at the end. Really cool that he was here, and I needed to hear the encouragement to remain humble.
– Rob Bell is really gifted. He speaks with great ease, passion, and creativity. I appreciated his passion about this topic in particular (Sabbath-keeping, caring for family, and being okay with thinning crowds). I thought he was going to mention Pete Scazzero’s book, but his topic was good to hear nonetheless.
I also loved how he went to bat for the women in leadership issue. That was very cool, although some might disagree.
It saddens me that people give him so much grief about being unorthodox. I think it’s fair to say that for anyone who has heard him speak, he really loves the Bible.
– We had a great conversation with Warren Bird about multi-site churches. It’s always nice to connect with friends of New Life. Plus, he invited us to take some munchies from the Leadership Network suite.
– I missed Tony Dungy and Matt Chandler. I couldn’t keep up. I found a spot in the bowels of the arena, and did a daily office for an hour or so. I needed the opportunity to breathe.
– Francis Chan’s session was moving, intimate, and unplugged. He spoke things that we all really feel, and spoke truth in a simple and poignant way. Plus, he only spoke for 15 minutes or so, and let God do his thing. I guess less really is more. My favorite session.
– It’s fun hanging out with Doug Slaybaugh. I was so grateful to have Doug there. He was so loving in the ways he asked and answered questions, and he probably thought we were stalking him considering how many times we would randomly see him throughout 12,000 people.
– Rich is a great travel buddy. He’s up for adventures, thoughtful, and is super laid back. With that said, I’d trade him for Tina any day. I’m sure he’d say the same about Rosie and Karis. Btw, he kept showing me pictures of Karis, and then I’d miss home somehow too.
And then I’d respond by talking about the Andy Crouch session.