I’m trying to write all these notes down while the memories are fresh. Here’s my recap of the final day, as well as my final overall thoughts.
1) The final morning was quite extraordinary – From Priscilla Shirer who was preachin’ it to Dave Ramsey who outlined a formula for momentum, the morning speakers were riveting and energetic. I must confess, I wasn’t there for Shirer’s entire session, but even being there at the end, I could sense an easy synergy between her and the crowd. The same is true for Ramsey. I appreciated their exhortations toward faith and perseverance.
Later in the morning, a series of moving experiences occurred, ranging from a compassion international reunion, an exhortation toward orphans and adoption, and an honoring of Chuck Swindoll. It was all really well done and meaningful.
Then, Chuck Swindoll brought it home with an outstanding sermon on lessons that he’s learned over 50 years of vocational ministry. You can look up notes of the talk (and every talk for that matter), here. Either way, I most appreciated Chuck sharing so honestly and candidly about some of the difficulties that come with being a pastor, as well as testifying to how faithful God has been through different seasons.
2) We missed the afternoon session, but we had lunch with Doug Slaybaugh and then visited Northpoint Community Church courtesy of Chris Kim – Lunch was great with Doug, and it was a debriefing of sorts in that we had an opportunity to share many thoughts and questions that had arisen over the course of the past three days. It felt like home having Doug there.
We went over to Northpoint, and Chris, who works on staff at NP, was a gracious host.
After visiting their campus, all I have to say is, WOW. It seems like they’ve really created a great space for people to connect to their community. I was very impressed and thankful for their church. And Chris was a great host, and shared many of the processes quite well. I think we have a lot to learn from NP.
3) The last session with Andy Stanley was great – Stanley strikes me as similar to Bill Hybels – a great leader and teacher. He peppered in a lot of information about expectations and experiences, and it seemed like a talk that would jive well with Emotional Health.
We ended by traveling to Ann’s looking for the Ghetto Burger, but we ended up not eating there bc there wasn’t enough room and we had to bounce to the airport. It felt like we were in East New York, a fact that Rich pointed out vigorously.
Final Thoughts on Catalyst
1. There are some tensions that Catalyst (and any large conference, I’m guessing) creates. I don’t think these are intentional tensions, I simply think of these as observations.
– I heard encouragement to be focus on whatever God’s called me uniquely to (e.g. Rob Bell, Dave Ramsey, etc), but it was really hard to concentrate on what that was because there must have been over 100 booths to visit too, many of which detailed exceptional opportunities. This created some tension for me, which is why I needed some alone time, too.
– I heard that I should take risks with my life and do something extraordinary – however, I wrestled with what’s extraordinary. It’s easy for me to be tempted to try and grow a large church or ministry, or b) publish a book because that’s what the speakers have done. And because these speakers are people I greatly admire, I struggle with attempting to do the things God wants me to do instead of what I’m tempted to attempt because of my own fascination with wanting to become “known” in an ungodly way.
I can’t think of any more tensions right now, but these are some of the ones I wrestled with while I was at Catalyst. Please add some more if you can think of some. Obviously, I’m coming from a particular lens, which is different than the other attenders.
2) Social Justice is not going away – The gospel is becoming more whole, and that’s a good thing. Catalyst seems to be leading the way in this regard, and that is very, very cool.
3) Talks on Family Health and Inner Life stuff are rare – We’re a pretty driven culture, and aside from Rob and Chuck Swindoll’s talk, I didn’t hear much about marriages, families, and one’s inner life. I suppose people see this as a given, but I think I need to hear about resting more often so I can minister out of a more replenished soul.
4) Northpoint is a lot like Willow – They’re leading the way in some really cool stuff, including their family stuff, small groups, and general leadership stuff. We have lots to learn from them.
5) Catalyst produces landmark moments – Most of the sessions are inspiring and thoughtful- not necessarily practical and action oriented (the labs were more like that).
With that said, sometimes it’s important to simply have a jolt, a landmark moment if you will, to energize people for the rest of the year. I believe these landmarks are just as momentous as conferences where the to-do list might be overwhelming.
6) There’s very little time to network or make connections with people – Because there’s no small group format, there’s very little interaction over a specific talk, unless you come with a large group of people or you are an extremely motivated extrovert looking to make connections. This might contribute to the difficulty in formulating an action plan. I wish I could have come with others from NLF.
7) I love our church – I’m really lucky to be at New Life Fellowship.
8) Faithfulness trumps gifting any day – I heard this over and over, and it was a great reminder.
9) The Catalyst Team creates an incredible experience – Ultimately, I’m glad I went. Thank you, Catalyst.
Please feel free to add any thoughts if you were there. And if you have any questions about it, please let me know!