Catalyst 2009 – Labs

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Take Action!Thanks to a wonderful church family who believe in supporting their pastors in growing as leaders I was able to attend Catalyst 2009 (link takes you to Catalyst Backstage – a great way to follow what’s happening) this year.  I am so grateful – thanks friends!

Today was the day for the “Labs” sessions here at Catalyst.   They are called that because they are more concentrated sessions offered from a wide variety of speakers that you can choose from.   My mind was expanded today and my heart was stretched and I was inspired!  It was amazing.

I took tons of notes but here’s some takeaways that I want to highlight here (by the way, I was really hoping to post during the day but had little success in obtaining wireless access – dang company supplying access to the arena won’t take any of my credit cards {shrug}):

Perry Noble:

Perry was Perry.  I’ve never had a chance to hear him speak in person but let’s just say he has a way of saying things that dive through the veneer of superficiality and into your heart.  Perry spoke on “Four Convictions about Vision” and grabbed it from Acts 26.  Incidentally, I so appreciate Perry because while what everyone else said was good – Perry was the only one who you really got a sense started from the Bible and wrapped his message around it.  A great way to start the day.  Here’s some points:

  • When God calls you the steps He asks you to take on the journey aren’t easy.
  • Leadership continually takes us to uncomfortable places.
  • “Some people in the South don’t know the war’s over”
  • God has a sense of humor
  • God: “You got to be willing to let me take you into places that are incredibly uncomfortable”

Vision begins with an accurate view of Jesus

  • Before God gives us the plan we’ve got to buy into the person of Jesus
  • The church doesn’t have a resource problem the church has a Jesus problem – they don’t have an accurate view of who Jesus is!
  • We’re supposed to tell people who Jesus is not who we are!
  • Our job isn’t a social agenda
  • “I’m glad you want to save the earth but God is going to destroy it one day!”
  • Perry: “Our church does recycle”

Vision calls us to Action

  • When the alarm goes off its to propel us to action.
  • Is God setting off the alarm?  What am I doing about it?
  • Acts 26:16 – God is calling the church to action
  • Stop saying, “I’m just waiting on God” How arrogant?
  • God already made the first move 2000 years ago – God is waiting on us!  Challenging us to take action.
  • Are you using prayer as an excuse to procrastinate?
  • Jump!
  • Most of us know the change that we need to make but we’re to scared to make it.
  • What action has God called you to make
  • People leaving isn’t always a bad thing.
  • The church is called a body (so why are we so consumed with closing the back door…!) // You had to hear this point in person, take a minute to think about what Perry is saying here (the audience got it as soon as Perry mentioned the church is a body…)
  • Part of the cost of leadership is losing people.

Vision will impact me personally

  • Leaders must be willing to pay the price of pain in order to achieve.
  • God gives you vision in direct proportion to the pain you’re willing to endure.
  • Pain -> Resurrection -> Gain (What Jesus went through!)
  • “I appeared to you to appoint you as a servant…”
  • Two ways in which vision will impact you personally… 1.  I see it and 2. I feel it.
  • We don’t do everything, we do something.  He’ll reveal the vision.
  • Are we more into attendance than repentance?
  • If you pursue Jesus there are people who will hate you, blog about you and generally make life miserable for you.
  • Vision is going to cost you personally.

Vision will lead to Victory

  • Three things Perry doesn’t like (well he used a stronger term…): snakes, spiders and cats.
  • Acts 26:18
  • Stop talking about all that you don’t have and remember that you have the Holy Spirit and all that God has available to those who will go to reach people.
  • Stop using Noah as an excuse to stop evangelizing and reaching people for Jesus.
  • If God gives you a vision it will produce fruit.
  • God called the church to impact the world!!
  • Worship passionately, preach Jesus unapologetically, call people to repentance. The “formula” for Newspring’s success (Perry)

Reggie Joiner

Reggie spent most of his session focusing on on how the church needs to shift it’s thinking in the way we approach the family.   He emphasized the reality that it is family that influences us more than church.   He talked about how too often the church presents the image of what a perfect family looks like and presents that to the families.  The problem is that there are so many families that have situations and circumstances that are so far removed from that “picture” that they get discouraged and disillusioned and will never experience the relationship God wants to have with them in the midst of their families!

Reggie made the interesting point that God really never gives us a picture of an ideal family in scripture.   When you think about it, it’s true isn’t it?  In fact, you look at all the heroes of the Bible and you can’t find one of those heroes with a family life that God holds up as the ideal!

Reggie also blew me away with this statement, “Your calling as a leader should not be to get families to conform to a common picture. Your calling is not be build better families, or better church.  Your calling is to engage individuals, generation, into a relationship with the living God.”  Wow!  What a challenge!  And reminder.   He said, “Parents don’t need a better picture, they need a bigger story” and the story is the restoration and redemption God wants to do in and through parents in they’re own family.   Reggie said, “Never buy into the myth that you need to become the “right” kind of parent before God can use you in your children’s lives”

Another powerful statement that Reggie made was, “God doesn’t use perfect pictures, He uses broken people. God uses authentic, broken people in their stories and their messages. They are real.”  This led into one of the branding moments for me so far at Catalyst, it’s a phrase that I needed to hear and every ministry really needs to hear, “If I knew you the way you knew you, I would probably disqualify you from ministry – and vice versa – but GOD uses you”  How true!  That doesn’t mean that we become satisfied with the failures and cracks in our person but it does mean we don’t get stuck there!  God qualifies us based on our relationship to Him and our salvation in His Son.  The greatest work of God is what He does in and through broken people.

The rest of the day…

I attended a few other sessions and heard some great stuff but unfortunately my tinnitus started acting up and I struggled to concentrate.  Pray for me.  Those of you who know me well know I struggle from a ringing of the ears that is always there but sometimes gets louder.  When it gets louder, it hurts and it turns my thinking to mush.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

…because of vision

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Why? An Important Question

This is the final post in the series “Why? An Important Question”

In the last post we looked at the first good answer for the question why? …because there’s purpose.  However, another good way to answer that question is because of vision.

Purpose deals with the task at hand, vision is seeing the whole picture.  When you answer the “why” with purpose you are articulating what you want to accomplish immediately.  Vision produces purpose.  When you answer the “why” with vision, you are articulating what you are aiming for – what you are doing may not even seem to be connected but for the person with vision it is.

As I write this a classic scene comes to mind from the movie Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) has told Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) that he will teach him karate.   However, Daniel is given a series of seemingly meaningless tasks which includes among them the famous “wax on, wax off” line as Miyagi has Daniel wax his car.   To Daniel, the answer to “why?” he’s doing this seems meaningless, but Mr. Miyagi sees the whole picture and knows that in order to teach Daniel karate he has to teach him patience and good form.  So to Mr. Miyagi, why “wax on, wax off” is answered by vision.

Proverbs 29:18 says,

Where there is no vision, the people perish… (KJV)

People perish without vision because they aren’t able to answer, why?

…because there’s purpose

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Why? An Important Question

In the last two posts in this series we’ve looked at some not-so-good ways to answer the question WHY you are doing something or making a particular choice.  For the next two posts I’m just going to quickly look at a couple good ways to answer this question.

The first is probably fairly obvious.  You should be able to answer the question WHY with a clear defined (and as simple as possible) purpose.  Not because it’s the way it’s always been done, or not because so-and-so is doing it but because in doing so I’m accomplishing or fulfilling a particular purpose.  Here’s the thing,  everything is done for a purpose but more is accomplished when you can articulate it.

Not only that, but when you can articulate the purpose that answers WHY – then when you complete what you are doing or carry through on your decision there’s a greater sense of fulfillment because what you did or decided had purpose.

I remember when I was a young boy and my parents made me practice the piano.  I hated it.  I like playing the piano, I just hated doing scales and all that  “practice music”.  My answer for why I practiced was because my parents made me –  in my eyes there was no purpose.  My parents did everything they could to show me that there was purpose to the grind – the practice would enable me to play better and eventually play music that was incredible.  Eventually I was able to understand and articulate that purpose for myself – and when I did, practicing the piano became much more fulfilling.  There was purpose for the practice all along – I just hadn’t articulated (or understood) it yet.

I wonder how many people can give a purpose for WHY they are doing what they do or choosing how they choose?

…because “so-and-so” is doing it.

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Why? An Important Question

The first “bad” answer to the question, “Why are you doing what your doing OR why did you make that choice OR why are you going to do what you are doing?” was “because that’s the way it’s always been done”.  The next is:

…because “so-and-so” is doing it (or does it that way).

And you can fill “so-and-so” with whatever fits be it a person or organization.  The problem with this answer is just because so-and-so does it that way doesn’t mean it’ll work for you in your situation.  Here’s some reasons why:

  • so-and-so is usually always in a different context than you.  What may work in their context may not work in your context.
  • so-and-so who was successful had a reason why they were successful because they answered the “Why?” question rightly. Trying to shortcut the process by copying will leave you hanging when so-and-so fails (if what they did just happens to work in your context)
  • you (or you’re organization) are not s0-and-so – what works for them may not work for you.

Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t learn from so-and-so!  Just make sure that isn’t the reason WHY you are doing what you are doing (or making the choice you’re making).  If that’s you’re reason then really you’re just shifting the question – now you have to ask, “Why is so-and-so doing it that way?”

…because it’s the way it’s always been done.

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Why? An Important Question

Whenever you set out to do something or make a life choice if you’re like most people you have a reason for what you are doing or the choice you’re making.  A reason that answers the question, “why?”

Even if you don’t have an obvious reason for what you do or a choice you make, there’s still a reason.

How we answer that question is important. For example:

Some bad answers to, “why”?

“…because it’s the way it’s always been done”

In a few cases, you can maybe get a way with this answer if the way it’s always been done is good and successful.  But eventually the way it’s always been done becomes a hindrance to actually getting things done or moving forward.  Remember, “the way it’s always been done” is a method not a value or message.

A method answers the question, “how?”  How you do something does not describe why you’re doing it.  There are many different ways of selling a product.  There are many different ways of driving a car.  There are multiple ways of wooing someone.  There are different methods of sharing about what you believe.  HOWEVER, all these methods don’t describe the value you are choosing or the message you’re communicating.  One caveat.  Methods are often influenced by the value or the message (in other words choosing to share about Jesus with people while pole-dancing really isn’t the best method for sharing the gospel of Christ…) and methods may demonstrate a value or message but in of itself the method doesn’t answer, “why?”

So,  “…the way it’s always been done” is a bad answer for why you do something or make a certain choice.   What you’re really doing is defaulting.  When you default  then usually it means you really don’t know the answer to why? If I get this answer from people my next question would be, “Why are you doing it because it’s the way it’s always been done or why are you choosing that because that’s what always been chosen?”

(we’ll continue this series with the next post exploring another bad answer… “because ‘so-and-so’ is doing it” – The “Why?” picture was taken by “annnna“)

Keeping Momentum

Momentum is a tricky thing.  It can be positive or negative.  Positive momentum is movement forward in the right direction, negative momentum is moving in the wrong direction.  Positive momentum leads to growth, negative momentum leads to death.  The more momentum there is the quicker either will happen.

Every organization has momentum – I really don’t believe there is any such thing as the “status quo”.  When you are maintaining the “status quo” all you’re really doing is slowing negative momentum.  Here’s the thing – negative momentum happens when you do nothing.  Positive momentum takes a lot of energy to get going and a constant addition of energy to keep it going.  The key to keeping positive momentum is to focus your energy on the right things:

  • Identify the momentum killers in your organization and deal with them. Quickly.  The sooner you do so, the longer the positive momentum will continue and the less energy you’ll expend to keep it going.  This requires the ability to see down the road and anticipate the things that might slow your positive momentum.
  • Identify the momentum builders and release them.  Ask the question, “What is keeping my momentum builders from building?”
  • Don’t get caught in the trap of “maintaining” the momentum.  That is the biggest killer of positive momentum.
  • Do “maximize” the momentum – what is the momentum enabling you to do?  If it enables something that builds on where the momentum has brought you then go for it.