Catalyst 2009 – Fun Stuff

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

Parachute ManOne of the cool things of my Catalyst Experience was all the “fringe” stuff that went on during the two days of the main event.  Everything from a helicopter dropping parachute men, to a live band at the doors, giveaways, some llamas (did I really see llamas?), a chalk artist outside, break-dancers, kids doing some mj moves, white football mayhem, party poppers, free books, twitter on the bigscreen, lanny donoho on leno experiment, “that’ll leave a mark” video shorts, and of course…

Dr. Splash here

and here

Oh, and how could I forget Dude Perfect.  They are using their platform to do great things! These are a group of college guys who do awesome shots with a basketball – witness below:

Catalyst Day Two wrapup – Andy Stanley

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

The last speaker I want to share about from my Catalyst experience was Andy Stanley.  He was the first speaker for Catalyst and the one that wrapped things up.  Andy talked about cultivating a healthy staff culture.  Why?  Because,

Your church and your church culture should be the healthiest organizational culture in your city.

Here’s what Andy said it takes to creat a healthy staff:

Healthy people are attracted to healthy cultures.

Andy talked about the gap between what we expect of people and what they actually do and that ultimately we choose what goes in those gaps.  His emphasis was on the reality that our choice for those gaps will shape the culture of our organization.  The choices?  Assume the worst or believe the best.   Each of those choices have a powerful affect on the direction of organization culture.

According to Andy, there are two things that make it difficult for us to believe the best,  “What I see” and “Who I am”.  If someone consistently brings poor quality stuff to the table then you will always assume the worst.  Also, what you have experienced in terms of personal hurt or betrayal will influence what you choose for the gap.

The thing is, as Andy puts it, developing a culture of trust is critical to the health and success of your organization. Why?

  • Trust fuels Productivity – (the message of trust: I think you are smart enough to know what to do and how to do it).
  • Trust attracts trustworthy people and quickly surfaces those who AREN’T  (You will never know who you can’t trust until you trust them and you will never know who you can trust until you trust them.  Also, I liked this statement: Trusting is risky. Refusing to trust is riskier!
  • Trust enables an organization to move FASTER

Here’s a quote from Reggie McNeal that Andy shared,

Teams use trust as currency. If it is in short supply, then the team is poor. If trust abounds, the members of the team have purchase power with each other to access each other’s gifts, talents, energy, creativity, and love. The development of trust, then, becomes a significant leadership strategy.

The next point Andy made is that, developing a culture of trust BEGINS with the leader.

  • Trust and suspicion are both telegraphed from the leader throughout an entire department or organization.
  • When you can’t choose to trust, you must choose to confront (concealed suspicion poisons the entire relationship – the moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted *Mahatma Ghandi)  The consequences of confrontation are far less severe than the consequences of concealment.
  • To develop a culture of trust, leaders must be trustworthy.

To bring it all together Andy wrapped up by saying cultivating healthy organizational culture requires five commitments:

1. When there is a gap between what I expected and what I experienced, I will BELIEVE the best.

2. When other people assume the worst about you, I will come to your DEFENSE

3. If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you about it.

4. When I’m convinced I will not be able to deliver on a promise, I will inform you AHEAD of time.

5. When you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I will tell you the truth.

Here’s some questions Andy left us with to help evaluate this in our own organization.  What answers would you give?

1. Are there people in your organization you have a difficult time trusting?

2. Is it your issue or theirs?

3. What can you do about your part?

4. What do you need to address with them about their part?

5. Who do you sense has a difficult time trusting you?

6. Why?

7. What can you do about it?

For another great write up of Andy’s talk see Kent Schaffer’s, “Andy Stanley on Creating a Healthy Work Culture“.  I’m coming close to the end of my notes on Catalyst.  There’s one more post I’ll be writing up on some of the fun stuff I saw at Catalyst.  Stay tuned!

Catalyst Day Two – Chuck Swindoll

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

At Catalyst, Chuck Swindoll received the lifetime achievement award and was well recognized by the nearly 13,000 people in attendance.  It was a treat to get to hear what this Godly man had to share.   First up, he shared the TOP TEN LEADERSHIP LESSONS IN 50 YEARS OF MINISTRY.  The 10 lessons are from Chuck but the stuff in between are what I thought of with each lesson (which may or may not correspond with what Chuck shared. I’ve got to admit – when he mentioned each of these lessons my brain and heart were sparked with all kinds of insights…)

1. It’s lonely to lead

Yes it is. Why is this the case?  Because a true leader will sometimes make decisions that no one else understands but himself.  Also, a leader will often, by virtue of leadership, be out in front of those following.  Out in front is lonely.  However, while this is true – it is also why it is paramount that a leader doesn’t get stuck in his loneliness.  Good leaders will find others to grow with.  Good leaders will find ways to stave off the loneliness – recognizing that it comes but also staying out the the quicksand of its grip.

2. It’s dangerous to succeed

Why?  Because success can get to your head and the ego can become like the Hindenburg disaster.  Success may also prevent a leader from growing if they let it breed arrogance.

3. It’s hardest at home

And so it is.  Yet it is also the most important at home.  If a leader isn’t leading well at home then eventually that will be mirrored in wherever else they lead.  Character may be displayed out in the world but it is nurtured and fed at home.

4. It’s essential to be real.

This is a biggie. I really struggle with this one because if I’m honest I don’t want people to know the “real” me!  I don’t want people to know my failings, my weaknesses, my disabilities, or my inabilities.  Yet, I have found that the more real I am, the more impact I have as a leader.  Realness is not just about transparency but it is also about genuineness.  Do you love as much as you say you love?  Do you really care as much as you claim to care?  Are you really passionate about what you say is important?  Are you a good faker?  Your answers to those questions really indicate how genuine you are.

5. It’s painful to obey

Not only is it painful, but its also transforming.  There is blessing in obedience – but often, as a leader, the blessing isn’t seen before obeying but rather after.  Obedience as a leader is painful because often the leader is being asked to obey in something that other people may not have been asked because the leader must go there first.

6. Brokenness and failure are necessary

Necessary, that is,  for the formation of good leaders.  Good leaders rise out of the ashes of broken dreams and failed plans because they don’t die there.  Good leaders learn and grow from the brokenness, and the failure.  Brokenness also applies to the passion which calls a leader to leadership.  Brokenness is the adjective that describes one’s heart wrench.  It compels the leader to be the agent of change for that which is broken.  Read carefully, a leader that isn’t broken or hasn’t failed is just a seed that’s still in the package.

7. My attitude is more important than my actions.

Oh yes.  Really, it’s attitude that directs actions.  You can go and stick 40 sticks in the ground to replace a bunch of logs that were cut down or you can plant 40 saplings to replenish a forest.  It’s attitude that makes the difference.  Is what I’m doing a job or a calling?

8. Integrity eclipses image.

This lesson seems a lot like lesson number four but really it deserves being emphasized.  Integrity is something that is invested in for the long haul for the prize of character.  Image is something that is invested in for the short trip of fame.  The thing about image is its like sand.  It gets blown away easily.  Integrity on the other hand is like rock – it’s solid.  However, it’s not indestructible.  Without care integrity can be blown up just as easily as dynamite blows up rock.  But if you recognize the dynamite before the fuse is lit then it can be preserved.  Image? The fuse is already lit the moment you play with it.  The thing is, you can’t escape image.  But the image integrity builds MATTERS and LASTS, and MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

9. God’s way is better than my way

If only I would never forget this.  But sadly I do.  I suspect its a lesson that a lot of us have to relearn at times.  If this statement is true (and I believe it is) then it might be a good idea to always, always, always seek out God’s way wouldn’t it?

10. Christ-likeness begins and ends with humility

Why is this so?  I’m not going to start on a lesson about humility there – it’s been covered pretty well.   Humility is (are? that’s a tricky grammar construct) the bookends for Christ-likeness because you can’t be full of Christ if you are full of yourself.  Humility in a leader is the open door to Christ’s work in the leaders life.  Humility opens the valve of a leader’s heart to the flowing work of the Holy Spirit in his life.  Humility is the lightning rod that collects the transforming power of God’s Word in what the leader does.  Yes, humility is important!  How apt that Chuck would reference the following scripture,

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  – 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (NLT)

Chuck had a few other things he shared as well, a foundational principle (we must be willing to leave the familiar methods without disturbing the biblical message) and a bonus “Three important observations” about ministry.   Then he ended with “five statements worth remembering during your next 50 years in leadership which are worth recording so I’ve included them here:

1. WHATEVER you do, do more with others and less alone.

2. WHENEVER you do it, emphasize quality not quantity.

3. WHEREVER you go, do it the same as if you were among those who know you best.

4. WHOEVER may respond, keep a level head.

5. HOWEVER long you lead, keep on dripping with gratitude and grace.

There was a lot of leadership juice that got poured into my life in the 50 minutes or so Chuck spoke!  If you want to read what others had to write about this session check out:

Catalyst Day Two – Dave Ramsey, “The Momentum Theorem”

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Catalyst – Day Two got off to another incredible start.  I had decided I’d get up early and get to the doors about one and a half hours before the official start (wanted to make sure I got a good seat again) and was incredibly surprised to find that about 1000 other people got up earlier than me!  NUTS!  Nevertheless, I still got a good seat (I actually managed to snag the same seat I had the day before).

Among the speakers for Day two was Priscilla Shirer, Dave Ramsey, Chuck Swindoll, Louie Giglio and Andy Stanley.  There were also interviews from other folks including Margaret Feinberg.  The interview with Margaret was kind of neat because it kind of came across as a commercial for her new book – in a way it was but then Reggie Joiner announced that this was not a marketing ploy – they wanted to interview Margaret for the book because every attendee from Catalyst was getting a free copy of “Scouting the Divine“,  even better, the upper section of the stadium (where I was sitting) were to get signed copies.  Kind of neat, I’m looking forward to reading the book!

As I stated in the first post in this series, I’m not going to blog on every speaker at Catalyst but only the ones that made a significant impact on me.  Next up is Dave Ramsey.  Dave introduced a concept called the Momentum Theorem, here’s the notes:  (Oh and by the way, I was thinking about an article I wrote about keeping momentum a while ago while listening to Dave speak – feel free to check it out!)


  • When you have momentum, you LOOK – better than you are. When you don’t have momentum you ARE better than you look.
  • MOMENTUM is created. It does not randomly occur.

Definition of Momentum: Focused Intensity, over Time, multiplied by God, equals Unstoppable Momentum!


Focus is lost for two reasons – FEAR and GREED

“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways – James 1:8

Focus means you don’t look at anything outside of what you’re focused on

Rick Warren calls focus being INTENTIONAL

Stephen Covey calls focus being PROACTIVE


Pour intensity into things that really MATTER

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might – Ecclesiastes 9:10

Intensity causes things to MOVE

Over Time

“If I persist long enough, I will WIN” –Og Mandino

Run the race in such a way as to win the prize – 1 Corinthians 9:24

The TORTOISE wins the race every time.

Multiplied by God

You and I are finite. God is INFINITE

He is in CHARGE, and He carries you in the palm of His hand.

What is impossible with men is possible with God. – Luke 18:27

Get PLUGGED in to Him as a power source, and your momentum will become unstoppable!

Find out what God is doing and get in on it – Henry Blackaby

To wrap up, what impacted me the most with what Dave had to say?  What he said about intensity.  I consider myself a pretty intense guy but sometimes I get intense about the wrong things.  It’s okay to be intense but it’s better to be intense with what really matters.

Catalyst Day One – Francis Chan

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009
It's all about Jesus
If you do a cursory check through the various blog posts on Catalyst you will find very little said about Francis Chan‘s session that wrapped up day one of Catalyst.  I find that odd because I found his session to be one of the most powerful of the day.  Although Francis Chan has become a really well known leader because of his book Crazy Love, he didn’t spend the time this session introducing any new stuff or great leadership nuggets.  Instead he lead the Catalyst group (and with his leading you really felt a part of the group) in a time of communion and centering on Christ.  It was simply powerful.  Here are three things that stood out from this time for me.

Francis just radiated joy…

There was no escaping the incredible joy and happiness evident in his speech and his face.   As he shared you could witness one who’s life has been so saturated in the presence of God that it spills out of him.  His joy is contagious.

“Jesus, it’s all about Jesus.”

Sure, it’s been said, and we already know it but there was a Holy Spirit, joy-filled, alive serious powerful humility behind the way Francis Chan said it.  It was good to be reminded after a day of intense teaching and challenging moments that it IS all about Jesus!  We must never forget that everything we do as leaders, everything we say as Christians, everything we believe in, everything we hope for is all about Jesus.

“The presence of the Almighty God is in this room right now, that is so intense. Just stop and think about it.”

As Francis said these words there was a Holy quiet that descended upon the room.  A quiet brought on by the recognition of the one we serve being there amongst us.  It is so easy in big events like this to talk about God, to talk about ministry, to talk about leadership, to even say that we do what we do because of the Father’s call, the Son saving us, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling power but then forget that He is present with us.  I did stop and think about it.  The awe in that moment was palpable.

When I got back to my room after that session there was the afterglow of a Holy moment and I had to just spend time talking with my Father before heading off to bed.  The intimacy of the moment was incredible!  I know you probably won’t ever read this Francis, but thank you for allowing Jesus to lead us through you in such an incredible unforgettable moment.

(picture above from bemky)

Catalyst Day One – Rob Bell

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Rob Bell was the first catalyst speaker to begin his session by opening in prayer.  I’m not saying that is necessarily a fault of all the other speakers but it WAS something that stood out for me.  It was an invitation for the Holy Spirit to be at work in and through him as he spoke to us and I do believe God answered his prayer.

Here’s a few things that stood out for me:

I was recently talking to a pastor who said he wanted to quit…. So I asked him to draw a pie chart of what he does every week. He had been a pastor for a year and wanted to quit every day…. So I asked if he practiced Sabbath.

Umm  yeah, there was silence in the auditorium after that statement.  Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time it’s been said or asked.  There’s gounds of speakers and writers that have promoted the teaching of the sabbath and yet when Rob asked that question you could still feel the conviction in the room.  I know I make my best effort to take my day off as my day off but lately I’ve been slipping on that.  When you skip the sabbath, then motivation and energy skips you.  Sabbath is important.

Is bigger better?

Another simple question that really we all know the answer to (well at least we know what the answer should be!) but once again by posing this simple question Rob unveiled an attitude that still needs dealt with.  Rob shared from John 6 where Jesus gave some expectations and some people chose to leave; he shared from Luke 21 about the story of the widow who gave all she had vs. the rich people who gave much but really were giving little.  What a paradox that in the eyes of Jesus what was more really wasn’t more and what was less was actually more.  The way God measures things isn’t the way we measure things!

Something else that stood up for me was when Rob started sharing about the 10 commandments (Exodus 20).  He highlighted that the first 9 commandments all deal with external things.  Things that if not followed provide ample easy evidence of them not being followed.  However, the 10th commandment is internal – there’s really no way for anybody to know whether someone has broken that commandment (outside of God that is!).  Here was Rob’s point, the 10th commandment is a “reward” – what that means is that if you follow the first 9 rules then you won’t have a problem with the 10th because you won’t want anyone else’s life!  You will be completely enthralled with the life God has given you in Him.

Another statement that really impacted me:

If you have a burden of feeling like you have not accomplished enough, God wants to set you free from that. Jesus wants you to simply enjoy the place that you are at and the work that is in front of you.

If I’m honest with myself this is one area that I really need to be set free from.  I’m a perfectionist.  I’m the kind of guy that when I get started on something important (or at least what I think is important) I tackle it like a bulldog and won’t let go.  Part of the reason I’m that way is because I have always had this niggling little thought in the back of my mind that I haven’t accomplished enough.  There’s always something else I need to do.  When Rob said this I almost started bawling.  The Holy Spirit did something significant in my life through that statement as I released that burden.  It’s a statement that’s going to stick with me for a long time and I’m sure something that I’ll be reminding myself in the days ahead as I’m tempted to take up that thought again.

Another area that really hit home was this statement:

Our children pick up on what really matters to us without us saying a word.

To really grasp the significance of what that means Rob set it up by asking the following questions,

Does your spouse get your very best, or does your spouse get what is left over from the church? Do your kids get your very best, or do they get the scraps?

Ouch!  Again, you could feel the conviction in the air and once again I felt the lock fall off the gate between what I knew in my mind and what I felt in my heart.  It forced me to recognize the scraps I’ve been feeding my family.  And it created a determination in me for that to stop.  It forced me to shudder at what my kids think what really matters to me.  And it challenged me to change that.

There has been much controversy over some of the things Rob Bell has said and written, but in this session God spoke through him and hit me to the core.  Do any of these statements or questions impact you?

For more perspectives on Rob Bell’s session you can check out:

Catalyst Day One – Malcolm Gladwell

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, talked about the danger of overconfidence at his catalyst session.  I found it hard to hear most of his session but there were a few things that stood out for me:

Incompetence irritates me, but overconfidence scares me. Incompetent people rarely have the opportunities to make mistakes that greatly affect things. But overconfident leaders and experts have the dangerous ability to create disaster.

How much disaster could be averted if leader’s didn’t get so overconfident?  A scriptural parallel to this might be King Saul, or even King David and his decision to conduct a census of the number of men able to fight in Israel (disobeying God in the process).

In times of crisis we don’t need bold and daring decision making from our leaders we need bold humility!

Reggie Joiner joined the stage and had two questions for Malcolm.   In his answers, Malcolm revealed that the primary warning sign of overconfidence is when you stop listening to others (incidentally, this reminded me very much of a chapter I read in Andy Stanley’s book, “Principle of the Path” a really good read).  Malcolm also made the statement that when a leader can no longer do everything all by himself, he has to change.  When a leader’s growth reaches a certain point, he has to change. He presented the idea (probably not a new idea but nevertheless) that leadership has to become more collective.

For more on what others have said on this session see:

Catalyst Day One – Getting Things Started and Andy Stanley

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009


Well today was the first day of Catalyst.  Since this is my first year there everything is new to me.  And everything was WOW for me.  They really don’t spare any change in making this an unforgettable event.  At least I know now why the tickets are so much…

Anyway, today was a day full of incredible stuff that challenged, some stuff that was controversial and some holy moments too.  When trying to think, of a way to describe what Catalyst has been for me so far this is what I’ve come up with

What catalyst does is mix your mind and your heart together and adds a good helping of holy getupanddosomething

Yeah, that good.

One disappointment with catalyst was the unreliability of the wifi – I was really hoping to blog during the day so I wouldn’t have these late night posting sessions but it looks like I wasn’t alone in this.  Many of the official bloggers of catalyst were unable to get any kind of wifi connection either with both the in house arena wifi and at&t not playing nicely.  Still, blogs are getting written!  If I come across any I’ll post them at the end of each post I make on Catalyst.

What I’ve decided to do is write each post in a series so that they’re all linked together.  For each speaker I’m just going to write about the one (or maybe two) things that impacted me the most out of what they spoke.  I’ll also post links that I’m aware of at the time of posting to other coverage about that speaker. I’m not going to be writing a post on every speaker, partly because there are some that I just didn’t listen to (because I skipped out early to check out booths without the crowd swarm) and some I just didn’t hear (because I wear hearing aids and have tinnitus and my prayer for close captioning doesn’t get answered…one day! One day.)  Oh, and I should mention, if you’re following Catalyst you really need to bookmark Visit it and you’ll know why

A few remarks I’d like to make about the beginning of the event.  A woman (sorry, my recognizant abilities are not great) opened up catalyst with an amazing Hallelujah moment and of course FEEBAND came out ROCKING the house with some awesome worship.  I’ve read about this band and now I know why people around here love them.  I’m SOOOO glad the Catalyst package included some free downloads of their music!

Andy Stanley was the first speaker.  He shared from Joshua 5:13-15 and here was the biggest takeaway for me.

It’s really not about who’s for you or against you – it’s really about who you are for.

In other words, are you, am I willing to submit my skills, abilities, opportunities, my person to God and His bigger story?  God was in effect saying to Joshua, “I have not come to be a part of what YOU are doing.  I want YOU to become a part of MY story!”

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
“Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord ‘s army.”

Joshua 5:13-14

The commander of the Lord’s army answered, “Neither”.  Why?  Because it’s not about who’s your friend or who’s your foe.  It’s about who you are for.  Are you for God and His plan?  Is He Lord over your life?  Are you wanting His mark to be made through you or are you just wanting to make your piddly little mark?

Andy said that there is a statement on his Dad’s wall that has always stuck out with him – “God takes full responsibility for the life wholly devoted to Him”

Andy really hit home as he finished with this:

You need to settle once and for all why you do what you do and who your doing it for…Living to make my mark is to small a thing to give my life to…so, let’s give our lives to leaving His mark!

What a challenge!  And how liberating!  You don’t have to concern yourself with who’s for you or who’s against you – concern yourself with who YOU are FOR!!  And it better be Jesus.

(check out what Kevin, Brad, Jason, and  Kent,  have to say about Andy if you want to read more)