Catalyst 2012 Take-Aways

Catalyst 2012 was an incredible experience.  Interestingly enough, after a decade of conference hopping, I had never made it to the actual Catalyst conference.  So glad I finally made it.

It was definitely like dringing from a fire hydrant.  Wayyyy too much content to process in 48 hours.  I’m sure I’ll spend the next several weeks decompressing everything I’ve heard and learning how it fits into my specific leadership and ministry contexts, but in the mean time, I’ll go ahead and dump my takeaways here.  Maybe latching on to one or two of these thoughts might be helpful for whatever season you’re in.


-Leaders are defined by their RESPONSE to the following things:  Unexpected Opportunity, Unavoidable Adversity, Undeniable Calling.

-The most important thing as a leader may not be what you actually DO, but who watches you do it, and how they would describe you along the way.


-God may choose to make you into who he wants you to be through an unexpected opportunity that you feel totally unprepared for.

-It’s always better to make a difference than to make a point.

-God gets more mileage out of adversity in your life than anything else.

-Leaders are made, ONE response at a time.


-5 Characteristics of a Healthy Team:

-TRUST.  As a leader of a team, you MUST be the first to be vulnerable, and create an atmosphere where people trust you.  They have to know you are human, and they can talk to you about the areas you need to improve in.  If not, they won’t trust you.  They may do what you say, but never fully trust you.  And if they don’t trust you, you can’t trust them.

-CONFLICT.  You must be willing to disagree OUT LOUD, and to one another.  Healthy conflict almost always leads to the truth.

-COMMITMENT.  Always force clarity of direction and vision, as well as the course of the team.  You will, in the process, develop a team that is fully committed to the direction of the organization.

-ACCOUNTABILITY.  You have to be willing to confront difficult issues and hold people accountable.  Leaders who choose not to hold their teams accountable, then simply dismiss or terminate them because of their mistakes are cowards.  And firing someone without holding them accountable, in love, is the last act of cowardice.

-RESULTS.  As a team, you must be focused on the same results in order to have collective outcomes.


-Once you are broken, you begin to hear and see things you couldn’t otherwise see an hear apart from being broken.

-We cannot serve the broken unless we realize our own brokenness.

-Grace means nothing if not shared.

-Our job is to stand between the marginalized and those throwing the rocks at them.  Stone-catching is not our elective, it’s our calling.


-In leadership, there is no PROGRESS until we embrace the PROCESS.

-Your greatest potential is found in your preparation.

-Your focus on your “ANNOINTING” gets you nowhere.  Your focus on your AVAILABILITY to God gets you everywhere!

-Leadership Cup-Check:  David NEVER dishonored Saul.  Instead of talking ABOUT your leader, talk TO your Savior.


-If you wait until something makes complete sense, or you are sure it will work, YOU WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING.


-The last thing the Body of Christ needs right now is another wounded healer. We have plenty of those.

-We hang onto our junk and carry it into our leadership. We carry it and put our stuff onto other generations.

-Nothing will kill you quicker than a spotlight.

-Using social media to tear other people down is a terrible way to show God’s love.

-Your talent will open the door but only your character can keep you there.


-We’re told to go and make disciples, but we often just sit and make excuses.

-When we begin making disciples we will begin experiencing God.

-It’s in disciple-making and witnessing that we experience the Spirit in our lives.

-We make disciples because we love the lost.

-Too many of us hear tough sermons and just walk away sad…so did the rich young ruler. We must walk away changed.


-Remember WHO you are. You aren’t what you make, You are MADE.

-Remember who God is. God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.


-When God prompts you, he won’t show you all the details. You can’t handle all the details. He may not show you the details. You’ll have to take the step of faith.

-To step towards your destiny, you have to step away from security.

-If you’re not ready to face opposition from your obedience to God, you’re not ready to be used by God.

-Everything new and effective will be met with resistance.

-If I blame myself when things go poorly, I will take credit for when things go well.

-If you’re a church, you should be called a cult every now and again or you’re probably not doing anything significant.


-Our job is on the fringes of our flock, where they bite, kick, and scratch.

-Some of you have come in here with a smile on your face with a devastated heart.

-Sometimes in ministry, we define our success by attempting to score the touchdowns of others rather than the touchdowns that God puts in place of us.

-The way the Bible works is inside out, not outside in.

-God works in the mess. The Bible has an uncanny ability to teach the realities of the Gospel through the messiness of the Bible.

-I don’t want to go camping with a judge. I want to go camping with Dad, though.

-No job is better than Jesus.

-No position is better than having Jesus.-Being a pastor will NEVER be better than being a son of God.

-It’s not up to you to reach the nations. God will reach the nations. But he’s invited you to play. It’s up to you to decide if you want to play.

Common Ground

One of the questions I get asked a lot, not necessarily from regular joes, but primarily from other church leaders is: “What’s the deal with your music?” And even though most of them don’t come right out and say it, I know EXACTLY what they mean…

They want to know why every time they see a youtube video from our church, or see footage from one of our student ministry services, they see us unapologetically doing what they would call “secular” music. (Here lately, we’ve been opening almost every service with it.)  With all the AMAZING (hear the sarcasm?) “Christian” music available today, why do you do so many songs that aren’t “Christian?” 
So I’d like to take a moment and address their line of questioning…
First things first, you have to understand why we do what we do on Sunday mornings. Top to bottom, in every environment, our NUMBER ONE goal is to see EVERYONE experience LIFE-CHANGE through Jesus. But to get skeptics and saints alike to BOTH dial in, and focus on what that life-change looks like, we are required to find some common ground for everyone right out of the gate. That common ground CAN’T be theology, belief systems, or facts. It has to be something that taps into everyone’s human emotion.  Why?  Because not everyone has a theological perspective…but EVERYONE has emotion.  Happiness, awe, excitement, etc…
Now don’t get me wrong, I want people to understand theology, build a faith on truth, and develop a sound belief system. But if their not tuned in, paying attention and focused on how to have those things, we might as well be talking to a wall. So we try in almost every service (usually right up front) to do a song, play a game, play a video…whatever, that has NO OTHER PURPOSE but to make people happy that they came. We literally do things that serve one single purpose: making people have fun. Why? BECAUSE EVERYBODY ENJOYS HAVING FUN, churched or unchurched! It’s common ground for everybody in the room. As humans, we are always DRAWN to people and environments that make us feel good, and we always RESIST people and environments that make us feel uncomfortable. That’s why we do what we do.
Jesus did the same thing. In Luke 15, we find Jesus teaching to a very mixed crowd, tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and religious leaders. How could you possibly relevantly teach to such a diverse group. Rather than diving right in to the teaching, Jesus starts by finding common ground. He starts out by talking about how it feels when someone loses a sheep. A sheep! Not about the Heavenly Kingdom, or about faith, or about the Father’s will…but SHEEP! (What a secular topic!) He knew that everyone in His audience could relate to what it would feel like to lose a sheep. Then, he moved on to another topic…not God, or His purpose for the world, but a lost coin.  A LOST COIN!  Again, another secular topic…but people could relate, whether you were religious or not.  Finally, he moves on to a third topic.  SIN? SALVATION? ATONEMENT?  Negative ghostrider…he talked about a lost son.  WHY???  Why would the son of God with limited time on this earth spend time talking about such trivial things?  Because Jesus knew and understood the importance of getting everyone’s attention and making sure everybody had something they could track with. Then, once he had their attention, He went on to teach them about the love of His Father in Heaven. But first, he found common ground, and had them dial in through human emotion.
When we do “secular” songs at our church. It’s not just to be cool. It’s so that we can get people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds on common ground, dialed in, and connected with what is happening on the stage.  I mean, everybody loves a good Beatles tune, or the latest from Coldplay, right?  When we do secular music, we are using it to find common ground with people who don’t yet know God or are a part of His church.  And we will continue do whatever it takes to ENGAGE the people God has sent our direction, so that we can successfully CHALLENGE them with the truth of God’s word. Besides, why wouldn’t you wanna check out a church where a Foo Fighters tune is in the lineup?