Saturday, April 25, 2009

Highlights from Catalyst

Usually when Martin informs me that he has to go to another pastor's conference, I don't exactly do cartwheels. 3 days alone with the boys - need I say more? And sometimes there are 3 or 4 of these a year. But this time, the conference was only 30 minutes away and he was coming home each night. Delighted was I! I was even more delighted when on the second day he called me and said "you need to be here tomorrow. I'm giving you my ticket." Just to be sure we weren't sinning, I checked the website and they said the tickets were transferrable :) I honestly didn't really want to go, but he kept telling me how awesome it was and that he really felt I needed to be there. He knows my heart for ministry and that I haven't really gotten to pursue that much the past 5 years. So, at 7:30am on Friday, my pastor and another pastor picked me up and we all carpooled down there.

Catalyst West Coast is a Church Leaders Conference unlike ANY I have ever seen, heard of, or been to. This blows those other ones out of the water. It is high energy, hilarious, fast-paced, and packed with speakers and musicians on stage. You are surrounded by over 3000 other leaders (mostly in the Southern California area) from different evangelical denominations. I walked in and thought "Wow - I'm in a room full of young preppy church leaders." But before you tune out, I will tell you that I saw a genuineness that I was not expecting. It was life changing. If you are a church leader or even interested in being a church leader at any time in your life, I am not just telling you that you should go. I am begging you to go.

There is no way that you can get the full effect here, but let me at least share a few things I wrote down that may encourage you as they encouraged me. I'll show you a bit what the schedule was like. Oh yeah, and keep in mind that I was only there 1 day out of 3, and missed Hillsongs on the second day. But you can bet I'll be there again next year and will hopefully see them then.

8:00am - Drive into parking lot of Mariner's Church. Greeted by a friendly young fellow (who was really very happy for it being 8:00am) stopping cars and giving out free Krispy Kreme donuts to everyone. Found parking spot. Saw some other pastors walking by who I knew. Saw a group of Mennonites walking in, too. Wow. This should be interesting.

8:15am- Walk down pathway lined with Christian vendors giving out free stuff- be still my beating heart! Got in line for free Fair-Trade coffee. While in line, someone walked by passing out free copies of Dave Ramsey's newest book Total Money Makeover. (Of course I walked OUT of line to check out a booth while these were being passed out and did not get a copy!!!)

8:30am - Walk into auditorium packed with over 3000 people slapping together thunder sticks while singing along to the guy on stage singing "I Would Walk 500 Miles". Fun! Found great seats and watched as two hilarious guys entertained the audience. Funny videos shown. Games played. Extreme Dodgeball game with the actual dodgeball champions (they did this in an open area at the back).

9:00am - Amazing worship. Wow. Seriously. Followed by Erwin McManus.
(Hey! Turns out someone already typed up all the notes for me! Cool! Just click on the name). Erwin's message incorporated amazing visual aids, two dance routines and ended with his daughter Mariah singing. The message was amazing.  He talked about how we all born "unordinary" and somehow we become "ordinary" over time.  We forget the dreams that we had.  We stop pursuing them.  But God wants us to dream again.

10:30am- Break.  Saw Rick Warren outside surrounded by many adoring fans.  Smelled Chik-Fil-A being cooked for us.

11:00am- "A Conversation on Justice" with Jeannie Mai, Naomi Zacharias, and Bethany Hoang.  These 3 young women talked about sex trafficking, which is not only a huge problem in other countries, but here as well. Very moving and inspiring.

11:30am- Rick Warren (see notes here). I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much here. Not because I don't like Rick Warren, but because his books are just so basic and I wasn't astounded by them. But he blew my socks off. He is a very intelligent but very humble man. I got so much out of his message. He spoke a lot about avoiding burnout as leaders. He challenged the church to not just create disciples - not just draw people in or make them commit to tons of ministries, but to actually disciple them. He stressed the importance of having a plan - a process - so that this happens. He said we need to "judge a church not on their seating capacity but on their sending capacity." Read the notes for more great quotes like that.

12:30pm - Lunch. Free Chik-Fil-A. Need I say more? I was in heaven. Took a walk with my pastor over to the wooden chapel on Mariner's campus, and we got some ideas for our own church. Their campus is beautiful.

1:30pm - Came back in to a room full of high-energy people pumped up by caffeine and spicy chicken breath. We worshipped some more, saw hilarious skits, and then welcomed Luis Palau, Kevin Palau and John Bishop who spoke on impacting your city.

2:00pm or so - WelcomedFrancis Chan to the stage. Another amazing speaker. He talked about being bold in our faith, not being afraid of what others think. A great quote by him: "We were taught to preach exegetically but do we live exegetically?" (meaning - do we really apply the Word of God to our lives and let it shape how we act, or do we twist it to rationalize whatever we are doing?)

3:00pm- Powerful worship. Time of repentance and praying for each other. Lots of tears, immediately followed by a break where hundreds of people lined up to use the bathroom who all had puffy eyes.

4:00pm- Perry Noble.
If you ever get to hear this guy speak, he will have you rolling with laughter and then crying the next minute. He is flat out HILARIOUS. I took so many notes, my hand hurt. He spoke about vision. "The size of the vision God has given me is directly related to the amount of pain and discomfort I am willing to endure." He spoke about how ministry is often like speaking to "dry bones" (Ezekiel 37). "The dryness will lead to desperation." "The dryness is not necessarily because of sin in your life but to make you desperate for Him." He asked us "what would you attempt to do for God if you knew you would not fail?" This was powerful. It is hard to put it into words.

5:30pm- As we ended with worship and then exited the building, we were given a departing gift - Otter Pops. Why? I don't know. As we drove out of the parking lot, they had teams of people waving signs that said "Thanks for coming!" "Nice Car!" and "We will Miss You!" There was even a guy stopping every car to hand out Dum-Dum Suckers (hmmmmm)... :)

Basically I feel like I got an IMMENSE amount of knowledge and insight from some of the nations top speakers in only 8 hours or so. If you get a chance to go to one of these next year, do it. It could change your life, your ministry, and give you a new vision. This post is long enough, but there was a new work started in my heart that I will be excited to learn and share about over the next few months and years...


  1. Sounds like a great day! So glad you had the opportunity - blessings :)

  2. Jaimie! Great post...I work with Catalyst but actually missed most of the conference because of all the things we had going on, so this was actually a GREAT recap of the day! So glad you were there...