Catalyst West Recap and Review


Last week I had the opportunity to attend Catalyst West. Catalyst is a Christian 2 day leadership conference designed to motivate younger church staff members to greater ministry effectiveness. They do this with inspiring speakers (from the Christian, business and entertainment worlds), high energy worship, comedy and between show antics. This year’s conference was held at Mariners Church in Irvine with a sold out crowd of 3,500 people. The theme was “MAKE”, focusing around all the different ways we are “makers”, “making a difference”, etc. Below is the report that I sent to my Executive Pastor.

Andy Stanley of North Point spoke twice. The first time was really a promo for his new book Deep & Wide, an autobiographical look at his upbringing, his relationship with his father and the founding and growth of North Point Ministries. Andy is an engaging story teller and shared several personal stories of his early adulthood. Some of the most touching were the stories of his father, their relationship ups and downs. There is no doubt Andy loves and respects his father.

Sound bites
Fathers…your words can make or break your children.
Strive to become a leader worth following.
Your greatest contribution to the kingdom may not be what you do, but who you raise.
Are you making a point, or making a difference. (pay attention to the tension between the two)

The second talk was on creating high-performance teams. This was fundamentally a “best practices talk,” but was refreshing in that they actually implement this stuff!

Sound bites
Hiring staff members is not the same as developing a team.
Higher Doers not Thinkers. It’s much easier to educate a doer then activate a thinker.
Performance-oriented people like to win. It’s important to clarify the WHAT and the WHY.
Share the WHY to cast the vision and organize around the WHAT.
Don’t force people to work around the organization.
Orchestrate and evaluate EVERYTHING. SYSTEMS, SYTEMS, SYSTEMS.
What are the mission-critical events of your organization? (For NorthPoint family ministries, service programming, guest services)

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, Good to Great and his latest book Great by Choice. Having read several of his books, hearing Jim speak in person was a real treat. What was sad, as he talked, there was nothing that he shared indicated he was a follower of Jesus…or that he viewed the church differently than any other non-profit social institution. Andy Stanly reviews his books with his leadership team. He made a point to say that “the goal is not to plow through and finish the book…but the process the information with your team”)

Sound bites
Good is the enemy of the great. Most people will not have a great life, church, school etc, because we already have a good one.
#1 Skill in leading an organization is people decisions, especially who you let on your team.
The question is not whether you will lead, but will you be a great leader?
Never confuse personality with leadership.
Recognize the difference between CORE VALUES and CORE PRACTICES. Be willing the change the practices.
If your organization cannot perform without you, by definition you don’t have a great organization!
Arrogance is the greatest danger of a successful leader. A bad decision made with good intentions is still a bad decision.
The signature characteristic of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
Don’t shoot for being good “on average”…look for sustained, disciplined progress every day.
Shoot bullets…then cannon balls. Try something small, see some success, then scale.

Jud Wilhite from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, talked on “surviving the roller coaster of leadership.” His stories and illustrations were very similar to what we heard at the North Coast Sticky Team Conference.

Sound bites
There is a difference between having a spectacular ministry and having a faithful and sincere heart.
We all need to be aware of self-reliance.
In the end of your life you will be reflecting on two things…your service to the Lord and the relationship with your family.
Life is messy. Get a mop and start cleaning.
The smile of the second chance.

Chip Heath (of the brother team and Chip and Dan Heath) is the author of Made to Stick, Switch and his new book Decisive: How to make better decisions in life and work. I love the Heath brother’s books and it was a real treat to see him live. Similar to Jim Collins, there was no indication by what he said that he was a believer.

Sound bites
You can make better decisions…
Trusting your “gut only works in situations where you have over a decade of experience and the feedback is quick and clear.
Avoid BINARY decisions (Yes/No)…adding in a third alternative increases better decision making tremendously
(example, not fire or keep them…what about reassign them?)
Try to attain some perspective
Sleep on it. A nights rest can sometimes make things clearer
If your best friend was in a similar situation, what would you tell them? *fastest way to better decision making
If someone new was coming in to take your job, what would they do? Do that before somebody else DOES : )

Matt Chandler, lead pastor of the Village Church shared from a teaching series they did on “the big bucket of doubts.” He focused in on two, “if I’m a believer, why do I still sin?” and “why don’t I have more joy?”

Sound bites
Do you let the Word of God “weigh in” on your life?
We have a perverse notion of what love is. Feelings are shallow…I love you regardless.
If we try to answer the question of holiness and joy by starting with us we’ll get it all wrong.
God is holy in his power, his knowledge and his presence.
Majesty and perfection define his character and nature.
We are limited in our scope and understanding.
When the unjust (us) starts judging God (the Just One) it makes no sense
God is good…even in the bleeding.
A “Big God” theology is a warm blanket for everyone that will get under it.

Christine Cain, social activist and author shared from II Timothy the idea of passing the baton to the next generation. Similar to our current series “Passing the Torch” I appreciated her examples taken from the Olympic games.

Sound bites
Nobody wins until the last team passes the baton
It’s not about how fast I run, if the truth has not been passed on to the next generation we all lose.
The problem is SIN and the only solution is JESUS.
Tolerance is not endorsement.
If you forget that others ran before us, you will forget that others will run after us.
It is an honor to carry the baton of faith.
Get your face of Facebook and into The Book.

There were others that shared…rappers, poets, activists, artists and actors. Technically speaking (lights, music, programming, etc.) it was one of the most impressively smoothly, coordinated events that I’ve ever attended. The mariners campus is vast and beautiful. The grounds were well kept and inviting.

On one of the breaks I took the opportunity to seek out and visit the Communications department of Mariners Church. Four full time designers, plus their own print shop. They put out nice work (no admin designers!).

As I shared at a staff meeting, I left the conference with some exclamation points(!) some question marks (?) and a third category of “What Were They Thinking” (@#$%^). Or in other words, this conference had it all…the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are a lot of 20 something on the staffs of churches.
A key component of leadership is mentorship.
I like food trucks : )
Clarity, alignment, focus with a drive toward excellent implementation is so rare…and when I find it, it seems to be in areas other than the church…or in liberal churches.

Do we really believe that “leadership” books from secular authors contain the answers that will help us grow our churches?
What kind of worship are we offering when all the songs focus on me…my healing, my victory, my overcoming, my power and my anointing?
The more complex the organization the more “leadership” matters. Has the modern church moved into activity areas beyond our original intent…therefore muddying the waters with the need for more complex organizational structures?
Why does it seem that Christians are stumbling all over themselves to be relevant, hip and cool when the message that we share is so offensive?

Potty Mouth directors on stage that basically deny the gospel and confuse good works with truth.
Cheering for actors that share their Bahia Faith on stage of a Christian workshop.

I know going in that I wasn’t going to be agreeing with everything. Not sure if I would bring a team, but glad I went.

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