October 9, 2008
Live from Catalyst: Day 2 Play by Play
Updates all day from the mega-conference in Atlanta.
by Skye Jethani
Groeschel encouraged us all to believe that there is "more in you." And to focus on a simple prayer: "God stretch me." But, he added: "Before God can stretch you, he's got to heal you. Before he can heal you, he's got to ruin you." Groeschel drew from Joel 2 and the imagery of weeping and brokenness and fasting. We must repent in order to get "it" back in our lives.
Some of Groeschel's puns: "It's about the Holy Spir-IT." "Some people are full of IT." And "IT happens." Irreverent humor, clever communication, or slick product placement? You make the call.
Craig Groeschel is on to talk about "It." (Also the title of his book.) He defines "it" as "that something special of God." Not much definition beyond that. "You know it when you see it."
A plug about a new film, "Call and Response," dealing with the trafficking of sex slaves around the world. Social justice issues are very prominent at Catalyst--even the complementary coffee is attached to a cause. Many of the booths around the arena are plugging global causes, and there are large containers near the front entrance for donations. I'm not sure you would have seen that 10, or even 5 years ago at a conference for evangelical church leaders.
Slide from Godin's PowerPoint:
Leadership = Marketing
Marketing = Leadership
Godin: "I am begging you to become heretics." [Cheering] To be different, new, and innovative is to be heretical. Godin doesn't mean this in a doctrinal sense, but in a cultural one. He says, "A huge problem in your industry is control." Religion tries to control rather than influence and lead.
Back in the arena for session 4. The trampoline slamdunk basketball team just left, and now Seth Godin has taken the stage. He's the #1 business blogger in the world. (And I must confess a mistake from this morning ... Jim Collins is not the only person here in a jacket and tie.)
Godin is Mr. Marketing. He says traditional marketing, like commercials that interrupt people, isn't working anymore. We must go back to the idea of people talking to people. He frames this around the idea of "tribes." Talk to consumers, and they'll spread the idea all over the world themselves. "People want to belong to tribes.... Fitting in, being with people like us, is so important." The goal should be connecting people to each other, and then get out of the way.
I finally got lunch...oh, blessed fried calories. I'm out during the next session for a meeting. I'll trust other Urthlings to fill in some details. (Sitting on the floor of the mezzanine outside the arena, I can hear the band fire up "We built this city on rock and roll." Well, I guess it's sorta like Jesus saying he'd build his church upon this rock. Wait, where am I again?)
What separates a level 5 leader (one able to take an organization from good to great) from a level 4 leader? Collins says according to the research the answer is: Humilty. "If it's about you, you cannot build a great organization."
He says the temptation in the church is to build it around the magnetic personality of one leader. Collins calls this highly "irresponsible."
Collins believes the church should not become more like a business. "Most businesses are average, so why would we want to export the ideas of average business to your world [the church]." His focus is becoming great (surprise), and the way to become great according to Collins? Discipline. "That is not a business idea," he says, "but a great idea." Discipline is found in a great symphony, in Lance Armstrong's cycling team, in great public schools, in any great cultural enterprise.
Jim Collins is wearing a jacket and tie...probably the only person within 1/2 mile of this arena.
A school bus just drove into the arena...literally. On the bus: A mariachi band, a world-champion dodge ball player, a banjo player, and a pig named Rafael. This is the Catalyst way of introducing Jim Collins who taught us the importance of getting the right people on the bus.
William P. Young, a.k.a. The Shack dude, is being interviewed on the platform. He wrote the book for his six kids, and it was originally self-published by Young at Office Depot. He describes The Shack as a parable and a metaphor for the damaged heart of a human being. The shack is where we hide all of our secrets and brokenness. But God can be found in our shack, and his desire is to heal us from the inside out.
Young thinks part of the reason the book has taken off is because of word of mouth. He says, "Religion has promised us a relationship [with God] but it hasn't delivered." Young people are particularly fed up with it. They "have the best crap detectors," he says.
What about the heat Young has gotten for his depiction of the Trinity? "It would be helpful if they [the critics] read the book," Young responded. "Some theological paradigms can be just as binding as emotional abuse," he added. Controversy and conversations are good, he believes, it leads to growth.
"God has an affection which is relentless in our direction." That truth took Young fifty years to realize because of wounds he's carried. "God heals us not so he can use us, but because he loves us." Young's passion was evident.
Session 2 begins with a brief interview with Mark Batterson from National Community Church in Washington, D.C. I met Mark a few months ago. You can read the full interview at www.LeadershipJournal.net.
Andy Stanley takes the stage. A lesson from the life of Nehemiah. "Once we become adults, the people who influence us the most rarely have authority over us." "As leaders, we need an authority beyond positional authority?we need moral authority." "Alignment between our creed and our deed?between what we say and what we do."
After explaining the way Nehemiah used his moral authority to lead the effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Stanley applied moral authority to three areas of our lives: forgiveness, family and finances.
Opening welcome by Reggie Joiner focuses on Jesus' words from John 17 about unity. Jesus prayed for unity, and that should be important to us. "There are Democrats and Republicans here together. There are some people from the emerging church and traditional church here together. We are all in the same room together. There is one thing that brings us together: that what is important to God is important to us."
The worship band has everyone on their feet. This is definitely the largest ministry conference I've been to. At least 12,000 people in the arena. I'm curious what the arena employees (the concession workers, facility people, and cleaning staff that I've seen around the building) think about all of this?
The morning session just kicked off. The center of the stage featured an enormous barrel shaped lcd screen that levitated above the platform to reveal a drummer underneath. His rhythmic pounding sent shockwaves through the arena. I could feel my own internal organs shifting. It then broke into the first song of the event: "We will, we will?rock you!"