Catalyst Labs stimulate and challenge

The annual Catalyst Conference here in Atlanta is always preceded by what are called Catalyst Labs. These are workshops with amazing speakers (last year I got to meet Eugene Peterson among others) and I find it more helpful and exciting than the arena event which attracts 11,000 people. Here is a bit of my experience to piggyback on Jeff Leake’s reports on the general sessions which I also attended. Click here for Catalyst site
First of all Catalyst Lab speakers included Mark Batterson, Chris Seay, Matt Chandler (he was great), David Batstone, Leonard Sweet, Ron Martoia, Jud Wilhite, Nancy Ortberg, Reggie McNeal, Tim Elmore, Brad Powell, Ed Stetzer, Gabe Lyons, Rick McKinley, Shane Claiborne and many more.
I am always alone when I come here so it can be hard because I am a social creature. I long for discussion and fellowship but have to be satisfied with information and inspiration. Fortunately, as we were waiting to enter the venue for the evening session on Wednesday I asked the man next to me where he was from. “Newfoundland” he said. I was thrilled because we have a lady in our church from Newfoundland. But it got better because he was from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland, serving as their Secretary/Treasurer. Turns out he had no transportaion to and from his hotel, so I had a spirit-filled buddy for the next two days!
I love this conference because of the diversity, not just in subject matter, but also in terms of attendees. There is also a sense of expectancy and excellence that I rarely find elsewhere. A man named Reggie Joiner always opens with a Pre-Lab session, and he is very creative. He shared is views on ministry and used ten words to characterize the transitions we need to make in the coming years.

  • From focus on Students to focus on Leaders. We need to begin to see those who sit in our classes as potential leaders being trained for ministry instead of mere pupils being filled with our great wisdom.
  • From Content to Experience. It’s the difference between a classroom and an apprenticeship. We must flesh things out and show how the scripture works in the real world.
  • From Production to Relationship. People are more important than the show we perform each week.
  • From Age-focused to Family-focused. We must stop dividing families during the church ministry time and give parents tools to share their faith with their most important mission field- their children.
  • From Growth to Service. We must mobilize to serve a broken world and leave the growth to God.

Reggie Joiner is head of RETHINK, and is worth listening to.

I love Leonard Sweet’s brilliance. He is a futurist and is always thinking in terms of what is next. His job seems to be to prepare and warn the church so we can be more effective and not miss the waves of change that come like continuous ripples, faster and faster it seems. He explained how the classic bell curve with it’s large middle and diminished ends has been replaced by the “well curve” with almost no middle and large ends. We see it in economics (the diminishing “middle class”), politics becoming polarized, and even in the church where we have mostly large or small churches, but very few medium sized churches. He encouraged us to build bridges between the ends, because that’s what Jesus would do. He also called us to be MRI- Missional, Relational and Incarnational. Leonard Sweet

I came away from the Labs with many good ideas, but more importantly I am reconsidering the way we do things at Mountainside. I can see more clearly where we ought to be going and how we might get there. All I ask of a conference or gathering these days is two simple things. I need to be inspired to give my life more fully and purely to the cause of Christ, and some effective and meaningful ways to motivate others to do that with me.

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