Highs and Lows from Catalyst 2009

I attended my first Catalyst Conference ( http://www.catalystspace.com/ ) last week in Duluth, Ga. It's hosted by a group from Andy Stanley's North Point Church in Alpharetta, Ga. Everything I had ever heard about Catalyst was how great is was so my expectations were extremely high. I'm glad to say that my Catalyst experience did not disappoint!

Highs (to many to list so here are just a few)

Speakers: Just check out this lineup, it's a virtual who's who of leadership - Andy Stanley, Malcolm Gladwell, Rob Bell, Tony Dungy, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, Priscilla Shirer, Dave Ramsey, Chuck Swindoll, and Louie Giglio!! My top three talks/speakers would have been Shirer, Swindoll, and Chandler, although all could have easily been the best at any other conference.

Music: Steve Fee, although not as popular yet, is just as good at worship leading as Crowder, Redman, Tomlin, and Hall. The biggest complement he could have gotten was when my partner in ministry and senior pastor leaned over after the first song and said, "Who is this guy? He's really good!"

Surprise / Unannounced Guest: Most conferences have to play all there cards just to get folks to show up. Not Catalyst. They had enough faith people would come just on past experience and word of mouth that they didn't have to tell all their secrets. So in just about each session, there were 10 in all, they revealed a surprise guest such has Mac Powell from Third Day who after sharing his recent adoption story lead the crowd of 13,000 in the singing of "Mighty to Save", to best selling author Mitch Albom. My favorite spoken word poet Amena Brown was also there at a few of the sessions. If you have never heard her you need to google or youtube her ASAP. She is amazing!

SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
Both levels of Gwinnett Arena were packed with vendors trying to get every pastor there to buy into there product. The best part was all the cool free stuff they gave away just to get you to stop by there booth. I loaded up on tee shirts, cd's, books, and more!

Amazing God Sightings
There were two instances or God sightings that are hard to put into words and if I try I'll just cheapen the experience. But when the worship leader from the Brooklyn shared the story of his wife and then the young man from Kenya who was surprisingly brought into the presence of his long Compassion International donor, you could barely stand from the heaviness of God.

Lows (not to many)

- There were two speakers I did not care for and for the sake of not tearing down other believers I will leave it at that.
- The crowd. It was cool to have 13,000 people/pastors/leaders joining together for worship and learning but that's about all that was good about the crowd. Mike and I were then only ones without an iphone or Blackberry. I know this because the other 12,998 had then out and were playing with them 24/7. It drove me crazy. If I had heard one more of them talk about twitter I would have snatched their phone and smashed it. I've made it no secret how I feel about twittering and these guys just validated every critical concern I had. On top of that all the 50+ year old men dressed like 20 year olds and all the 20 year olds dressed like Rob Bell, glasses and all.
- Length of days. The conference was only two days long but it felt like a week. Thursday ran from 7am-9:30pm and Friday lasted from 8am-5:30pm. I think it would be a bit easier on the attendees, or at least me, if they stretched it out over 3 days. Since it started so early on Thursday, most folks were already down there on Wednesday anyway.

What I learned
I plan on posting some of my notes here over the next few days. The ones that will make the most sense without needing a lot of explanation will get posted.

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