We had the amazing opportunity to go to the Catalyst Conference in Dallas almost two weeks ago. We’re so thankful that our church supports us like they do, and that they encourage us to attend conferences like this. It was an incredible conference! I (Staci) have been to multiple conferences, including Catalyst in Atlanta in 2007, and this was by far the best conference I’ve ever been to.
According to the website, “Catalyst and the annual Conferences provide a wide cover for addressing a variety of topics specific to Next Generation Leaders, including organizational leadership, personal leadership, integrity, character, relationships, and teamwork, among others.” The conference was full of great speakers, music, entertainment, games, networking, and a call to action. We participated in the “Labs” on Wednesday, and then went to the main conference on Thursday and Friday. It was SO great!
This year’s theme was “Take Courage”, and it focused on stepping out and actually doing what God has called us to do as individuals and the Church. If God has called us to something, He can give us the courage to do it.
We learned so much, and we want to be able to pass some of this on to you all (and REALLY encourage you to try to make it to Catalyst next year!). We could go on and on and on and still not cover everything that happened at the conference/everything that we loved about Catalyst. But don’t worry…we won’t go into all of it in one setting.
Today, we want to summarize a few things that each of us took from the conference. And then over the next few months, we’ll share some of our notes with you and go into more detail about what we feel like God spoke to us/what really stood out during each session.
- It’s always a good reminder to hear that church isn’t a numbers game. It’s easy to get caught up in how many people we have in attendance on a given Sunday or Wednesday rather than focusing on the ministry that is being done each week.
- Everybody has a starting point. This is something I learned in college, but God still teaches me each day. God has a path for me and he expects me to do the little things right each day before he trusts me with more (Kind of like the Parable of the Talents)
- I think a lot of times most people want so badly to be the next Francis Chan, Chris Tomlin, Andy Stanley, David Crowder, etc. I was reminded again this week that God has created me to be me, and to do what he wants me to do. Whether I’m in a big church or a small church or whtether I’m famous or not, I remember that I am doing God’s work, and he will make me who he wants me to be.
- In think the thing that hit me the most (which is something God has been slowly making me aware of since January) is that we’re trying to do too much of this on our own. One thing that was asked was “If the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved in your ministry, would you even realize it?” We can plan and have all of these great programs, but if God/the Holy Spirit isn’t in it, then it’s all for nothing. I realized that we can do a lot of “ministry” without ever doing true ministry at all. And I don’t want that to be characteristic of us. I want to MAKE SURE that God is in everything we do–that we’re doing what HE tells us to do instead of just making plans on our own.
- I absolutely loved being surrounded by so many Christian leaders–both on the stage and in the seats. It was so encouraging to see so many people serving and worshiping Jesus. It also made me miss being around people my age, with similar worldviews. So I tried to soak it in as much as possible.
- One thing that probably had a lot to do with it being my favorite conference was being there with Michael. It was great to just be together and experience everything with each other. It’s hard to go to a conference or hear/see something and then fill the other person in later. It’s just not the same. So having this shared experience brought us even closer.
- I finally came to grips with the fact that I’m a “dreamer” more than a “doer”. I have about a million and five ideas bouncing around in my head, and I’m passionate about every single one of them. But I don’t always have the greatest follow-through or the most realistic expectations. That’s one of the reasons Michael and I work well together. I dream and then he brings me back down from the clouds so we can discuss whether or not this could actually happen and how. But I still need to work on not getting passionately offended if all of my ideas aren’t greeted with as much enthusiasm as I think they deserve. : )
- I left with a great sense of urgency to make a difference in the world. And to help others be inspired to do the same. We heard from some different ministries that are responding to the call to help the hurting, broken, and poor of the world. And I was convicted and encouraged that we need to do even more than we are. We have LOVED sponsoring our Compassion International children over this past year +. But it’s not enough. We’ve been given an amazing opportunity to love on people and truly make a difference, and I’m going to take it. I’ve been praying a lot about how to communicate this urgent opportunity to others.
We could go on and on and on and on about all that we got out of the conference and what God did in us during it. But we’ll leave you with this for now. Keep your eyes open for more Catalyst posts. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy remembering and writing about them.
–Staci and Michael