Tag Archives: Catalyst

Worship Leadership – By M

Many of you who read our blog know that I play guitar and love music.  I began playing the summer before 9th grade mostly because I was bored and we had an unused guitar in the close and learning how to play gave me something to do.  Over the next few years I taught myself to play and sing, and eventually became a part of our youth worship band.  I had a great opportunity to continue to learn and practice and was mentored into leading worship.

Ever since the first time I lead worship (my Junior year of high school) I have loved letting that be a big part of my life and ministry.  Of course with the rewards of getting to lead worship, there are also many pressures.  We live in such a musically driven society, and, maybe it’s just me, but I feel like worship leaders are naturally judged based upon their skills, abilities, and styles.  Also, I think singing, much like public speaking, makes me people more subconscious than just about anything else.

So I have always found myself struggling with my vocal abilities while singing, as well as the fact that I’ve never really been a writer (sure, I write on our blog, but that’s not exactly poetic literature or anything).  And it has always made me feel a little “less than” as a musician and worship leader.

Then as I was reading one of the blogs I follow (Ragamuffin Soul) I was encouraged by what this graphic that the author, Carlos Whittaker (Who is a Worship Leader and church consultant of sorts) put up:

I found this really encouraging (Especially coming from a well-known worship leader and Christian icon).  It helps to remind me that even if I don’t have the best voice, or the best musical ability, or the ability to write the best song (or any song at all, for that matter) that God can and does use me as I lead in music worship.

I think this also applies in plenty of other ministries and areas of life.  So if you ever feel a little “less than” just because your not the child prodigy that can do everything without having to think about it, remember that God wants to and can use you no matter what you do!


Have you ever felt a little “less than the rest” in life?  What’s something you’ve found to be encouraging in your life recently?


– M

Catalyst Conference

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.



Have you been to any outstanding conferences?  What’s something you’ve been learning lately?


–Staci and Michael


The Truth About Christian Giveaways – By M

In case you’re not familiar with Jon Acuff, he is a great Christian writer/blogger/speaker.  Staci found him and introduced his blog to me.  Back then he only had his blog “StuffChristiansLike” (SCL).  Now he’s blogging about much more than that.  You can check him out HERE.  So if you’re not familiar with what he writes on the SCL blog, Jon takes a satirical approach to all of the little Christian nuances that we all know are silly, but do anyway.  I.e. the side hug, the metrosexual worship leader, the guitar kid in the youth group, the kid who always wears shorts even when its 2 degrees outside, the Jesus Juke, leaving church early, and much more.

So this will be my attempt to writing an SCL-esque post… hope you like it.


Yes, because I know it’s wrong to tell lies… I will now tell you the truth about the Christian Giveaway.

What is a Christian Giveaway, you ask?  Well they’re gimmicks that the church is really good about using as a means to draw people to church or another Christian activity.  Some keep it low key – Christian CD, “Facing the Giants” DVD, Christian Concert tickets, etc.  Some churches pull out the big guns – $100 or more prize, new plasma screen TVs, X-boxes, etc.

So, as many of you know, Staci and I were recently in Dallas for the Catalyst conference.  It was an incredibly amazing time!  We sang, we learned, we fellowshipped!  It was a cornucopia of Christian love and camaraderie!  But at the same time this weekend was difficult.  Many of us (and by many I mean probably everyone attending the conference) were made aware of the deep-dark sin that lies inside of us.  This sin is called “I-really-wish-I-won-that-giveaway-but-because-we’re-at-a-Christian-get-together-I-have-to-pretend-to-be-happy-for-you-winning-so-I-don’t-look-like-a-jerk” syndrome.

Don’t deny it! I know you’ve been there.

I experienced this emotion strongly on Tuesday night.  Staci and I went to a book signing by Jon Acuff at Books-a-Million in the mall.  We knew there was going to be a random drawing for a $500 giveaway (yes, even Acuff bribed us to come… of course we would have been there either way).  We got there, got our booked signed, and filled out our raffle ticket…

And waited.

And then the moment came.

“Attention everyone, it’s time for the $500 drawing.”  Ears and eyes perk up and all is silent.

The tension in the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Will it be me? Please be me! You know what I could do with $500!!!  Please, God, I’ve been so good.

“And the winner is….. (Insert name of some other random lucky person here)!”

And the crowd goes wild!  Everyone laughs and claps and congratulates the winner….

But I know what’s really going through everyone’s head… I really wanna punch that guy in the nose and take that money!

Oh yes, we all have this feeling but we play it off all jolly, like the guy won the money to split it all with us.  Well I’m calling everyone out right now!  I know what’s really going on deep inside… you can’t hide…


Or maybe that’s just me and my thoughts, and I have major issues…. yup, probably that.  🙂

oh well…


Have you ever been the lucky recipient of a Christian Giveaway?  What’d you win, you lucky dog?!



Quick Update – By M

Staci and I just got back from Catalyst Dallas.  If your not familiar with Catalyst you can check it out Here. So there’s a lot to be updated on… So I’ll list some things out and we’ll probably address most of them in upcoming Blogs and such!  We just have SO much to share!

1.) Catalyst is an incredible Christian Leadership conference.  Check it out and try to go sometime.  It will blow you away!

2.) I totally pulled the star-struck card like a million times this week while at Catalyst.  Too many awesome Christian leaders and entertainers!

3.) Talked with Jon Acuff – Blogger/Writer/SCL, Carlos Whitaker – Blogger/Musician, Tyler Stanton and Tripp Crosby – Bloggers/Comedians, Craig Groeschel – Pastor/Writer, Pete Wilson – Pastor/Blogger/Writer, and many more!  That was exciting!  And it’s so awesome when you see how down to earth all these men are.

4.) Heard from some incredible Speakers

5.) Listened to awesome live music

6.) Spent some incredible awesome quality time with my wonderful wife!

7.) Another really cool part about the conference was running into some friends we expected to see, as well as some that we did not expect to see.  (Including my 5th/6th grade Sunday school teacher, and my youth group worship leader)

Ok… Now Non-Catalyst events:

1.) Saw some friends at Staci’s Forge Reunion

2.) Had some awesome friends come into town

3.) Went to the beach!  And I poked a Jellyfish! (I know… way too easily entertained)

4.) Baked a-bajillion cookies/cupcakes/brownies/and tons more in the last two weekends. I think I’ve decided to start my own cooking show!

5.) Saw our home’s foundation that was poured while we were away!  Frame goes up next week 🙂

6.) Had my first meal at a Rainforest Cafe.  A little underwhelming, but still good

7.) And I’m sure lots of other things, but I want to try to keep this at least somewhat brief!  Hope to have more up soon!


What have you been up to these last few weeks?  Who has ever left you star-struck?