So each year National Community Church takes their (our) entire staff (plus spouses) to the annual Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. It’s an incredible time of worship led by folks like Gungor and Israel Houghton and leadership lessons and other great content from people like Andy Stanley, Susan Cain, Patrick Lencioni, Bryan Stevenson, Perry Noble, Mark Burnett, Christine Caine, Francis Chan, Jon Acuff, Craig Groeschel, Matt Chandler, Simon Sinek, and Geoffrey Canada.
Part of our team arrived Wednesday morning to attend the Labs. These are some of my key takeaways.
Bob Goff led the opening lab and was as inspiring and hilarious as always. He declared that we should love extravagantly rather than efficiently and said that everyone wants to make a difference but no one wants to be different. His mantra basically comes down to “love God, love people, do stuff.”
He said we should regularly clear the decks of all that matters in our lives and then reassemble those things in order of priority. One thing we’ll discover is that most of the stuff that “head fakes” the body of Christ is #52 or so on our list of priorities, so why do we give that stuff so much time?
I highly recommend his book “Love Does.”
For my first lab breakout, I chose Chris Seay, who spoke about how the primary critique of Jesus was that he was hanging out with sinners. Chris asked if we are like Jesus in that way?
As Christians, Chris argued that we are called to be good conversationalists – we should be able to sit with people and find common ground. How do we do that? Often by being honest about our weakness and brokenness. He said any good conversation will lead to truth, which means it will lead to Jesus since He is truth. He also said that questions are the breath of life to conversations.
Side note: He made me wonder if I should start leading the Transformational Conversations workshop I’ve been trained to do and which I’ve drawn from to create our training for NCC coaches. Maybe as a J-Term group? End side note.
Chris pointed out that the culture is asking spiritual questions (in shows like LOST and Sopranos, for example) and that we just need to join the conversation.
Check out Cruciformity — his church’s annual Stations of the Cross art show which most recently took the form of tattoos.
Next up I attended Michael Hyatt’s session on developing a platform, which to be honest didn’t impress me that much. He did have some good content though, especially in regards to engaging your “tribe” (e.g., your blog audience). He says you lead simply by starting a conversation and asking the right questions, and he has a general rule of thumb of making 20 deposits (helpful content) for every 1 withdrawal (request that your tribe do something for you).
Michael’s hugely popular blog can be found here.
For the third breakout I went to hear Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian and grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. Pretty awesome talk!
He talked about the power of the Gospel to set Christians (not just non-Christians) free and what it means to live under grace rather than under the law. Our identities (how we view ourselves) are shaped by which logic we live by and we become enslaved when we locate our identities in anything smaller than Jesus.
Under the law we have to perform, be successful, and achieve, but under grace we can be set free. As Christians, who we really are has nothing to do with us – our identity is anchored in Christ’s victory, Christ’s strength, etc.
Tullian asked what it is that if taken away from you would make you feel like your life isn’t worth living any more? That’s your idol.
Freedom happens when we realize we can’t fix ourselves (sounds like a certain Step 1). We need to constantly remind ourselves where our value comes from so we don’t try to validate our lives through our work. Jesus does not stand at the top of a ladder and shout down “Climb!” He hangs on a cross and whispers “It is finished.”
All in all, Tullian’s talk sounded like one you’d hear at Living Waters or The River, but tweaked for a general audience. Which makes me wonder if that’s something I should do (on my blog or elsewhere).
I’ve started following @pastortullian on Twitter and suggest you do the same.
For my last lab session, I went to find out about the power of introverts from Susan Cain. Fascinating stuff.
She talked about how our society has become geared toward extroverts – more and more group projects in school, noisy workplaces, etc. – and how we tend to follow the opinions of peers, especially the most assertive.
She advocates a “quiet revolution” where we rethink meetings (let people brainstorm in advance before they do so together) and rethink leadership (go after those with a vision to make a difference in the world, not just the good talkers).
She cited several examples of great leaders who were introverts and said their leadership success was often because they were driven by a passion that caused them to speak out. Others can catch an introvert’s vision because they know they really mean it and aren’t just seeking a spotlight.
I recommend checking out her TED talk, which has received almost 3 million views.
I’ll post on the actual conference sessions soon!