If I had to describe catalyst in 300 words, I’d write “Awesome” 300 times.

Catalyst 2010 was awesome. There are no two ways about it – the only real disappointment I had they didn’t hand out LED key chains this year. That may not sound like much, but it was one of the biggest ‘wow’ factors of last year – when they turned off all the lights in that arena and 12,000 little red,blue and white LEDs start twinkling 360 degrees around that enormous room – wow. It really added to the crowd participation during  the performance songs.

But, this year was awesome in its own ways. So I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite things about the conference in 2010.

My favorite parts of Catalyst this year

  • Andy StanleyI don’t think that I could pick out a favorite talk. They were all so incredible, but I really appreciated both of Andy’s talks. His first message focused on setting aside our appetites for  God’s plans while his second was about tensions within the church and how some tensions don’t need to be solved, but they do need to be managed.
  • Tim Elmore – Of the Labs that I went to this year, Tim Elmore was without a doubt the coolest speaker. He talked about the differences between generations, specifically focusing on the younger half of Generation Y. I was so impressed with him that I bought his book, “Generation iY” before they handed them out free to everyone there. So someone in my family is getting this book for Christmas.
  • Randall Wallace – After lunch on friday they surprised us by having Randall Wallace, screenwriter of Braveheart and director of Secretariat which released that day. Randall turned to the crowd of Christian leaders and admitted that he would probably meet with trouble in his industry for coming to such a conference but then said to the crowd “I’m with you.” It was very encouraging to know that there are still Christian people in Hollywood.
  • Michael Junior – I’d never heard of Michael Junior, a comedian who has appeared on Jay Leno and numerous comedy clubs. Michael had been a Christian since a young age when one day he was praying before going out on stage and he felt God was calling him to use his gift as an outreach. Now he does comedy in rehab centers, children’s hospitals and even prisons. He made a documentary about the different places he went and a played a segment of it, but more than anything – he was just funny. I’m usually pretty snobby about humor and he made me laugh out loud several times.
  • Scott Harrison – The founder of Charity:Water, Scott Harrison has a great story. I can’t do it justice in just a few lines, but the most amazing part was that his mother, whose immune system was destroyed due to carbon monoxide poisoning, was miraculously healed after he decided to start Charity:Water.

So those were a few of my favorite parts this year – Catalyst basically inspired this whole blog, so it won’t surprise you to know that I expect it to inspire four or five more posts before the month is out. There were lots of great videos, ministries and charities showcased there and I’ll be featuring those in the weeks to come.

What I, as a creative, took away from Catalyst this year:

  • Theme, Theme, Theme – It’s not a new lesson, but like most lessons worth learning, it’s always good to be reminded. Many of the big events (church or other-wise) that I’ve been a part of producing have had a theme of some kind. Most of those events didn’t follow through with the theme in any way beyond the graphics. This year’s theme was “The Tension is Good” – which upon first hearing, I thought was too wordy and thus made for poor branding. When I got there I realized that they followed through with this theme in many of the talks, the interviews and creative videos throughout the conference. From beginning to end we were being taught that ‘the Tension is Good’
  • Nobody’s perfect (I know, I was shocked too) If you’re like me you have to put many of the most important elements of church work in the hands of volunteers. Let me say that my volunteers are awesome and I literally couldn’t do what I do without them, but there’s a reason why calling someone a ‘pro’ is a compliment while ‘amateur’ is not. Generally we have at least one small but significant flub in any given worship service and sometimes it can be pretty frustrating, but take heart! There were several technical snafus at Catalyst, from feedback over the PA to totally wrong lyrics on the screens. I don’t know if they did it on purpose to make the rest of us feel better, but I certainly thought “you know, if these guys can’t get it perfect at this one event, I think I can accept a few mistakes on a weekend service.”
  • Content is King – I know this one isn’t new either, but Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson made a pretty good statement about this, he said “Good product is the new marketing – Good marketing just makes a bad product fail faster” In other words – if you don’t have content worth communicating, it doesn’t matter how cool it looks or how well stated it is, if you don’t have anything to say it’ll come through. My boss, Ken Roach – the communication director here says if he ever writes a book on communication it’ll be called “First, have Something to Say”  (© Ken Roach 2010) I think we need to make sure we’re spending as much time on our message as we are on our medium.
  • Lots of great ideas for creative elements – Videos, crowd participation and great sermon illustrations galore! One of my favorites was during Craig Groeschel’s talk he played a video of  ”An Interview With the Devil” which I think he may have done as a series back at life church.tv Either way, it was very funny and very simple. There are lots of great crowd participation elements at Catalyst every year. Like I mentioned, last year they handed out LED key chains (which are surprisingly inexpensive) when the lights get turned out, all the LEDs come flashing. It created a really cool effect. Our church is planning on borrowing this play in an upcoming series. There were too many great sermon illustrations to mention, you’ll just have to come next year to get the experience.

It was a blast! I can’t wait until next year!



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