Monday, November 24, 2014

Notes - #CatalystNext

We took a team of people to learn at the Catalyst Next conference last week at the Lincoln Theater in DC and it was a great time. I love the Catalyst organization and they always put on fantastic events. The audience was probably mostly people in full time vocational ministry and there were maybe about 1000 people there.

Our team was made up of adults involved in ministry bi-vocationally [board of director Matt, guide Carver and myself] and high school students - 3 seniors and one junior, two of those being current ProtoGuides and the junior being my older daughter. I'm pretty sure Ember had the only high school kids there. We also met up with some old and new friends - a leader of the young adult ministry at LifePoint Church in Reisterstown, and Ember guide Trevin and his co-workers from Bay Area Community Church. We all had lunch together which was a great time of connecting. Two of the seniors have some serious plans to join a church plant next year when they enter college as freshmen so the church planting roundtable was especially relevant to them.

The event wasn't quite as futuristic as I personally would have liked, but I realize that is sometimes too far out there. One solid principle about the future is that you imagine the future by seeing the present clearly and I think Catalyst Next did that extremely well. There was a little undercurrent of 'we have to explain what our current culture looks like to the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.' Certainly understandable.

Every one of the talks was excellent, exactly what you would come to expect from a Catalyst event. They were all geared towards what is next and I loved that. The day was organized into segments and then after each segment, Jon Tyson would come back with Mark Batterson, Jo Saxton and Gabe Lyons to do a little discussion on the talks.

Here is the rough outline of the day:
Mark Batterson - leadership [see below]
Jo Saxton - leadership [character, community, commission]
Gabe Lyons - culture [see below]
Trip Lee - culture [to give up hope on a specific culture/peoplegroup/subculture is to discount the power of the Gospel]
Jenna Lee Nardella - justice [the long arc of justice and sometimes you cannot make it rain]
Raj Shah - justice [lots of great content on global poverty]
Missional church planting roundtable - Jarrett and Jeanne Stevens, Gideon Tsan, DA Horton - what is your context, something you have learned from, what is next
Jon Tyson - closing [see below]

Here are notes from the 3 talks that resonated most with me:
+ What is Next in church leadership
Mark Batterson
“The greatest opposition to what God is doing today comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God was doing yesterday.” - RT Kendall The Anointing
Heb 11:7 - Noah, the ark and building something that was never built before
II Cor 10:5 - Take every thought captive and obedient to Christ
Noah - inventor, maker. Made the rake, hoe, oh and the ark.
1.5 football fields long
a ship that big would not be built again in human history until the late 19th century
35:3 design ratio is still the standard
569 box cars
125,000 animals - 60 National Zoos
120 years to build - long obedience
1st thing Noah did was to plant trees
It all came from an idea in his mind
Everything starts as an idea - so often II Cor 10:5 is used to instruct us to take bad thoughts captive, but it's also a command about good ideas.

Church is a 2 way street - dreams and passions go both ways
We have a dream for our church that people help us fulfil and we hopefully help them fulfill their dreams.

*TTS - Like always, Batterson gives a phenomenal talk about the future, leadership and the most audacious dreams and ideas. And every time I've seen Mark Batterson not speaking, he is taking notes. Including today, while on the panel. The best leaders I know do this.

Be a first class noticier
Scripture is meant to be meditated on - for it to quicken you, you must let it burn in you
Every piece of Scripture has 70 faces and 600,000 meanings - rabbinical saying

+ What is Next in engaging culture
Gabe Lyons
Context - always start with this
*TTS - ^^^ yes. Ember mantra - "Context and culture matter."

Today - the combination of postmodern, pluralism and postChristian
the nones

New Attitudes
No authority
Happiness is the ultimate goal
Good of the individual trumps good of community
God exists for the benefit of all, if He even exists
Meaning can only be found in this world

New Rules of Social Engagement - "Sex and the I World"
One may not criticize someone's life choices or behaviors
One may not behave in a manner that coerces or causes harm to others
One may not engage in a sexual relationship with someone without consent - as long as it is consensual, it is okay.

Countercultural - the church is called to swim upstream in this

*TTS - The intro to this talk was such a great description of the context that we find ourselves in right now.

4 questions - filter for culture
What is Wrong - stop and confront
who am I, what is my identity

What is Confused - clarify and compel
identity is found in Jesus, not by looking inside
is life about pleasure or purpose
love - affirmation of anything anyone wants to do or do we want the best for them?

What is Good - celebrate and cultivate
God's design for humanity is to flourish

What is Missing - create and catalyze
we have made an idol of marraige
first family - church family - extended family - oikos
clear and confident in theology
loving to friends and neighbors
you can be both but this requires lots of courage

The slavery and women in ministry issues both get more expansive from the OT to the NT
sexuality gets less expansive

*TTS - This was a fantastic talk and really engaged the issue of homosexuality and the evangelical Church. The 4 questions were great perspectives. Extremely well done.

Batterson - some topics are good for teaching about from up front - one way dialogue. Others need a two way conversation. This is one of those. NCC hosted a small group on this topic called Grace+Truth because we need both when it comes to this issue. Over 200 people showed up to it.

+ Jon Tysons closing talk
The need of the hour is to make disciples. If we get discipleship wrong, everything else goes awry.
Willard - what is your plan for making disciples and is it working?

We did a good job of forming people into Trinity Grace culture but not Jesus.
Our culture is incredibly effective at making disciples into its image.

"Ultimately, each church will be evaluated by only one thing - its disciples. Your church is only as good as her disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs, or property are; if your disciples are passive, needy, consumeristic, and not radically obedient, your church is not good." (Neil Cole) [*TTS - So good, I think I've posted this before somewhere here]

Faith to Doubt
Love to Insecurity
Community to Individualism
Contributing to Consuming
Rest to Exhaustion

5 Shifts - The From > To Imperative
*TTS - there was a ton of info in here - no way to get it all down.
Death -> Life
Eph 2
- gospel, story, walk

Shame -> Acceptance
Rom 8
difference between shame [who I am] and guilt [what I've done]
image management
Brene Brown
disciple people into their identity
- community, freedom, authority

Self -> Others
Phil 2
the small self - Rohr
- gifts, reconciliation, presence

Consumer -> Mission
I Cor 5
- sharing, vocation, stewardship

Performing -> Abiding
John 15
- source, power, fruit

In all of this, Jesus says, I will be with you always.
Gal 4:19 - My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you...
an urgent heartbreaking pastoral concern - spiritual fathers.

*TTS Right before Jon started, I whispered to our team that this was the money talk. I was right. Jon's talk was a powerful exhortation to leaders to take the issue of discipleship seriously and to evaluate how we are growing people and whether it is working or not. He has obviously done some deep thinking about our culture and what it means to grow people in the image of Jesus and his talk was a gift. I knew it was going to be good because I've learned a lot from him from a distance. [See : City Collective, the city parish model and Sacred Roots.]

+ My Reflections
- I'm pretty sure Ember had the only high school kids there. If you are a student pastor in the DMV and knew about this event, you should have brought some kids you were personally investing in. And if you aren't personally investing in any students, well, you should find a new line of work. This was a great learning experience that was easy to execute.
- Jon Tyson's closing talk. Ember needs to evaluate all of our experiences and reflect on whether we are creating disciples of Jesus or just creating kids that know a lot about global missions. Some of this is also a reflection on my leadership and whether I have the capacity to even think deeply on this subject and how it relates to the students we are entrusted with, in a similar manner to the deep thinking that Jon Tyson has done about discipleship in New York City.
- Batterson: "Church is a 2 way street - dreams and passions go both ways." I love this and Ember is really trying to engage our students with where we are headed as an organization as well as catalyze the passions, talents and dreams of them. We aren't doing the latter a ton but there were definitely a few students this past summer that fit this description. That's why we almost always visit the topic of missional imagination when we decompress an event or experience. I'm a bit sensitized to this too from some recent ministry experience as well so there's probably more in this.


  1. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Great notes! thanks so much for posting these. loving reliving the conference.

  2. Thanks for commenting and reading!