Over the past three days, I have been in Atlanta surrounded by thousands of other believers experiencing everything from acrobatic stunts, to the filming of a Dorito commercial, to hearing powerhouse speakers, and glorious worship. I have been at the Catalyst Conference. But calling Catalyst a conference is an understatement. According to them:
“Catalyst is way beyond a conference – it’s a powerful convergence of next generation leaders. It’s a fully immersive learning, worship, and creative experience loaded with the high-octane energy of thousands of like-minded leaders gathered together to exert influence in our generation. And once you’ve been exposed, you’ll call it what we call it – pure leadership adrenaline.”
I was immersed alright and had an experience I will never forget. I hope to come back for many years but in the meantime, here are my Favorite (Catalyst) Things:SoChurch. Okay, I’m biased, yes. This church-changing communication solution is my husband’s company, but still. I worked the SoChurch booth at Catalyst and was able to speak with lots of pastors, ministries, and organizations. The thing I loved seeing was the idea light bulb go on when they got it. SoChurch is a streamlined, sleek, communication platform that allows churches to effectively broadcast a message to everyone once. It utilizes the best of web, social, email, and mobile. I am no techie, and yet I understand and appreciate the need for an application like SoChurch. I had fun casting the vision to others and sharing with people about this revolutionary solution for churches.
Meeting some of my blogger idols. As a blogger, I have to read and follow other bloggers. They inspire me and give me direction. I can look at their blogs and say, ” That’s where I’d like to go.” Wednesday night at Catalyst, the gracious and lovely Alece Ronzino, of Grit and Glory, extended me an invitation to attend the Blogger Meetup. I was able to introduce myself to some of my blogging heroes, like Scott Williams and Bianca Juarez. I shared Modern Reject with other bloggers and was able to ask them questions. It was like an all-star blogger event. I felt a little out of my league, but was so grateful and thankful for the chance to be a part of the evening.
Worship. There is something so cool about corporate worship. I have never worshiped with 12,000 people. Let me just say, once you do it is hard to experience worship in any other way. 12,000 attendees filling an arena singing in unison. It is a glimpse of the saints singing God’s praises in His throne room. It is, I believe, a taste of heaven.
Great Speakers. Catalyst 2010 is my first Christian conference. So it follows that never before have I seen such an impressive lineup of speakers, from Michael Hyatt to Seth Godin to Beth Moore. The teaching, leadership training, and vision casting is simply inspiring. It gets my Jesus juices flowing, so to speak. I feel a new surge of commitment to both my faith and the body. I want to run out and do God’s work in more heartfelt and powerful ways.
However, my favorite speaker of all was the indelible Beth Moore. I was first introduced to Beth Moore and her Bible studies about 5 years ago. Since then I have enjoyed watching her on a screen, either in a friend’s living room or in a mom’s Bible study group. I smile at her Texan accent and (in her early years) big hair. I relate to her vulnerability and am moved by her obvious humility. But more than anything, whenever I have heard her teach on that TV screen, I have sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit and watched a woman anointed to teach, step into her authority. Seeing her in person was no different. She taught with power, grace, and love. She started her time by praying and asking God to show up and He did.
Atlanta itself. I had never been to the ATL before Catalyst and I have to say that I really like it. It is so green, pretty, and diverse. Atlanta also has a Southern hospitality feel. Everyone is a bit kinder, gentler, and more patient.
New friends. I had the opportunity to meet people that I have communicated with on Facebook and Twitter, in person for the first time like Beta Christian, a long-time web friend. My so-called on-line friendships suddenly moved into real-life, in person friendships. It was so fun to see people face-to-face not just on a computer screen. More than that I was also able to make new friends like Tiffany and Toni from Rent My Church, two of the coolest and funniest ladies I have met in a long time.
Catalyst is a really big conference, the largest Christian conference in fact. I started the conference feeling a bit overwhelmed by the scope and size. Thousands of people rushing here and there. Crowds, lines, and many unknown faces. But as the days went on, those faces began to look more and more familiar. I recognized individuals from chatting them up while grabbing a coffee, or having met them at a blogging event. Slowly I realized that while the Christian community is expansive, at least that which is represented at Catalyst, we really are all connected by our belief and trust in Jesus and Him alone. Catalyst reminded me that even when the Church as a whole feels too large to grasp or connect with, it really is possible.
What have been some of your favorite Christian conferences, events, retreats, or camps? What are some of your favorite memories from those unique times alongside many other believers?