Catalyst West Coast

This is a bit behind I know, but for my own benefit (and maybe some of yours), I’m going to recap the highlights of this sweet conference. In quick summary, the four of us at Catalyst left extremely inspired. Combining the best worship music with the top of the top Christian Leadership speakers, the conference proved to be more than we could have imagined.

Also, I’m not going to address every speaker and I won’t give the whole talk (even though I could – I’m an avid note taker). 

First (and probably what my wife was most excited about), Hillsong United kicked off the event. For those who haven’t heard of Hillsong United, make yourself a fan. They are as sweet of a worship band as you’re going to find. Plus, they include Brooke Fraser, who has really taken off as a solo artist and both Emily and my favorite songwriter. 

Hillson United

Hillsong United

Andy Stanley


Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley



Session #1 began with Andy Stanley, pastor of NorthPoint in Atlanta, Georgia and author of several books including Visioneering and Communicating for a Change. He also was the pastor at the Presidential Prayer Meeting (the day after Obama’s inauguration). I liked Andy Stanley before this event; now, he’s probably my favorite. Just a master communicator, containing an incredible ability to just talk and converse with the crowd while combining humor and depth. Unreal.

He addressed “Leading Through Times of Uncertainty.” As all leaders should know, the higher you go, the more complex your job gets and the more uncertainty you are surrounded with. We think: “If only I was the CEO…” but really, the problems, the complexities, and the uncertainties just grow. The key, during these times, is CLARITY & FLEXIBILITY. It is OKAY to be uncertain. It is NOT OKAY to be unclear. Maintain clarity in the midst of uncertainty. During these times, we need to maintain our clarity during uncertainty. Always retreat to the vision when things get murky.

Second, he reminded everyone that PLANS CHANGE, VISIONS REMAIN. Don’t fall in love with your plans and never promise that plans or decisions are sacred (how often do churches screw up with this!). Sometimes, we fall so in love with tradition, going to certain camps and making certain plans, that we refuse to change. WRONG. Plans change. Visions remain. What worked 3-4 years ago, may not work now. 

Guy Kawasaki ~ ex-Apple Executive






This guy was hilarious and brilliant. I won’t go into detail about his talk, but he really addressed innovation and how to be innovative within the church. The three highlights that stand out are: Church baby Church ~ Essentially, roll out versions. Don’t wait for perfection. You’ve got to put out version 1.0 before version 2.0, etc. Just keep pumping. As my mentor John Hogenson always says, “Just do something.” Don’t wait for things to line up perfectly. The second thing that stood out was Polarize People. When you create something great, you will polarize people. Some people will just fall behind and not understand greatness. That’s okay. Last, and I love this, he said Don’t Let The Bozos Grind You Down. Get rid of the bozos. Don’t let the idiots and the critical people grind you down. Okay okay, we’re all Christians and we should all be NICE. WRONG! We have a MISSION and with that MISSION in mind, don’t let the BOZOS get you down. Period.

Jud Wilhite (Central Christian) and Ravi Zacharias

Jud was solid, but I’m not going to summarize here. Ravi is highly, highly intelligent, but again, won’t address here. But I’m excited to read some of his stuff soon.

Brian Houston (Hillsong) and Nic Vujicic

Again, both guys brought their own thing. Brian Houston is a large man that leads a 20,000 person church in Sydney. He hammered home the idea of loving and building the CHURCH. Don’t be a church critic. Be a church builder. Nic is a man without any limbs (literally). He has quite a story and speaks to thousands of people a week. Incredible guy and very inspiring to see someone not beaten down by his situation.

Rick Warren

I was SUPER impressed with Warren. I though he was a big teddy bear and I was wrong. He really brought the heat! In an interview with Andy Stanley, Warren said some great things. First, he really called people to care about numbers. Why? Each number equals a soul. Also, he brought up how if we work with our minds we need to then divert daily physically. He’s a master of controlling his energy and managing that as opposed to his time. Also, he called people to never compare themselves except to Jesus. Period. While you should LEARN from everybody, you should never compare yourself. Focus on Jesus alone. Last and perhaps the best line of the week, he summed how Jesus called people to first “Call & See” and then eventually, to “Come & Die.” This was very challenging because that’s the discipleship process that I care so much about. The reason I work in youth ministry is to get people to understand that being a Christian is about dying for something greater than themselves. Period. 

Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel


Probably my favorite. I love this guy. Unreal. He’s tough and straightforward. He’s not the typical, safe Christian guy. I’m getting a bit tired of writing but another great line was “Don’t let creativity drive the Word of God, let Word of God drive creativity.” The Church should not be a safe place. It should be dangerous. The highest call isn’t to build the church. It’s to build the Kingdom. Success isn’t found in numbers. Success is found in the right people doing the right things. We want LINE 3 believers (People who love Jesus enough to give their lives to the mission). 

Francis Chan

Again, unreal. I love this guy as well and his book Crazy Love. Essentially, he called people to understand three things. Live and read exegetically. Meaning, don’t justify every action by just picking and choosing. Read the Bible and live it out. Period. Don’t say, “I can justify this by looking at this…” Instead, read it and live it. Also, he asked us to be BOLD. The church should have BOLDNESS in it’s mission. Last, he got people to understand that it is only through the SPIRIT of GOD that people believe. You either have that Spirit or you don’t.

Okay, I have homework to do, but this conference was awesome. Check it out for next year!

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