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What I Learned from Catalyst Conference 2014

Oh my.  

That's what I told friends and colleagues who checked in on me during my three days in Atlanta for the annual Catalyst Conference.  

I had been to one of the Catalyst One Day events years ago (awesome) and I listen to the Catalyst podcast each week (entertaining).  Still, I had never taken in the full experience at their multi-day October event held at the Gwynnet Center in Atlanta.  

Here's the 2 minute recap of the event:

Catalyst is, for my money, the leading Christian organization dedicated to leadership development.  Their series of conferences are quite simply outstanding.  High quality, loads of energy and tons of young(er) leaders.  

Some of my takeaways were as follows:

  1. Energetic people are fun to be around.  I met people from Canada, Hong Kong, Kentucky and everywhere in between.  Pentecostal, Evangelical, Episcopalian... pretty much every stripe of Christian you could imagine.  One person was nicer than the next.
  2. One speaker was better than the next.  From Andy Stanley to Carl Lentz to Matt Chandler- Catalyst brings out the A List of Christian speakers and they all rocked the house.
  3. Themes matter.  This year's theme was "Change Maker" and it was emphasized often.  Not corny, just effective.
  4. Food matters.  I didn't think that food trucks were exciting until I saw them pull up each day for lunch.  Sushi in Atlanta is delicious.
  5. Nothing tacky.  There were no plastic statues of Jesus for sale.  No glow in the dark rosaries.   Plenty of books for sale but nothing tacky.
  6. Humor is important.  From the Tripp and Tyler sketches to old fashioned humor within speeches, we laughed until our sides hurt.  
  7. The venue is important.  The facility was convenient, the seating was comfortable and there wasn't a bad seat in the house.  I'd say there were about 8,000 of us.  
  8. No holds barred.  One speaker after the next encouraged us and challenged us to follow Christ every day and to share the message of the Gospel with those we meet.  
  9. There's no substitute for high-quality music.  When Matt Redman is the equivalent to the "house band", you know you're in for a treat.  We sang and sang some more.  Every Catholic parish should send someone to Catalyst to see what a difference high-quality music makes.  
  10. My spirit feels new.  I'm coming back to Jersey feeling renewed.  You can't ask for much more than that.  

The only question I have is this- will you attend Catalyst next year?

 

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