The second and final day of the Catalyst conference was just as amazing as the first. I just cannot believe the continued caliber of excellence, impact and power of this entire conference!
Daniel and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night… 4.5 hours. Me, because I was up blogging about the conference yesterday. Daniel, because he drank a coke too late in the day and was wide awake.
Once again I had to drag my son out of bed for his free waffle before we headed out. This time we left half an hour earlier, which meant we got to the stadium half an hour early.
Even though neither of us was very wide awake, Catalyst took care of that. As soon as we walked in, we noticed massive balls being bounced all over the auditorium while a band was playing blaring music from the stage. It was 7 hours before my brain normally wakes up in California and here I was being bombarded by sound and sight.
If you can’t see the balls, here’s a picture that can make it easier. I’m pretty sure I missed a bunch because there were many black balls bouncing around too, but they kind of blend into the background. Just imagine many more bouncing all over the auditorium.
This time the ushers had little blinking light sabers that flashed different colors. Maybe these things are designed to artificially stimulate the brain to wake up for non coffee drinkers like me.
I could see the blinking all the way from the other side of the stadium. (I left the pictures dark to show the glowing sticks better.)
Today I sat like maybe 200 feet away from the stage? Not so good with distances. I was about halfway up the upper tier on the lower level.
The band was crazy good. The apparently played a lot of oldies, as people were holding up their cell phones and swaying to the music. One person even played a super crazy guitar solo behind his back. I couldn’t believe it. (This picture also shows a black ball bouncing across the stage.)
There was also a Stomp-like intro, with a guy playing on a large booming garbage can.
Then he was joined by another guy, playing a bucket that sounded higher in pitch.
Pretty soon more people joined and there was a drum concert on stage.
Then one guy picked up a plastic cup and a stick. We all had a plastic cup and a stick at our seats too. We did a call response sort of thing. Except you’d never find this kind of call and response in a traditional service!
It was kind of hard to get a picture of everyone pounding their cups but you can see a little bit of it here. It was kind of dim in the arena.
After that, trampoline artists!
On both sides of the stadium! (Synchronized, too.)
Then on snowboards!
Every time you think something is totally outrageous, it just keeps increasing.
In case you didn’t notice, in the photos above the band is also suspended in the air playing their instruments. Here’s a closeup. Three guys — one on the left holding the bass, guy in red pants in the middle, and guy with yellow guitar on the right.
After that they interviewed Ted Agoglia. I didn’t get any good pictures because I realized our seat was not a great position — the video crane kept obstructing my pictures. I would have to wait for it to move away. But on interviews where people just sat there, the video crane just parked there.
Ted started an organization called First Response Team, which provides relief in emergencies before traditional relief services arrive. Outside the arena they had big impressive looking equipment. Inside, they powered up the hovercraft for us to see. This picture was taken all the way from the direct opposite (we were on diagonal corners) of the arena.
They have over $1 million of specialized disaster equipment. I’m sure working with this organization must really appeal to guys, from those who go and support victims to mechanical engineers like my husband. I was pretty impressed by their commanding, masculine branding. Simple but effective.
(Spoken like a true graphic designer. Oh yeah…and what they do is pretty cool too.)
During the interview, all of a sudden there was an interruption from above. Tripp and Tyler (two of the comic relief/announcement people) dropped in from the ceiling.
Well that’s one way to end an interview. Perhaps I should employ this in the future if I have to interview anyone and it goes bad. It sure beats a hook from the side.
Then Perry Noble spoke. I have heard about him for years but never heard him speak. He is hilarious! He gave a powerful message about how Elijah was fed by ravens and drank water from a brook until the water dried up. When the brook dries up in our lives, God reminds us that He is our sufficiency rather than relying on the brook.
Here’s a picture of Lannie Donoho (he’s the really funny one), Reggie Joiner (he does the Orange Conference), and Brad Lomenick, the head dude over all of Catalyst. I listen to the Catalyst Podcast regularly (er… I’m a little behind. Only like 6 months behind…Too hard to find uninterrupted time to listen so it takes me a while to get through my list… I’m sure I’ll catch up to this week’s podcast… 6 months from now.). Now I have a face to imagine.
The Gungor band played. The music here has been amazing but I am behind the times. I think I only knew like 4 or 5 songs out of maybe the 20-30 that were played for the whole conference. (Well I don’t know if it was that many, but it sure seemed like it!)
Gabe Lyons spoke about the church in our current cultural context. Fascinating how our culture has changed so much and how we have to rethink how to reach a post-Christian culture.
We also got a free book about Generation iY, kids born after 1990. Daniel has already read like half the book. I have read all of 5 pages… while stuck in traffic in the parking lot. Ah… to be a kid again and have more discretionary time. But I’m glad I have something to read on the airplane!
Craig Groeschel spoke. As usual, he hit it out of the park addressing the tension between generations and talking to first the older generation and then the younger generation. I wonder which one I am? Age-wise maybe older, but maybe younger, and definitely “young” in terms of how many years in vocational ministry.
That was the morning.
And now a commercial break.
Today my friend gave us VIP passes. Daniel was so happy. He has never had a VIP pass before and wore it with pride.
During break, we hung out with my friend Rod, who I met many years ago when we were training to lead the Leadership Conference. It was great to catch up.
At lunch, I also met my sister Corrie’s friend Michele, who I found out reads my blog! (Hi, Michele! A shout-out for you!). She found Daniel and me eating and came up and introduced herself. It’s funny what a small world it is.
Lunch was very nice — we had a pass to the Monvee tent.
If you are a Christian interested in growing spiritually, especially a church leader, you need to check out Monvee. It is a tool for personalized spiritual growth and it is the coolest thing I have ever seen that develops a personalized spiritual growth plan for people. I also heard today that it is now available for individuals, which was not true last year when I was checking it out. It’s $20 for a lifetime!
I also got a chance to wander around upstairs. There were exhibitors there too.
I thought the bistro tables and chairs they had looked really cool. I’m sure these must be pricey.
A gobo projected an organization’s logo on the wall. Cool! Love all the creativity around.
Andy Stanley was saying Reggie Joiner has a gift for creating inviting environments. That ethos is definitely carried into this conference (no idea if Reggie actually does the environments though). The whole environment at Catalyst is designed to engage and stimulate.
The organization, Last Letters, had bank of computers for interactive displays. And I thought our home office looked techy. This looks techy and classy. (Their website is very cool too. What a powerful purpose this organization has and such a creative way to engage people in it!)
Ironically, where was this wonderful display of a Christian organization located? Right under this sign… in the bar!
Love how God can redeem anything!
I was passing by a window and caught a glimpse of this — part of the hammock yard. What cracked me up was the Chick-Fil-A cow, walking back and forth among everyone. (It’s the middle of the picture over by the red truck… kind of hard to see in the photo.)
Daniel and I walked out to get a Starbucks. What was this? A long line! To what?
It was the Chick-Fil-A tent! Guess the cow worked.
I’ve never had a Chick-Fil-A sandwich before. I hear they are delicious. (Random musing that has absolutely nothing to do with the conference. Just gives you an inside glimpse to how my brain works. Now what was I talking about again…? Oh yeah!)
We passed large letters. No way we were going to forget what this conference was called. However, yesterday somebody had rearranged the letters so they read “ALY CATS,” with the extra T dragged off to the side and left for dead on the ground. Looks like somebody came and fixed it again for today. I wonder if the custodians go around at night and shake their head and rearrange all the letters back correctly and say, “They just don’t pay me enough to do this…”
My backpack was too heavy for me to make it all the way to Starbucks (.4 mile walking). I stopped halfway and rested under a tree while my athletic son jogged over and got us both a drink. I should weigh by backpack. It had an iPad, keyboard, SLR camera, small zoom, large zoom, Bible, cables, conference notebook and materials and other stuff. I felt like I was lugging around Prometheus’ rock that he had to push up to the top of the mountain. (A Greek myth, for those who don’t recall.)
On the way back, I got a chance to photograph the entrance. Wow! Like I said, everything is over the top. They thought of everything.
I really love how Catalyst mobilizes people to give, support and live out our calling to make a difference in the world. They collected blankets and socks as well as gift cards…
… and also canned food. (Cool graphics too!)
The arena was pretty full at 1:45 when we were supposed to be back. They said, “You won’t want to miss it. If you don’t get back in time you will regret it. We can’t tell you what is going to happen, but be sure to be back at 1:45!”
So, being rule-abiding people, we were back before 1:45. On our chair was a rubber band ball. What could this be for?
And at the side of the arena was a big net. Uh oh. This did not bode well. There were already so many over the top things happening. I just couldn’t imagine what they were going to do next. Were we supposed to toss our rubber band balls into the net?
Well, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, because first of all Randall Wallace came on stage! (He was preceeded by Lannie, with red and blue war paint, riding a donkey into the stadium and giving a rousing speech with a Scottish accent.) Randall Wallace was writer/producer/director for movies like Pearl Harbor, The Man With the Iron Mask, and Braveheart.
Today his new movie, Secretariat, opens. The emcee told us it is a big deal that he was here on opening day with us! Man, I so love that there is a committed Christian in Hollywood. We have such a need for redeeeming movies that bring hope and inspiration, which is what he said this movie brings. He said that Secretariat is a movie that a little kid and grandmother can go see together. It looks really good. I really want to see it! It’s “my” kind of movie. Nobody dies. (I avoided Titanic like the plague.)
Then after that, we discovered what the rubber band ball was for. We all shot rubber bands into the air — an illustration of the release of tension.
Well, it was quite underwhelming. Plop, plop, plop, little rubber bands sprinkling the air.
So, to make up, here was a major example of shooting something into the air — a human cannonball!
I’m so bummed I didn’t write the name down but the guy holds the world record for… distance, maybe? But he had never been shot indoors before. And he had never had to go over two metal beams and under another one. It was a very tense moment as everyone was silent, waiting for the cannon to go off.
He sailed across the auditorium and landed in the net! Here he is, falling into the net. It was right on! You can see above the smoke coming out of the cannon on the left, partially obscured by the metal struts.
The crowd cheered wildly.
Afterwards, T.D. Jakes gave an outstanding talk about moving out of our comfort zone. It was a great challenge to leaders to trust God as we step out in faith. He asked if we are going to soar like eagles or jump up three feet like chickens and fall to the ground.
Fly like eagles, of course! Everybody!
During the break, this man gave the most amazing beboxing demonstration I have ever heard. Not only could he carry a drum beat, he could also talk at the same time while the beat was going on. It was so incredible.
Michael Jr, a comedian, was utterly hilarious! He has made a movie about how he went to prisons and homes for abused children and brought hope and life to them through the power of comedy. Through watching this movie, people have been mobilized to go out and serve the world.
It is so amazing the different ways that God uses people in so many places to reach and impact people for Christ. That just fires me up!
Then, an impromptu moment — a spoof of “We Are the World,” with lyrics changed to “We Are the Christians.” (I think it was impromptu because people were reading papers.)
Closing message by Andy Stanley — managing the tensions as a leader. I heard this talk at the WillowCreek Leadership Summit but it was worth hearing again.
They’re pretty smart that know that people will leave as soon as Andy’s done. So, Andy finished his talk and just said, that’s it, goodbye! And that was that!
Off to the parking lot where we were stuck for half an hour in non-moving traffic. We might as well just have hung out and waited. Catalyst volunteers were going around cleaning windows. What a great idea! Added a fun spirit to the pain of gridlock.
It was totally an awesome conference. Daniel said he has never had to think so much in such a short time — it was kind of content overload for him but there is a lot to chew on and we have had amazing discussions.
I took a lot of notes to go home and process and many things were clarified for me. I felt like God showed me many things and reminded me of his power and glory while directing me in ministry leadership. There’s a lot to think and pray over!
Daniel and I managed to get one picture together. Yesterday I saw some people with SLRs so I was looking for someone who might feel comfortable taking a picture with my camera. But, no luck. A nice man took a picture of us. Here’s how it ended up.
I was so bummed with myself for not checking the photo carefully — Daniel’s eyes area all closed. But after cropping, it still looks fine. We’re even color coordinated. (Unintentionally. Apparently matching clothes in the teenage world is a major faux pas.)
Daniel and I discovered a Thai restaurant across the street from us so we went there for dinner.
Environments. I’m fascinated with environments. This one is one of the better ones I have seen for a Thai restaurant. No creepy statues. (Forgot my camera. These are taken with my iPhone.)
Interesting metallic fish above my head.
Daniel’s side had cool metalwork on the booth.
My favorite Thai food — Pad Thai. It was delicious! It was the first time Daniel had eaten it too (without peanuts). He loved it!
What a totally wonderful conference! We both want to go home but are here til Sunday (needed a Saturday night stay for our frequent flyer tickets). Tomorrow is sightseeing and homework and Sunday we are visiting North Point Church. Then home we go!