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Catalyst Update (Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel, Andy Stanley)

October 14, 2007

OK so I am a little behind on my updates. It took several days after the conference to continue processing what we saw and heard, but here goes. Make sure you don’t skip past the Andy Stanley summary!

Francis Chan

This is the first time that I had heard Chan and he was great! It was also great to hear a real deal preacher using the scriptures so powerfully at Catalyst. The main idea was that before we were born, God knew us and there are some specific things that God calls for only you to do. Chan shared his story of how he kind of lost his compass in pastoring his church and how God brought him back around.

Chan taught primarily from Jeremiah 1 and it spoke volumes to me. I had taken a Jeremiah class in the past so the passage was familiar, but it spoke to me more powerfully this time. It spoke so powerfully because God revealed to me during Chan’s talk that I had been afraid of attempting all that God had put in my heart. I will write more on that later, but here is Chan’s basic outline with my application.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Before I was born, God knew me and appointed me to start a new church community in Austin, Texas at this appointed time.

Jeremiah 1:7-8 “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

I am to speak that which God has given me to speak.

Jeremiah 1:17 “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.

I am not to be dismayed by those I am called to minister to.

And then for an extra measure of God’s confirmation that He was speaking to me through Chan, Chan read from 1 Corinthians 16:13 which says to “act like a man”. God has used this passage to speak to me many times in the past year in preparation for this new effort. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness.

Craig Groeschel (Practical Atheist)

This is the first time I had heard Craig speak as well and I liked him. His message was titled “Practical Atheist”. His point being that many of us in the ministry claim to believe in God but live our lives, practically speaking, as if we don’t. We often minister to others on the strength and gifts God has given us without relying of God through prayer and our connection to Him. In the past, I would have thought, “this won’t happen to me.” In a sign that God has been maturing me, my prayer during this session was, “God, please protect me from this.” I have become more aware of my frailty and dependence. Praise God!

Andy Stanley (Systems)

“There are organizational systems that are conducive to ministry and systems that impede ministry. There are systems that free leaders and systems that hinder leaders.” With those statements, Andy got my attention. Primarily because I agree and I desperately needed someone way ahead of me to dispense some wisdom and straight talk in this area.

Without removing the Spirit of God, Andy defined system as, “Your organizations approach to getting things done.” Everyone needs to get things done. We should do it well. If your staff and people are failing, you have a system problem. And since you might be in charge, it is your fault.

Here are two rules that Andy laid out for us:

  1. Systems create behaviors. Not talks and environments.
  2. The system that you create/adopt will eventually impact what your staff and volunteers do. Eighty percent of staff problems are system problems.

Five Components to Building Systems

What are our expectations of our people?


What is rewarded is repeated. What do we reward?
What are we accidentally rewarding?


What are the consequences of not meeting expectations?


What style and content are necessary to support the desired behavior?


How do we align the behavior of our staff so that they model the behavior?

According to Stanley, systems trump mission statements. “Statements are hanging on the wall, while systems are happening down the hall.”

This was a great wrap-up to the conference. It was a critically needed tool for helping to think about applying what we had learned and how God had spoken to us during the conference.

As I stated in the first post on the conference, I was not expecting much from the conference. Thank you Catalyst and speakers for exceeding my expectations. Thank you Lord for speaking to me clearly during my time in Atlanta.

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