Get Water for Your Birthday

Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water, spoke at Catalyst last week.  For those of you who might not know, charity:water is an organization that builds wells to provide clean water to people who otherwise drink the stuff you see at the right.  According to Scott, 80% of disease is related to unclean water and unclean toilets, meaning that providing people with clean water would be an incredible health revolution.

Scott used to be a club promoter.  Essentially, he threw parties for a living.  He began to fundraise for charity:water by throwing a birthday party for himself and asked people to bring money for clean water instead of gifts.  Then he decided to ask other people to pledge their birthdays to providing clean water to the 1/6 of the world that lacks it.

We were asked to take this pledge at Catalyst.  My birthday is a few weeks away, so I’m passing this year, but next year I plan to engage in some significant fundraising to bring wells to communities that need them, to provide others with clean water in the name of Jesus.  I haven’t completely decided where to set my goal, but I’m considering attempting to raise $20,000, to provide 4 wells to serve 1,000 people.

It might sound ambitious, but it’s nothing compared to the $2 billion that charity:water hopes to raise over the next 10 years.  $2 billion would provide water to 100 million people, or 10% of the population in need of it.

Will you pledge your birthday?

Human Cannonball – Catalyst 2010

In one of the crazier stunts I’ve ever heard of happening at a conference, Catalyst brought in world record holding David Smith, Jr. to fly through the air as a human cannonball.

Andy Stanley – Catalyst 2010 – Session 2

Andy Stanley is the lead pastor of North Point Community Church, a multi-site church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of numerous books and speaks often on leadership development.

If this is you’re first time here and you stayed for the last session, you’re the true leaders.

This has been an inspiring couple of days.  In the last session, we leave inspiration behind us and close with some really raw, practical leadership stuff.  This is where I get criticized by the bloggers.  There’s not going to be any verses or Bible stuff in here.  This isn’t the Sunday stuff.  This is the Monday through Friday stuff.  Here’s why I love this stuff.  I think the church should be the best organization in the city.  Business leaders should be coming to you for advice.  We all believe the same stuff and are moving in the same direction.  We should be able to do this.  The organizational side of your church should be extraordinary.  I love talking to leaders about this, and I think all truth is God’s truth.  In my final few minutes I want to talk about one thing as it relates to organizational culture.

If you can touch your thumb to your finger, you’re a primate.  You have an opposable thumb.  The reason this is important because you have doubts about your children, and when you go home, you can see if your kids and do this, and if so, they’re primates.  This has allowed the human race to progress in areas that the rest of the animal kingdom cannot.  This has enabled us to achieve progress that would be impossible otherwise, even with our brains.  With your thumb and forefinger, you can pick up a contact lens or throw a 90 mph fastball.

We are able to manifest just the right amount of pressure at the right amount of time, resulting in extraordinary process.  This represents something that always happens in your organization.  It represents pressure.  It represents tension.  Without tension, you cannot make progress.

Tension is a necessity for any organization that wants to make progress.  If you study organizations or you read about them or are around great leaders, you have a tendency to think great organizations solve all the tensions.  They don’t great organizations learn to use the tension for organizational progress.  If you do solve the tension, you lose something good.

  1. Every organization has problems that shouldn’t be solved and tensions that shouldn’t be resolved.
    1. Think about the tension between fulfilling all of your responsibilities at work and all of your responsibilities at home.  What would it look like to totally and fully resolve that tension.
    2. What about the tension between excellence and careful stewardship.
    3. What about R&D versus sales.
    4. The tensions between management and leadership, systems and flexibility.
    5. What about the tension for a preacher to go as the Holy Spirit leads or stop when the preschool volunteers need to leave
    6. What about attracting and involving unchurched people versus growing people deeper.
    7. Building a new facility or caring for the poor.
    8. Numeric growth or mature.
    9. These all represent pressure points and we’re tempted to try to resolve all of those tensions, but if you resolve any of them, you will create a harsher climate for getting things done.
    10. What if you opt for excellence, not caring how much it costs?  Don’t talk to me about budgets or line items.  What happens?  What happens if you don’t want to spend one unnecessary dollar?
    11. You end up trying to solve tensions that should not be resolved and wasting a lot of time.
    12. What happens if you’re all theology and no application.  You become Presbyterian.
    13. What if you try to let the spirit lead the service to the neglect of the children’s ministry.  You become Baptist.
    14. If you cut off your thumb, you immediately realize your progress will be impeded. If you’re in an organization that’s trying to always resolve all of the tension and are so conflict advers that everything has to be solved and resolved, that becomes energy to the progress of the organization.
    15. Progress depends not on the resolution of those tensions but on the successful management of them.
  2. What are problems that shouldn’t be solved? To resolve between problems that need to be solved versus tensions that need to be managed, ask three questions:
    1. Does this problem or tension keep resurfacing? One of the things that frustrates you as a leader is that people are asking the same questions three months later.  You’ve discovered a problem that shouldn’t be solved, you’ve discussed one of the keys to progress.  We shut down the last week of the year, so January is usually jammed.  Then we hit June and we wonder what the problem is?  Finally we realize this is just a tension to manage, not a problem to solve.  If there are things that just keep coming up, it’s probably a tension that needs to be leveraged for the progress of organizations.
    2. Are there advocates on both sides?  If there are people who are constantly at odds over the same issue and are people who are mature and you trust, chances are you’ve bumped into a tension you must manage.  There are folks who are always challenging us how to deal with new believers, how to mature them. We’ve got another group pushing for things to be simple. You know what, there are mature believers on both sides.  This is not a problem to be solved but a tension to be managed.
    3. Are the two sides of the tension really interdependent?  Going back to that work/home tension, if I worked all of the time, I would lose my family.  If I went home all the time, I would lose my job, and my family would kick me out and tell me to get a job.  That is a tension that will never, ever go away that you have to manage and results in progress at home and work.
  3. The role of leadership is to leverage the tension to the benefit of the organization. Create a third category.
    1. Identify the tensions to be managed in your organization.  This isn’t hard to do.  Now that you have a third category, this is not a problem to be solved or tension to be resolved.  Sit down and work through with your team members what are the tensions that aren’t going away.  What are the tensions that shouldn’t go away that we have to learn how to properly manage.  If you don’t identify these tension, you will spend hours trying to resolve problems that shouldn’t be solved.  If you are a peacemaker by nature, you will impede progress, make people happy temporarily, but will impede progress.
    2. Create Terminology – We use the terminology, “This is a tension we have to manage.”
    3. Inform your Core – Five years ago I read a book called Polarity Management on this topic.  He has a very sophisticated scientific diagram that was a bit confusing the first time I tried to work through it.  The first time I had a staff meeting to talk about it, I told them I didn’t really like this terminology, but there’s a third way.
    4. Continually give value to both sides. – Whenever there’s a conflict in your organization, you’re a leader, you have an opinion.  Many times we’re the one surfacing the conflict.  As a leader, your words weigh 1000 pounds.  My assistant gives someone some bad news, it weighs 100 pounds, as the leader, your words weigh 1000 pounds, so we’ve got to learn to speak value into both sides.
    5. Don’t weigh in too heavily based on your personal biases.As a leader my goal is to make sure that the critical tensions never drop out of site, because as a leader you can win the argument, trump all of the other tensions, and cut off your thumb. You’ll feel good about it, but you’ll have cut off your thumb. Understand the upside of the opposite side. Understand the downside of your side. Communicators have to learn to become the champion of the worship. Worship leaders have to learn to become the champion of the spoken word. If you’re the point person, you have to champion all sides. When we started the church we learned so much from Reggie Joiner. When we started North Point I was far more concerned with budget than environments. Reggie is an expert at creating irresistible enviroments, but they’re expensive. Everyone else is excited, but I’m wondering how much it cost. And my words weigh 1000 lbs. I still lean that way. But I had to learn to become a champion of irresistible environments, even though I’m uncomfortable with that. We wouldn’t be where we are today if I hadn’t. You know what, I’m still uncomfortable with them.  I’m so glad he had the patience and wisdom not to let me win those arguments too easily.
    6. Don’t allow any strong personalities in your group to win the day.  If your education director is a stronger personality than the worship leader and the worship leader folds under the pressure and everything seems okay, you have failed as a leader.  The goal is to maintain these important tensions.  I don’t know what your leadership team is like, but it’s probably like mine.  There are people who talk constantly and those who won’t open their mouth.  I have to shut some people up and force others to talk.  You need passionate people who will champion their side, but you need mature people who understand this reality. If you have somebody that just won’t let it go and can’t embrace this third way, you may need to move them out of your inner circle.
    7. Don’t think in terms of balance. Think rhythm. This is probably the most important of all.  There are times you need more music than preaching.  There are times you need more preaching that music.  There are times you need more stewardship than creativity and vice-versa. Leadership is far more art than it is science.  Balance means equal amounts of time, money, etc.  Sometimes you need more leadership than management.  Sometimes they need more theology than management.  Sometimes we need to build children’s space.  Sometimes we need to build orphanages.

As a leader one of the most valuable things you can do is differentiate between problems that need to be resolved and tension that needs to be managed once and for all.

Randall Wallace – Catalyst 2010

Author/director of films such as Braveheart, Secretariat, etc.

How would you encourage these leaders?

One thing I learned early on was the power of story.  One of the things I learned early on was that I had to be totally committed to the story.

Jesus was criticized for who he hung out with.  I’ve been criticized for hanging out with people like you.

Both of my grandfathers died before I was born, so I asked my father to tell me.  He said, one day when your grandfather was very poor, he went to work picking up these large blocks of ice.  The foreman walked up and said listen, I cuss at you to make you work.  So if I call you an SOB, don’t pay me no mind, that’s just the way I am.  My grandfather said, that’s fine, and if you call me an SOB and I hit you in the face with a claw hammer, don’t pay me no mind.  That’s just who I am.

That was enough to tell me who my grandfather was.  William Wallace paid with blood and tears before he stood out in front of the troops and gave his speech.  That’s who I want to be.

Secretariat is your latest movie about the greatest horse ever.  It’s the first story I’ve had where the hero didn’t die at the end.  I was at the movie in hollywood, and this woman tuerns to me in the middle of the race scene and says, he wins doesn’t he?  I told her, don’t you know all of my characters die.

It’s not just a story about a great horse.  It’s the story of a woman who says, it’s great if you like me, but regardless, I’m going to stand up and be who I am.

My mother died right before my last movie, We Were Soldiers, was finished.  I was worried about whether or not people would like it, and she told me, “Honey, if they crucified Jesus Christ, there’s going to be people who don’t like you.

One of hollywood’s greatest laws is that the audience just doesn’t get it, that we have to make it louder.  I once lost my job because I told him what people from the backwoods of the country that I am from think of him.  I wanted to do the story of Secretariat because it can inspire both children and grandparents.

I became a writer because I had stories to tell, and I think many of you can identify with that.  I heard a Russian proverb.  There are only three ways to walk.  To the left, the wolves will eat you.  To the right you’ll eat the wolves.  In the middle, you’ll eat yourself.

The great thing about the Christian faith is that if you turn and look him in the eye, maybe you won’t have to eat the wolf.  Maybe the wolf is your brother.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell a story I don’t believe in.

What do you want folks to feel as they walk out?

I want folks to feel affirmed that courage matters, hope prevails, and love wins.  And I want us to celebrate the joy in that.  The great thing about movies is they’re like churches.  It’s not meant to be done alone, but with others.

Craig Groeschel – Catalyst 2010

Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of His latest book is the Christian Atheist.

Brad asked me to speak about generational tension, a topic I wasn’t quite sure about. My wife left me with our six kids for the weekend. My 3 year old son told me that no one does their hair like that in this decade. I’m like, how did you learn the word decade?

The enemy wants to divide the church generationally.

Craig’s interview with the devil.

Are you on twitter? Yep

A lot of followers? Yep, although you haven’t started following me yet.

What are you during to hurt the church? Causing problems between ages.

How do you keep the generations apart? I throw in technology. I go with the LOLs and the RTFLMOs.

How do you isolate the younger generations from the older? The older generation is pretty easy. Take a guy who feels like he can make a difference and you’re like, look at that kid, you don’t have the goatee or the tattoo.

What else do you do with the older generations? The old way we used to do it is the only way. These seeker churches, they’re all going to hell.

What about the younger generations? It’s so easy. Who doesn’t feel like they have all the answers in their 20s.

What else? Play up the cockiness and ego. Skinny jeans. I’m just bringing skinny jeans in because they’re funny.

Division between generations is bad, but the tension can be good because we desperately need each other. We need both wisdom and passion. What I’m able to do today is because those in the previous generation believed and invested in me. I am standing on the shoulders of great men and women who have gone before me.

Honestly, God will often put people in your life to pave the way for full time ministry. I came to Christ in college and immediately felt called into ministry in the local church, but I had no idea what to do. My pastor who was in his late 50s told me I should bring all of my friends to church on bring-a-friend Sunday. And sure enough 40 hung over fraternity guys came with me. And everybody over the age of 112 was gasped. Then the pastor had everyone who brought someone remain standing and everyone else sit down. The 40 guys around me sat down, and the senior pastor said find that guy and hire him.

Nick invested in me, and that’s how I came into ministry.  He taught me how to do hospital visits, not to say, “Man, you look bad.”  He taught me how to preach.  Whenever you forget what to say next, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes.  I used to be so nervous before I preached I threw up before I preached.  I don’t do that any more, now I just throw up in my mouth a little bit.

He invested in me, and I am able to do so much of what I do because of the wisdom of those who have gone before me.

I want to talk to the older generation for a few minutes, and then I want to talk to the younger generation.

So let’s talk first to the older generation and have one thing to say.  I would beg you not to resent, fear or judge the next generation of ministers but to believe in them, invest in them.  Find as one of the greatest callings on your life to invest in them.  Those young guys are not on deck.  They are in the church.  I’m talking about 11 year olds.  Put them on stage and let them lead worship.  Don’t resent them.  They’re different.  Just like you were different.

One of the reasons the older generation finds it difficult to invest in the younger generation is because we feel insecure. When I turned 40, I began to wonder if my best days are behind me, if I could still connect with the younger generation. So you begin to lead from insecurity, you delegate tasks, creating followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders. Many older people don’t feel cool enough. You don’t have to be cool. You have to be real. The younger generation is craving someone who will be real, be themselves. There’s nothing worse than a fat 50-year-old preacher wearing skinny jeans. That is not of God. Just say no!

I want to tell the older generation, if you are not dead, you are not done. Your age and experience is not a liability. It is your greatest asset.

Lyle Shallor is a crazy man. He is one of the best church leadership consultants in the world. He is 87.6 years old today. He told me he peaked in his early 70s. Here’s what Lyle did for me back in the early years. We had three services, considering going to a fourth. Back then, no one did four services. He said to me, all you young guys are alike, you think too small. You should be thinking seven services at your first location and thinking about your second, third, fourth locations. He left me with a splitting headache. Now we’re in 14 locations with 80 services. Why? Because a seventy something hero who was peaking took time to invest in the younger generation.

We bring folks in their 20s to invest in and ask them to invest in our children. We brought in one girl in our 20s. And I could just feel her about to say, “You’ve been just like the older brother and sister I never had.” Of course, she said “mom and dad.” I’ve realized that one of the best things I could do at this point in my life is to be a spiritual father.

Psalms 71:18 – Let me live long enough that I may declare you to the next generation.  Give me a shot to live.  Let me live long enough that I could declare you to all of the people in the next generation.  They don’t know you like I do.  Give me the shot at the next generation.

Those in the younger generation, let me talk to you.  I love you and believe in you.

Dr. Tim Elmore said in his book that ther’e s agroup who did research on the younger generation of workers and asked employers what the number one word to describe them.  It began with “e.” It was entitled.  When the younger generation was asked what they thought the word was, no one came up with it.

It’s not your fault.  You grew up in an age when you had to wear a helmet to go to the bathroom.  We rode 18 people to the 7-11 in the back of a pickup at 90 mph.  You feel like things in ministry should come very easy to you. You tend to overestimate what God wants to do through in the short run.  When you don’t get it you feel disillusioned. You grossly underestimate what God wants to do through you in the long run.  You think in hundreds instead of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions.  Don’t underestimate what God wants to do through this generation.  Think bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger in the long run.

The problem is we think we deserve this and that.  The number one question Andy Stanley and I get at Catalyst One Day is what is your schedule like, which is stupid.  The second question, which is great, is how do you lead up?  I asked my pastor that, he said because you honor me.  The younger generation is one that does not show honor.  Andy Stanley says that honor publicly leads to influence privately.  You say, “they don’t get it.” No, they’re not your age.  They don’t get everything you do.  But I guarantee they see tons of things you don’t see.

Mark 6 – Only in his hometown is a prophet w/o honor.  It means to dishonor.  To treat as common or ordinary.  Some of you have been mistreating the spiritual leaders above you.  The text says that Jesus could not (not would not, could not) do any great miracles there.  Now theologically I don’t understand this at all, but the text says he could not do any greater miracles because there was no faith because their was no honor.  The reason we’re dishonoring those above is because Jesus is your homeboy, a 6 pound 8 ounce baby Jesus.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  When we truly honor him, we will honor those above us.  You want to be over someone, learn to be under well.

What does honor do.  The Greek word honor is time – to value, respect, or highly esteem; to treat as precious, weighty, or valuable.  Honor values, dishonor devalues.

You say, maybe I would honor my leader if he/she were more honorable.  Maybe if you honored them, they would rise to the occasion.  There is a big difference between respect and honor.  Respect is earned.  Honor is freely given.  There are some in the younger generation who need to repent because you disrespect the authority God has put over you.  Repent because you’ve been dishonoring.

I was called in to consult with the senior pastor and elders of a great church.  The whole time the elders were talking over the pastors.  They were expecting me to say something about contemporary services or multi-site or something stupid like that.  Always look at heart values.  Here’s how you dishonored him, you just kept talking over him.  The great news is, four years later that church doubled in size.  I think at least part of that is that they began to honor the person God put in leadership.

Be teachable, be willing to learn.

Let me speak as one who is in-between.

I honor those who are in the older generation.  I honor my mom and dad.  I want to honor Nick Harris, my pastor who took a risk on a 22 year old guy, who stood behind me when the board wanted to fire me.  I want to honor John Maxwell because he was a man who had a vision to invest in the next generation.  We are here today because of him.  I want to honor Lyle Shallor.  I want to honor Bill Hybels.  When you grow a church to 1000 in 2 years, it’s because he paved the way.  We can do more today because of those who have gone before us.

Younger generation, your down side is that you really are entitled.  You feel like you should have the same standard of living as your parents at the age of 25.  Here’s what I want to say about you.  You are the most cause driven, passionate generation in modern history.  You crave authenticity.  If you don’t go authentically, you don’t want to go at all.  You ache to make a difference.  You are the most cause driven, mission minded generation in modern history, and I want to say to you I believe in you.  If you will come under authority, you can be the greatest generation in modern history.  I feel called to serve you.  I believe in you.  There is kingdom greatness in you.  Not only do I believe in you and you believe in God.  God believes in you.  He chose you.  You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.  There is a future John Wesley and Bill Hybels and Christine Caine and Beth Moore in this room.  I believe in you.  Don’t you dare think small. There is kingdom greatness in you.

I want to kneel down before Christ and give him honor for who he is and what he’s done for me, forgiving me of more sin than you can ever imagine.  Taking a man who could never be faithful to a woman and giving him a wife and six children.  I want to give Christ honor.  And I beg you stand on my shoulders.

Combine the wisdom of those who have gone before and the passion and energy of the later generation.  Quit messing around in your arrogance and do something to change the world for Christ.

Reggie Joiner: How do we pray for you?  What’s next in your church?

We ask what we do best.  What we do best is give things away.  We’re trying to posture everything we do to serve the greater church.  One of the things I’m passionate about is giving the Bible away digitally through YouVersion.  If you e-mail me at, I’ll send you things to help you out with this.

Gabe Lyons – Catalyst 2010

We started this Catalyst thing 11 years ago. The first Catalyst took place in 2010. In the last decade, our culture has produced dramatic sea change. It’s nothing short of enormous. The first Catalyst happened pre-9/11. We must look forward and start to look at the things that are creating this change, if we are going to be on mission.

What is happening in this next generation and know how to equip and empower the next generation.

You have to understand this idea of postmodern. It’s a skepticism toward certainty. How can you possible know the way, the truth, and the life. When we approach that way, the walls start to go up.

You complicated that as your culture has become post-Christian. The church is no longer at the center of culture/life. The church is now on the sidelines trying to get in.

The last element is the idea of a pluralistic setting. Our country was founded on the idea of religious liberty, but the Judeo-Christian way of thinking has dominated the public square until recently. Today all faiths are celebrated, not just tolerated. Everyone is in the discussion about the future of our communities and cities. We have two choices. To react out of fear and try to win the culture war or understand that this is the new normal and understand how the Gospel can gain traction in this circumstance.

We’ve interacted with culture in a couple of key ways recently. To separate and just hang out with people like me. To fight the enemy when confronted. The other approach is to be cultural. To just become like the world. The label of Christian is just a cultural identity to get them through.

There’s a new story about how Christians are interacting with the world. We don’t really have language for this. It takes us all over the place. How does the Gospel go forward when we’re just running around doing good deeds. We’re not going to separate, although we need to be holy and pure. We’re not going to conform regardless of what the Gospel says. We’re going to come along and restore. One of the biggest questions we’re going to have to answer is to figure how the Gospel enters the world we’re in.

As we look back over the last century, our interaction has been understood only by fall and redemption.  We’ve missed creation and restoration.

Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration

Our good deeds have largely disconnected from the work for Christ, but the restorers have led us to understand that once we’ve been redeemed our role is to bring about restoration.  The Gospel is something that can be embodied and lived out.  Paul says that God gave to us the ministry of reconciliation.  This is the call of the restorer.  He doesn’t give up on the Gospel.  The restorer understands that first things are first things.  It’s because of the good news, because of the Gospel of Christ that we’re called to launch out into the world and restore.

These people aren’t offended by sin.  They roll up their sleeves and engaged.  They actually do something about it.  They don’t just critique.  They create.  They create culture, organizations, magazines, churches, schools.  They get involved.  The use their talent combined with the burden in their heart to be about the work of restoration.

The Next Christians are really recovering this idea of calling. That Christ might actually want to work through them to bring the Kingdom of Christ to come. As pastors there are tons of people coming to us struggling with meaning and purpose. They’re working their 9-5 to fund things that they feel like really matter. They can’t wait to plug in to do what they feel like Christ really wants to do through them.

We have to understand that every single person in our churches are out working in the world. No matter what they’re doing.  The people who are sitting in your church have felt like they’re showing up to serve the church.  The church must recognize that when we look out at the church, we’re looking at people who are already on mission.  You probably haven’t pulled them up on stage like the missions team.  You haven’t pulled up the teacher to pray for her because you’ve realized she’s on mission.

The heart of God is for everyone to understand their calling and mission in the world.  As we look back, we can see seven channels of influence.

William Wilberforce worked with politicians and artists to end slavery.  In the last 20 years the gay movement has had strategically placed leaders in media, business, etc.  But as you look at these seven channels, the only one bringing together the other six every week is the church.

Can we invert the model of the pastor looking out at the congregation that feels jobless, like they have nothing to do in the church, but inspire people to go fill the mission that God has for us.

We learned that our unborn daughter likely had Down syndrome. 90% of our unborn children who are determined might have Down syndrome are terminated because they’re unwanted. I grew up in a group with a separatist mentality, but when I wanted to address this issue, we raised some money and got a photographer to come in and photograph kids with Down syndrome so that people could see how wonderful these children are. We gave them to Ob/Gyns to give to their patients so they could show them to parents so that they could see what the lives of these children are like. This one little booklet we put together has been approved by the Ob/Gyn Association of America as the only thing to be given to parents. Sometimes you’re deep in the work of your calling and your calling finds you. We’ll find that part of our calling as Christians isn’t just to state the Good News but to embody it.

Isaiah 58:9 – You shall be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets to dwell in.

The next generation of Christians isn’t leaving your church because they don’t want to be Christians but because they want someone to come alongside them to help them understand what it is to be Christians in this world.

Perry Noble – Catalyst 2010

This is my “Oh Crap” moment because I’ve been coming to Catalyst for years and every year they start out with Andy Stanley, Andy “Freaking” Stanley. He has said some of the most brilliant things. The other year he started out with “Leadership is stewardship. You’re accountable.” Francis Chan, every time I hear Francis, I’m not sure I love Jesus anymore. He sold his house and is moving to India. Beth Moore, Beth Moore hugged me yesterday. All of these geniuses and Godly men and women who have spoken at Catalyst, why me? And God said, it’s about time for a dumb redneck to get up and tell people about Jesus.

1 Kings 17

My wife and I take 2 trips a year. We take a Presbyterian trip and a pentecostal trip. The Presbyterian trip is a family trip. So the Presbyterian trip means that everything on that trip is predestined before it happens. My wife plans it. Then there’s the pentecostal trip. It’s my favorite, because the kids don’t come on the Pentecostal trip. What about the Baptist trip? All you do is eat.

We went to St. Lucia this year for our 10th anniversary, our Pentecostal trip. I’m not a tour guide person. I don’t like to travel in group. So we hired a guy. He didn’t tell me he was going to charge me $200. He took us to the botanical gardens. I’m not a botanical gardens guy, but my wife likes them. This guy Gabriel came over to me to give us a tour of the gardens. He looks kinda funny. Our guide told us that he detected the smell of something funny on Gabriel… opium. So I’m with Gabriel, who’s named after an angel and is as high as an angel. I’m in a foreign country with my wife with a guy who’s hopped up on opium. This guy’s picking up plants, and I don’t know if he’s going to smoke it or talk about it. He had the biggest bag of weed in his back pocket that I’ve ever seen in my life. It could have serviced a whole Dave Matthews concert.

The whole time I’m following this guy not sure that I should be. I’m walking around scared because I don’t know if I’m in danger. Have you ever felt that way about God? If you follow God long enough, you’ve had this thought run through your mind.

I’ve been in ministry 20 years and planted a church 10 years ago, and I can tell you God will often lead you to places you don’t want to go but when you get there you’re glad they went.

Three points:


God sends ravens to feed Elijah. Have any of you in this room ever been fed by a bird? No. That’s miraculous. God supernaturally provided.

So he did what the Lord told him. That’s the best ministry advice I can give you. Do what the Lord told you.

Some of you have spent more time at the booths around this place than on your face before a holy God. Spend more time on your face than on Facebook.

Isn’t it easy to follow God when birds are bringing you food by a brook? All of us have had those moments at some points in your ministry. There are some Sundays you could go up and read a Dr. Seuss book and 15 people would get saved and raise $100k for missions.

In 6 months we went from 500 to 1600 years ago. And we still don’t know why. I’m not smart. I made a 790 on my SAT. I told this to Francis Chan the other day. He asked if it’s verbal or math. I said Francis, it’s the freakin test.

If something in our ministry is explainable, then God didn’t do it. If you can explain what God is doing in your church, then God didn’t do it.

But most of us aren’t wrestling with that, are we? Most of us didn’t get a call this morning from a guy to tell us that he’s loving his wife and has decided to start tithing 20%.

Things don’t always go well when we follow God. Sometimes desperation follows invitation.

I’m about 10-15 years older than my nephew, so I’m playing the game where you throw the baby up in the air. I never saw the ceiling fan… He’s fine. He just walks to the left and can’t say the number 3.

Doesn’t it seem like that in ministry? Some days God is throwing us up in the air and it’s like Woo Hoo! And all of the sudden it’s like du du du du du.

If you’ve been in ministry longer than a week there have been days you’ve driven by Home Depot and wondered if they’re hiring.

You know why that happens? Sometimes that happens to us because we’re following Jesus.

Verse 7 – Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

Don’t skip this verse. The brook dried up. If you’re Elijah are you okay with this? No, that brook was your source of water, refreshment, nourishment. Do you think Elijah started to freak out as he saw the brook drying up? Absolutely. He’s gettin’ his Chik Fil-A from the ravens and notices the brook dries up. Do you think he’s saying to himself that thing we always say but have trouble believing, “I serve a powerful God and am just believing for a miracle.” And one day finally he goes to the brook and there’s no water. Do you think he asked God why he let that happen? God, you led me here and this dried up.

That’s what’s happening in some of our ministries today. The brook dried up. You thought God called you and recently all hell has broken loose. You ask why God called you. Is your church plant failing? God, why did you call me here for this to happen?

Have you ever been at a place where the brook is dry? Here’s the beautiful thing about this story, most of us understand 1 Kings 18. Here’s what I believe with all of my heart. I don’t believe God brought Elijah to the brook to punish him but to prepare him for greater things that would eventually blow his mind. Because this is 1 Kings 17. But in 1 Kings 18, Elijah goes on top of Mount Carmel with the 450 prophets of Ba’al, and God burns up the prophets. And then he goes and prays for rain and God brings it, and God brings revival to the Israelites. And it was all done by a man who a chapter before who had been by a dried up brook.

So if you’re here today and the brook is dry, I believe with all of my heart that God is not punishing you. He is preparing you. Don’t give up when you’re by the brook.

I believe God had to teach Elijah something that he has to teach us as leaders today. Elijah believed that brook was his supply. God had to teach him that you don’t rely on that brook. You don’t rely on that brook because I am the grave-robbing, water walking God. When you’re by the brook, I always come through. Jesus was in the grave 3 days. Everyone had given up. They had all gone home. They had their committee meeting to decide Christianity was over. And then God blew the doors off the freakin’ tomb. When we’re by the brook. We don’t give up when the brook is dry.

My 3 year old girl is awesome. Charis loves to feed the ducks. We have a duck pond. But there are geese by the duck pond. These geese are mean as church people. We went there one day and my little girl is throwing bread while I’m holding here. And this goose goes crazy and starts chasing me. Now, I’m about 6’6″, 225, and running from this goose. I know God’s watching this with a sense of humor. “Look at that idiot.” I’m running from this goose freaked out of my mind like, I’ve got to protect my daughter. Then it hit me, Perry, you’re running from a goose. So I stopped right there and turned around and said, “In the name of Jesus, I will punt you.” You think I’m kidding. I did this. Some of you are animal lovers. You think I’m so mean… I will punt you too. That’s the kind of Jesus I serve. Some of you serve hugging Jesus. I serve the Jesus who made the whip in the temple.

I got in my car and drove home, and I’ll never forget thinking that night, “I ran from the goose…” Some of you are by the brook right now and you’re getting ready to run from the goose. You’re going to run from the situation that God reigns over.

A study came out that there’s a 10% success rate in ministry. They quit or get disqualified. You know why you shouldn’t quit? God reigns over your situation. Don’t you dare give up on the God who has never given up on you.

Tad Agoglia – Catalyst 2010

Tad Agoglia founded First Response Team of America, an organization that responds to natural disasters with heavy equipment needed to make a difference.

What’s it like during the first moments of a disaster?

These storms are deadly, and they’ll blow your mind first hand. Homes destroyed, people emerging from the rubble not knowing what happens. We’ve put together this amazing fleet of equipment that can do whatever is needed. If debris needs to be removed, we can do that. WE can power hospitals, extract people from homes, provide satellite communication. We bring order to the chaos when it’s needed.

You’re many times equipping and aiding first responders. I want you to tell the story you told me backstage.

A few days ago NC got hit by terrible floods and we needed up in a community where the emergency manager got stuck on a bridge. We show up unannounced and help out where needed. We had to go out in 70 mph currents to go rescue the guy in charge of responding to the disaster.

When you make a decision to do this kind of work, it’s not like deciding to get your real estate license…

I went to school to be a pastor, got a masters degree in theology, but didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I started a crane company. I became a millionaire at a young age but was miserable, wanted something more for my life.

After 9/11 and Katrina, I realized there needed to be more than food and water: specialized equipment and skills. So I put together this gear about 3.5 years ago. So We’ve been to about 25 of the US’s most major disasters and Haiti in that time.

We instill hope by opening roads, restoring power, etc.

A lot of people in this room have a big passion and vision, but there is fear and skepticism. You stepped into that and went ahead. What would you say to them?

I see a lot of young people around here. You are the future of this country and world. Don’t think you don’t have a purpose and destiny. Don’t be afraid to think you can make this world a better place. You have something to give. I gave my finances and the equipment from my company. Even if it’s as simple as kindness, you have something to give. I see life disappear in the snap of a finger every month. Make today count. Make it worth something.

I want to hone in on fear because you risk your life with the lives of your team when you go out. How do you balance that with passion and purpose?

It’s important to address your fears, but don’t let them hold you back because it can keep you from your destiny year after year.

How can people help you out with what you do?

Right now we’re looking for people to partner with us because it’s expensive. There are two ways to get involved, join our fan page on Facebook. Like it, spread it among your friends. Donate $20. If I can find 200 partners in this room for $5000, we will be able to respond to every major disaster in 2011.

Francis Chan – Catalyst 2010

I’ll be liveblogging Francis Chan‘s Catalyst talk here.  Chan was the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California and author of the wildly popular book, Crazy Love.

Jeremiah 9:23 – Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, the mighty man in his might, the rich man in his riches, but let him who boasts boast that he knows the Lord.

God wants me to brag about the fact that I know Him.

It’s amazing, but I speak to God in Heaven, and he listens to me. Nothing makes sense. God takes someone and He decides to bless him like crazy.

I hope you’re experiencing God’s blessing and are bragging about that.  My life is absolutely ridiculous, and it’s all about Him.  Are you blown away by the fact that God listens to you, that you pray and he answers.

This doesn’t have anything to do with my sermon, but I just wanted to share that with you.  I’m amazed by the fact that God listens to me and answers my requests.  God says to us, don’t boast about your might or wisdom but the fact that you know me and understand me.

I was thinking about this guy who was driving my cab a while back, and he’s muslim.  I just told him that I wanted to understand his faith, and then I started to talk to him about my faith and how God answers me and speaks to me.  And I asked him about his faith and if God answers him, and he says yes.  And here I thought I had this special relationship with God.  So we’re talking, and I go to another strategy, so we change topics.  I love this man’s honesty, this blew my mind.  You know earlier, I said that God listens to me.  He said, God hasn’t answered prayer like that in my life.  And I said, “Thank you” with a sigh of relief.

The Bible is clear that God doesn’t listen to everyone’s prayers.  1 Peter 3 says that if I don’t treat my wife with respect, my prayers are hindered. There are times I’ve realized God isn’t listening to me because of the way I’ve treated my wife, because of my doubt (James), because I’m not caring for the poor (Isaiah 58).  There are times when God says that he’s basically going to throw up at our singing, that He wishes we would shut the doors to the church because He doesn’t want our offering.

I think we often just assume things are good.  But I think there are times God’s not listening.

This is one of the craziest, maybe the craziest period of my life right now.

I started a church just over 16 years ago, just after I got married to my wonderful, amazing wife.  About 4 months ago I stepped down because I believed the Lord was leading me to something else, so next Saturday our family is leaving for Asia.  So my wife says, since we know we’re not called here, why don’t we just sell the house.  So we’re packing it up right now, and we’re leaving and don’t really know where we’re going.

It’s been awesome, you know, you pray “God send me anywhere” but you have obligations.  It’s amazing, now we don’t have any of those obligations.  It’s very, very weird, very amazing to be able to go anywhere and do anything.  I think God is having me go out there because I really want to learn about the stories of the Church going nuts in other places, of the thousands and millions coming to Christ.  And I believe what the Lord is saying, I want you to come back and think through how some if this can happen here in the States.

Sometimes I just want some simplicity.  Don’t you?  I just want to get together with some friends in my living room and just pray.  I’ve been longing for that recently, just to have friends come over and encourage me.  A time for us to just love on each other, to share what we have.  Let’s start making disciples.  We spend so much of our time as church leaders doing other things.  And I’m wondering if that’s possible.  I’m not knocking anything, because I really don’t know.  I might come back and just go do it all over again.

I feel like God is showing me something new, something like the early church in Acts.

My wife said to me that she was reading the Bible and everything we’re doing just seems perfectly normal.  This is what’s in there.  It fits perfectly.  I don’t understand when people don’t understand what we’re doing.

People label me and they say I’m radical.  If you put my story in chapter 12, James killed, Peter jailed, Francis went to Asia.  Whoa, he’s radical, he’s insane!  No, you’d just skip right over me.  Let’s get back to Peter.  If you put your life in this book, what is weird, the person who just goes and follows his calling and whatever else, or is it the rest of it that’s weird.

I was at Oxford and getting a church history lesson from this guy there.  And we learn that the church was a proponent of slavery and the crusades where people killed in the name of Jesus.  I was reading a book about Nazi Germany and this church where the people just sang louder to drown out the sound of the trains going by.  The guy regrets it to this day.

All of these things are so strange and we’re embarrassed at the church, but when people look at us, what is going to be the weirdness of our generation, because if I was in the middle of that, I probably wouldn’t see it either.  It was like the first time I said let’s look back at America, back at the last few decades, and what is the weirdness Biblically, and I realized, you know what?  A lot of what we do is very weird.  It does not seem congruent with what we do now.  Because if you read in the book of Acts that someone switched churches because someone was a better. communicator or music style or getting in a fight with one person, we say that person’s an idiot.

Based on Scripture, it was a brilliant thing that my wife said.  I want my life to fit in my book this day.

That’s the whole thing about James 5:17 isn’t it? Elijah was a man just like us.

I want to hit poverty theology real quickly, because I don’t want people to make excuses for not caring for the poor.  I have to admit, I’m pretty simple minded.  When people talk to me, that’s what they think.  I remember being in junior high and you start reading those short stories with symbolic meaning, and I just never got it.  Johnny was riding his bike and got hit by a car.  He died, I don’t get that it represents the death of his soul.

1 John 3:16-18 – When I read this, it looks like to me that the natural result of a person having the Holy Spirit in them is that we lay down our lives for other people.  If anyone has the world’s goods, they share with others.  It seems very natural to me that

Ezekial 3:49 – The guilt of your sister Sodom was pride and their failure to aid the poor and needy.  There are places where there’s no such thing as leftovers.  They’ve never thrown food away.  They’d think we’re a bunch of freaks, people concerned about weight loss.

Jeremiah 2:16 – He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well.

Matthew 25: 44 – Lord, when did we see you hungry, etc. and didn’t minister to you.  As you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me.

Again we’re judged on this.  This is natural to those who belief.  Could Jesus have said it any more clearly?

Luke 12:33 – Sell your possessions and give to the needy.

Luke 14:13 – When you give a feast, invite the poor, crippled, lame, blind…  Don’t just invite your friends, “no it’s my turn to pay.” No, when you have a feast, invite those who can’t pay you back.

PSalm 37:25 – I’m old and have never seen the children of the generous begging for bread. God just takes care of them.

Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him.

Proverbs 28:27 – Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Proverbs 21:13 – Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will not be heard.

James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before the Lord is this, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.

[Ed. Note – Most of these are heavily paraphrased.]

That’s the one thought I want to leave you with today.  I never wanted to be this author, speaker, example, whatever.  I’m no scholar.  Some of you guys are so far beyond me.  You ever been in one of those places where whoever you’re listening to is right, you’re just far over my head.  You’re smarter than I am, you’re more intelligent, whatever.  I don’t know how to defend everything.  All I know is that when I try to listen to what God is telling me in Scripture, when I made that turn in my life and said, I want to be like you Jesus, you’re my role model, I don’t want to care about stuff.  1 John 2:6 says I want to walk like Jesus walked.  All I know is the more I pursued that, the way God listens to my prayers changes.  My life is outrageous.  I don’t know of a happier guy on Earth.  It does just make me want to get up here and brag about him, boast about him.

I don’t claim to be an example because we’re all called to different things, but I’m just trying to walk by the Spirit, and pursue this thing.  My biggest fear was my 14 year old girl, the whole thought of how do I break this to her.  All you’ve ever known is this one little area of this city, she’s been my biggest supporter.  I get texts from her all the time.  You know that thing were you try to save your life you’ll lose it, but if you lose it you’ll find it.  I’m not talking about neglecting your family. I’m just talking about following the call.

I don’t know if you’re at peace right now. I’m so at peace I want to scream.  My life isn’t always like this.  I’m blessed.  It’s unbelievable.  But right now I just have so much peace.  But I’m guessing some of you are in the funk I was in a couple of years ago because I felt like there’s so much more.  I don’t have any tips for you.  But there are some people here to pray with you.

I believe so much in prayer that I don’t know I believe in anything else.

Beth Moore – Catalyst 2010

Beth Moore is a best-selling author and speaker.

Proverbs 3:21-26 – …For the Lord is your confidence, and he will keep your foot from being snared.

I was asked to speak to the topic of fear and insecurity, and it seemed odd to me given that I’d be speak to an audience with a lot of men. My son-in-law, a pastor, assures me men deal with that too.

The word translated confidence can also be translated security.

If I know anything, I know that we deal with insecurity. There are few things in the life of a leader that will trap us like fear and insecurity. Somehow this one we’re not trained to meet. This is the way that we trap ourselves, the snare we get ourselves into. It’s the one we set systematically for our very own selves.

Think through a definition of insecurity, “Inordinate self-consciousness, whether that’s positive or negative.” All of our self-loathing is just as prideful as our self-congratulation. It’s a trap of constantly being conscious of where we are.

We are self-conscious from birth. It’s something we continually fight. If we are going to be self-forgetful, we have to train ourselves to do it.

Our culture is preying on our self-consciousness. We’ve never had a world before that calls out our insecurity like this one. We’ve never had so many friends to risk being defriended by.

There’s instant scrutiny in our world. In any area of leadership, we are under instant scrutiny. If you’re in a speaking role, everything you said is all over Twitter or a blog immediately. There’s no more secret keeping because it’s going on instantly.

We have all become published authors through social media. The problem is we’ve been published without an author, and there’s no retrieving it or taking it back.

Everything is happening in real-time. I love this. It’s great. Twitter is one of the most fun things I’ve seen in a long time. But people are passing along information before internalizing it. You’ve got to eat the thing before you Tweet the thing.

We are passing off information and not absorbing it.

We need to have a word from God. We get in a trap of surrendering to a particular thing and that thing does not look like we thought it was going to. It never does. It never looks like we pictured it. God just wants us to follow Him. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. If you’re following Him, it doesn’t matter what that thing is.

I accidentally stumbled across a bunch of blogs that are critical of me a couple of weeks ago. It’s not just the bad press that makes us insecure. On your best day of leadership when you did your very best and everything came together, you have something come on you immediately afterwards that makes you think about how you can do better the next time.

That’s just our own insecurities. That has nothing to do with anyone else around us.

One of the greatest battles great leaders will have is the sense of being threatened. Can we be dead enough to ourselves to welcome what God is doing on planet Earth in whatever way He may be doing it. Biblically speaking, pride is the graveyard of all good leaders. Every time pride and arrogance overtake us. Pride is the graveyard, insecurity is the psych ward. It eats away at us.

If we don’t determine to die to that part of ourselves, it can turn itself into something our culture is mass producing in the tens of thousands, and that’s a full-blown narcissist. it’s the pattern of traits and behaviors that involve the infatuation with one’s self at the expense of others.

Don’t trick yourself into thinking that we don’t have people in Christian leadership who are narcissists. Most of us are nuts. We all have something. Something in our culture is tripping that insecurity switch in us.

God help us. God deliver us. Prov 3:26: The Lord will be your confidence and keep your foot from being snared.

Do you know that all of the time I spent in Proverbs 3:26 for a book I wrote, I didn’t look up that word security or confidence in the Hebrew. So I finally did.

here are the four synonyms:

  1. trust
  2. confidence
  3. folly
  4. stupidity

Trust and confidence in God, or stupidity in relation to evil.  Context determines the translation.  I began to look into where it’s used.   It’s used positively twice in Job, once in Psalms, and once in Proverbs.  It’s used negatively a few times as well.

Ecc 7:25 – To understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

We need to have a word from God. We get in a trap of surrendering to a particular thing and that thing does not look like we thought it was going to. It never does. It never looks like we pictured it. God just wants us to follow Him. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. If you’re following Him, it doesn’t matter what that thing is

What makes you think you can start something in the Spirit and end up in the flesh. Somewhere along the way we begin to lose our focus and the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus and are trying to make supernatural things happen with our natural hands, and it doesn’t work.

Our security is about as secure as a spider’s web. It will leave nothing but our own stupidity when we’re done. Sometimes you don’t just get the spider’s web but the spider with it.

I do believe in a real, live, evil force that is demonic. Satan, our enemy. He is real and will do everything he can to render you ineffective if not make you quit entirely. We better know who we are and who we’re not, how we want this thing to turn out and get ourselves pointed that direction.

The question today is not just do we have what it takes to start, but do we have the spirit that it takes to stay. I believe that a whole lot of leaders come to a place of deadness in our leadership, not over a quick death, but the slow death of discouragement. Know who you are, who you’re not, and what you want to be in the end.

A little while back I was going through a heightened time of public scrutiny. It always catches you by surprise. There’s always some of that, but every now and again it feels like there’s a “be mean to me” day. At the same time, I love the way God works, because we’ll be going through that but in another part of life, God will be doing something miraculous.

At that time, I was watching a loved one go through a sickness that was as close to death as possible and still be alive.

My sister and I suffered repetitive abuse as children. We were best of friends, but as happens so often when people come out of a situation like that, she fell into addiction. This, my best friend, my closest confidant, had been in rehab 15 times, ended up homeless. I had sleepless nights wondering where she was on cold nights. For some strange reason, it came the time where the Lord just picked her up and began to set her on her feet. Now she goes to work to help people who had been just like her.

We get so involved in so many things and we forget that we are miracle material. Our God really is an awesome God.