I love sitting in the front row, or 2nd row as was the case this year, of Catalyst, to get close to the action…
Catalyst is about bringing together next generation leaders to encourage, challenge and inspire them to be the leaders God has called them to be. Catalyst is also good about bringing in great worship leaders and artists. This years was no different, with artists like Gungor, All Sons and Daughters, Carlos Whitaker and Propaganda.
It was fun to see what kind of photos I could get from my seat. Especially since there was no pressure to produce. I could choose when and if I wanted to take photos. Take a look at a few of the photos that got…
All were taken with the original Canon 5d, no flash with minimal adjustments made in Lightroom. Taken with either a fixed 200 f 2.8 or a 50 f 1.8
Michael Gungor, namesake, producer and leader of the band Gungor
the final session at catalyst featured randall wallace. he wrote the movie braveheart.
on one of the first takes, with 7 cameras rolling, mel gibson’s character, william wallace is addressing the men of scotland who are about to fight…randall said the vibe was electric, and that you could hear a “pin drop” as william wallace was talking to the men. when william asks them “will you fight?” all of the men yelled “yes!” they were fired up! cut! the men were so fired up that they forgot that they were to say “no, we will run.” he said the funny thing about that was the day before all the men, who were extras, were dressed up as english soldiers filming the other side of the scene
this years theme at catalyst was “take courage”
as ive had some time now to reflect and process this year catalyst experience, the message of william wallace has stuck with me. the question he asks the men of scotland, “what will you do with (your) freedom?”
am i willing to die for the Jesus?
we have the freedom to worship Christ without fear of persecuion or death in the usa. praise God for that. the above photo is whats left of one of the first christian churches in oaxaca. its located in an town called San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya. the locals werent so welcoming of them and burned the church down with the pastor inside. this is in the 60’s, as in 1960’s. so this is recent history. it made me think…not only about my willingness to die for Jesus, but about why i was in mexico. its to help spread the Good News of Jesus, using the gift of photography. we have freedom…do we have the courage to die, as the pastor did in mexico and as fellow believers do today in china and other countries that persecute christians…
while i recognize that william wallace is not being persecuted and killed for his faith in Jesus…it works as a reminder of those who have been persecuted, tortured, and killed for confessing Christ.
“freedom” isnt free! it comes with a price, blood was shed. be it the blood of the patriots, veterans who defended our country or the brave men & women of our armed forces today…Christs blood was shed on the cross that we might be freed from the bondage of sin.
william wallace prays in the cell “im so afraid. give me the strength to die well.” in the end, dont we all want to die well and hear God say “well done good and faithful servant.”
this is the 3rd year ive been to catalyst west. every year is different, and unfortunately my catalyst friends from the great northeast couldnt make it out this year. i met dave & dawn kinsman at the 2009 edition of catalyst. it was a blessing to meet them and our other catalyst friend nick person that year. nicks wife gave birth last year to their first child, so he couldnt make it last year. and now, its just me…and several thousand other folks from all over the country.
me and rick
i saw rick warren wandering around catalyst during the lunch break. he was taking photos and saying hi to lots of folks. so when he saw me he said “whats your name and have you hugged a pastor today?” i said “im brotherjoe and no…” he proceeded to hug me and came and sat down for a few minutes with some new friends i met.
eddie, rick and ron
eddie and ron are pastors from norwalk, and after being hugged by rick, we started talking and rick told them he used to pastor a small church in norwalk, and married his wife there. of course they were surprised.
rick went on to tell a story of how they started an outreach to the gangs in the neighborhood…he got the church to buy $18000 worth of olympic weights and they took an old house and turned it into a gym. the guys from the neighborhood would come, work out for 45 minutes then would sit and listen to a Bible study for 45 minutes, then work out for 45 minutes more. they had contests to see who could lift the most and it kept them from fighting each other. that year rick said they baptized over 200 guys!
ive had the opportunity to be around some high profile pastors over the years, but ive never met a pastor who was more personable than rick warren. i actually met rick last year at catalyst, and he gave me a hug then too!
im still soaking in what ive heard today…will share more later
last year at catalyst west 2009, i met up with some wonderful people. dave & dawn kinsman from milwaukee and nick person, from atlanta. we ended up sitting next to each other in the front row, and spent the next 2 days hanging out while at catalyst. we had dinner at the end of catalyst at lucilles bbq, great joint!
lucilles bbq 2009: a quick pic. the food was calling out to us!
nick and his wife are expecting a new addition to their family, so he wasnt able to make it out from atlanta this year. we missed him and look forward to seeing him soon.
it was certainly a blessing to get to know dave and dawn better. it didnt seem like it was a whole year since id last seen them. part of the fun for me was being able to get some fun pics of the 2 of them along with some pics with some folks hanging around catalyst this year. take a look
dave & dawn, at mariners church, site of catalyst west 2010
dave met some guy named rick who was there to support his wife, kay, who had spoken at catalyst
what was cool about the above pic is that rick had just rolled up to catalyst…he said hi and gave kay a kiss and started saying hi to those who were waiting to talk with his wife. he shook hands and gave everyone a hug, including me. what a nice, approachable guy.
with mariah and erwin mcmanus
there was a long line of folks wanting to say hi and have erwin sign books. daves lovely wife waited in line as dave and i listened to erwin inside. when we got outside, there she was, second in line. dave met erwin last year at catalyst and he actually remembered dave. very cool.
dave & dawn w some dude they met on the street!
what has become a tradition now, dinner at lucilles bbq after catalyst west. we were short 1 person, but we ate extra for nick : )
hopefully it wont be a whole year before i get to break bread with my friends in milwaukee again. what a blessing!
the fine folks at catalyst had this article from francis chan on their site…its worth passing it on…
francis chan. pastor of cornerstone church
I wonder if the inconsistency in my walk with God has anything to do with the fact that I can lead a “successful” church in America without being in love with Jesus. I’m sure I could blame American church culture, my position, or a busy schedule for my lack of reverent intimacy. The truth, however, is that my sin and hypocrisy is a result of me.
I FORGET TO LOVE GOD
It’s not like I don’t want to. In fact, when I’m deeply in prayer, it’s clear to me that there’s no place I’d rather be. I know that I love God. When I sit and think about Him, I’m filled with intense feelings of adoration. I’m convinced that He means more to me than my wife, kids, or anyone else on the planet. I just forget to love Him.
We can argue that we’re busy doing ministry, which is how we express our love. But if that’s all God wanted, His words to the Ephesians in Revelation 2 would make no sense.
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostle but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” (NIV)
God recognizes the Ephesian church for their wonderful ministry. Yet He makes it clear in the next verse that they are not loving Him. He tells them, “You have forsaken your first love.”
What has always surprised me about that passage is God’s threat to remove them if they don’t start loving Him again. “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” God tells the hard working, sin hating, doctrine-loving, persecuted church that He doesn’t want them around unless they love Him. He’s never been interested in unloving children. His desire has always been love. It was the great command in the Old Testament and the New (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37). Love was supposed to be the catalyst of all godly action.
When is the last time you came alone before your Father just to enjoy Him? If it has been a while, don’t waste your time reading this article. Get alone and adore Him. Pray that you would no longer merely love Him through your religious actions, but with the passion befitting a person in love.
When I first fell in love with my wife, I never “forgot” to call her or spend time with her. Rarely, if ever, did she get crowded out because I was so “busy.”
I FAKE PASSION WELL
Leaders make the greatest hypocrites because of their ability to persuade and deceive. Rarely is there a pastor whose character exceeds his reputation. If I were to ask those closest to you about your relationship with God, what would they say? If I were to ask God the same question, what would He say? If your family, friends, and congregation have better things to say about you than God, it’s because you give them that impression. We do this because we can. God gifted us with an ability to communicate. Too often we use this ability not to convey who we are, but who we want others to think we are.
It’s similar to the church in Sardis, to whom Jesus says, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Rev. 3:1 NIV) Others believed the façade, but Jesus knew the truth. He reminded them that He knew of their spiritual deadness. The hope was that it would jolt them toward true life. God’s desire for all believers, especially leaders, is “life that is truly life.” (I Timothy 6:19 NIV) You’ve all had times, hopefully, when you experienced this “life.” But when you aren’t experiencing it, you fake it. Why? What’s the point in faking it when you can have it?
This article originally appeared in the Catalyst GroupZine Volume 3, Courageous in Calling.
I once heard a Christian leader say, “I refuse to let my public passion exceed my private devotion.” As a leader, have you made that commitment? It could make for some pretty boring sermons.
It burdens me when I think we may have missed it. I ache when I consider how we are missing out. Remember, being obsessed with Jesus is a good thing. Trading the truth for a lie doesn’t benefit you or any person you are leading. This isn’t coming from a writer saying, “You must repent.” It’s coming from a fellow sinful leader saying, “We’re so stupid if we don’t.” You can have genuine intimacy with Almighty God today. Why not?
I FOLLOW THE PEOPLE I LEAD
It is hard to be rejected. I hated it in junior high, and I still hate it today. It didn’t take long to learn how to fit in, in order to avoid the pain of rejection. That ability has stayed with me and begs me to use it. I know how to keep people from rejecting me and leaving the church. I know what words to say and which actions to take to keep people around. But when I do that, I’m no longer leading. I’m being led by the right or wrong desires of the people.
God calls us to give people what they need. Based on His word, regardless of whether they stick around. Jesus led. Few followed, but He kept leading.
Last summer I came to a shocking realization that I had to share with my wife: If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. He was the one who said, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NIV) I’m much more popular than Jesus.
Having come to that conclusion, I came back to the church with resolve to call people to the same commitment Christ called them to. I knew that people would leave, and they have. I found comfort in that because, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 NIV) Over time though, the conviction can fade, and it gets tiresome seeing people leave. There is a constant pull to try to keep people around rather than truly lead the faithful who remain. When my church was started, I used to tell my wife that I didn’t care if we only had ten people, as long as they really loved God and desired to worship Him with all of their hearts. Where is that conviction now?
I sometimes wonder what I would have done if I were the pastor of the church in Laodicea. We’re all familiar with that church in Revelation 3:14-22. It’s the “lukewarm” church that Jesus said He would “spit out” of His mouth. Would I have been strong enough to overcome the prevailing attitude of the entire church? Or would I have eventually been sucked into its flow and fate? I like to think I could have stood alone, but I’m not so sure.
My youth pastor had a saying that I still remember twenty-five years later, “Leaders lead.” It’s what we do. It’s what God has called us to do. Of course there’s sadness when people refuse to follow you, but it’s better than the sadness that would come if you stopped leading. Paul said boldly, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Don’t be led by your people. Lead them. It’s what you were made to do, equipped to do, called to do. It won’t be long before we’ll see that it was all worth it.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)
Jeremiah 1:17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” (NIV)
Revelation 3:21 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (NIV)
1 Timothy 6:11-12 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (NIV)
Francis Chan is pastor of Cornerstorne Church in Simi Valley, California. He has authored two books, Crazy Love & Forgotten God. He is also the founder of Eternity Bible College and sits on the board of directors of Children’s Hunger Fund and World Impact. Francis spends much of his time speaking to students around the country, committed to teaching directly from the Bible. His passion is to see the church display a much deeper love for Jesus. Francis lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children.