THE POWER OF EXCELLENCE : How CATALYST Conference gets 12,000 Leaders To Converge On Atlanta Every Year





I have been to the last 3 CATALYST Conferences (2006, 2007 and 2008) and to me this year – 2008 – was absolutely the best, hands down. Even Andy Stanley shared this similar view during his last session on Day 2. You may be wondering, ‘why do you consider this year’s event to be the best so far?’ The answer: it was because of the accumulative experience – the worship, speaker content, sense of united passion etc. It felt like the atmosphere, the experience, was pregnant with possibility. Like God was doing something special in the hearts of everyone there, that was both individual and personal, while also corporate and communal.

But I am convinced The CATALYST Experience can be reproduced anywhere if the same principles are followed.

Here’s What I Think Are Main Reasons For It’s Incredible Success :


1. Remarkable-  Catalyst is remarkable. Which means, as Seth Godin defines it, is: “something worth remarking about” (see Godin’s book “Purple Cow”).  And the Catalyst MC Lanny Donoho’s out-of-the-box thinking serves this value naturally. Whether Lanny’s bringing a Camel to John Maxwell as part of his CATALYST Lifetime Achievement Award, or bringing an Elephant into the Gwinnett Arena, or having a Mariachi Band pass through or bringing out Jeff Foxworthy as a surprise guest.  His endless list of surprise, fascinating and unconventional guests are natural ‘purple cows’. Not too mention his incredibly creative and side-splittingly funny videos. All this creates buzz (both in the blogosphere and the real world) and is the number one driving factor that cause people to talk about the event to their friends and family.


2. Tribal – Catalyst creates a community.  At it’s heart Catalyst is more than just another event.  It is a tribe of next generation leaders.  Throughout the year Catalyst builds and strengthens and serves their community, through the podcast, Catalyst Monthly (online magazine), the Catalyst Blog and the‘Catalyst Space’ website.


3. Serving us, Not Selling us.  We trust the Catalyst brand to have our well-being and best interest at the core of what they do, instead of trying to market us with all sorts of clutter.  Through their interviews and online resources, including products like special edition DVD’s and the Catalyst Groupzine, and speaker selections, Catalyst serves us – all those who are part of their tribe- for our best interest and success.


4. Inspires Hope – Catalyst inspired hope.  By showcasing the ground-breaking work and initiatives of so many ordinary people just like us, both at the live event and throughout the year, we are inspired as leaders to do more, give more and be more. The guest list of dreamers, world changers and movement makers is endless, and includes remarkable movements like : Hoops of Hope, Samaritans Purse, To Write Love on Her Arms, International Justice Mission, Call + Response, Compassion International, Convoy of Hope, TOM’s Shoes, Gift Card, Rwanda Clean Water, 410 Bridge, Word Made Flesh, HOPE International, Prison Entrepreneurship Program, Land of a Thousand Hills. . . to name a few.


5. Movement – Catalyst inspires movement. When we come together at the conference in October, we’re inspired to change the world, and we’re renewed with belief that we can indeed change the world, and we celebrate each other’s movements, ministries and attempts at changing the world.  And above all, we are equipped and inspired to continue changing the world – for the glory of our King who died so that we might live.


6. Fun – At Catalyst people are never board. From the moment they enter the Arena to when they leave. Whether it’s beach balls, balloons, lighted pens, great live music etc. The fun never stops. And this fun has many attending benefits like : it breaks the ice between strangers, it fosters a sense of unity among attendees who otherwise may not interact.


7. Worship – Catalyst leaders (those who attend the conference) are really at their core a bunch of mushy worshippers who adore being in the presence of God, and absolutely love singing to their heavenly Father. And the organizer’s sensitivity to this fact is evident in the emphasis of diverse worshipping experiences throughout the event. Consider this : At the event in 2008 we experienced worship led by : 1. Steve Fee Band. 2. Kristian Stanfill 3. Eddie Kirkland 4. Todd Fields 5. A Special Five Women Singing Act (with notables like Candy Pearson-Selton, Christina Fyncher and others) 6. The Atlanta Pentecostal Voices Choir (or some similar name) who opened Day two. 7. The Daraja Children’s Choir from Nairobi, Kenya who rocked the house with “God of Wonders” and “Mighty To Save.” 8. Guest Worship Leader: Aaron Keyes. 9. Also Special worship songs performed by Jon Foreman, lead singer of the band Switchfoot . . . How’s that for an emphasis on worship.







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