I went to Catalyst for what (I think) was my fifth year in a row. This year was the best one so far in my opinion, though. Not because of the speakers (although they were great). There was just something different in the air.
I always enjoyed the speakers and the cool stuff at Catalyst. But honestly, previous Catalysts I attended felt surface-y, plastic and fake–like I was in a room full of professional Christians. It seemed like everyone looked alike: either shiny and clean with gleeming white teeth and highlighted hair, or carefully, very carefully, unkempt. Every year I literally felt nauseated at the end of the first day. I always attributed it to exhaustion.
This year felt fresh and real from the moment I walked into the arena. I saw ordinary people of every stripe, people like me and people not like me, and that was frickin’ awesome. I even saw black people there (more than I remember seeing in the past) who looked comfortable in their blackness! There were more people in attendance than ever, but I didn’t feel stifled or crowded as I have at past conferences. I didn’t feel sick at the end of the day one either, a nice new experience for me.
And the theme was one I could rally behind: Together. The opening video made my heart pound and the blood rush to my head, because it exemplified the theme, and it resonated with that part of me that craves for the church to get off our butts and reach people!
My husband and I stayed in Atlanta the weekend for our 11th anniversary (woo-hoo), and we visited North Point Community Church. That was a cool experience. It was sort of strange to see Andy Stanley close enough to go shake his hand if I wanted to (I didn’t–I’d have felt like a groupy. He’s just a guy!) But I particularly enjoyed visiting NPCC, both as a visiting Christian, and also from the standpoint of a church staffer at a mobile church.
From a professional standpoint, I liked what I saw there, got some cool ideas, but most of all I felt proud of Freedom House Church. We’re doing a lot of what they’re doing, and we meet in a school! Wow, God!
As a Christian, I had one of those “he read my mail” experiences during the message. I responded to an altar call in a strange church. It was slightly scary but necessary. Oddly I felt like it was safe to do it. I’ll blog about that later. I really enjoyed NPCC.
All told, I enjoyed my visit to Atlanta, but I wouldn’t want to live there!