This post grew from the realization that because of Catalyst, I have not experienced more peer pressure in my life since fraternity recruitment my freshman year at Penn State. Catalyst is an amazing conference for church leaders  and I am grateful for guys like Brad Lomineck who make it happen. 

But this year I am not going, despite the fact that every “young” culture-savvy leader for Jesus on planet earth will be attending. 

 My mind playfully drifted to the super-spiritual, decide-it-all question of evangelicalism - WWJD? Would Jesus go to Catalyst if he were here today? 

I’ll let you decide. Below are five reasons why I think he might or might not.  To set the stage for the list, here are the four completely different perspectives I have in relating to Catalyst:

  • as a local church pastor 

  • as a church consultant

  • as a ministry owner and therefore a potential sponsor for Catalyst

  • as the author of Church Unique, which was one of the largest books giveaways at Catalyst two years ago

 With these different lenses, here’s how I see it.


 #1 Jesus created crowds. A guy who hosted a spontaneous picnic for 5,000 would certainly enjoy hanging out with 10,000+

 #2 Jesus enjoyed connecting. Catalyst is one of the best places to meet ministry friends and leaders from across the country.

 #3 Jesus did the unexpected. The folks at catalyst create great experiences with a dash of surprise.

 #4 Jesus communicated effectively. From branding the event to motivational mojo of speakers, the folks at catalyst are fantastic communicators.

 #5 Jesus enlarged perspectives. There’s something about seeing literally thousands of church leaders together that encourages the soul, and touches the expansiveness of Jesus’ mission in the world.


 #1 Jesus saw beneath the surface. Jesus would know what’s more important to Catalyst- the cash or the cause? Their history and brand emphasizes the connection to Andy Stanley (and John Maxwell) in the genesis of the conference in 1999. But they seem to hide the true succession of ownership. Catalyst is currently owned by a non-ministry related for-profit entity. What ultimately drives final decisions today?

 #2 Jesus was undistracted. Could the hype of the event eclipse the help of the event? Yes it’s a great place to be, but Jesus would have discerned how well the investment of time and resources meshed with his mission.

 #3 Jesus popped inflated egos. Is the leverage of key personalities year after year, just smart ministry and business, or does it cross a line of a kingdom value?

 #4 Jesus promoted stewardship. Imagine the carbon footprint of 10,000+ people driving and flying to one location when new opportunities for motivation and learning have been created in the kingdom (like Charles Lee’s Ideacamp or Leadership Network’s The Nines). 

#5 Jesus changed a few. Catalyst is all about influence in the name of Jesus, but Jesus recipe for influence was deeply relational. He attracted crowds but invested his life in a very, very few.

Whether you're at Catalyst or not, make the best of the next few days! I'll see you there next year.

And, I would love to hear your own pros/cons of Catalyst. The tension is good.