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My Schizophrenic Review of the 2013 Catalyst Conference in Atlanta Georgia

schizophrenic sxc smallYes, I know that the constant attempt by various fields of scientific study to catalogue diseases by symptoms rather than isolated causes often leads to shifting labels and that split personalities, what is now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder, is no longer catalogued as a form of schizophrenia. But so what! That’s how I learned it in the year of our Lord (COUGH), and that’s what I’m gonna call it now…. me too… and me… well, I’m not going along with it. Anal-retentive Andrew is always like that; just ignore him.

Anyway…. back to Catalyst. I just returned from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta… my first… and I had a complex few days as I attempted to wade my way through the myriad of things happening around me, and in me.

Catalyst is a leadership conference dedicated to happnin’ people in happnin’ ministries. In fact, there were so many happin’ people I was swept up into a tornado of internal conflict. I felt as though I’d gone Dissociative Identity… see why I don’t want to use it? It just lacks pizzazz, that little somethin’somethin’ needed in a label. So here are some of my thoughts based on the various versions of myself who thought them.

Scholar Andrew: While I enjoyed a handful of presenters, like Andy Stanely, John Piper and that father-daughter dynamic duo, Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruz, I found the scarcity of Scriptural instruction disappointing. In fact, the person who did the most, Bible-wise, wasn’t even a minister. Malcolm Gladwell, award winning journalist did a piece on David and Goliath, which, while missing certain important details of the story in its ancient context, was still better than what I’ve heard from many a seminary graduate. The text, when allowed to speak true is powerful beyond anything a motivational speaker might use to tantalize.

Envious Andrew: You said it, Scholar Andrew, I was disgusted… enraged to spend days listening to speakers with huge platforms, hundreds of thousands of followers, New York Times bestselling authors with little of substance to say. Some weren’t even good speakers. One came off like an ADHD on crack, and another like a 12 year old practicing a make-believe sermon in the mirror at home, stage acting rather than really preaching. The sermon took one poorly considered text and sprang into a daisy chain of poorly conceived metaphors… delivered to 13,000 adoring fans. I sit here in my basement, unable to find a paying position, straining to build a platform, while people with half my skills and comprehension strut around the country before starry-eyed fans throwing money.

Wise Andrew: Now, now, don’t be petty and arrogant. You are missing the big picture here, Envious Andrew. Wisdom dictates a more sensible consideration. You live in a world that is governed by certain principles and you, obviously, have failed to live according to these principles, while these speakers, whom you hold in contempt, have successfully followed them. They know how to get followers and how to build teams. They know how to conduct business and how to delegate to motivated and committed experts. They know what people want and what they are willing to pay to get. There is something about these people that the masses like. You may feel that you and your many professors over the years make most of these public figures look like toddlers fumbling with their Bibles, but they are LEADING, while you study, and that is what Catalyst is about… leading, not merely being a smarty pants.

Amused Andrew: I thought the whole thing was a hoot… a constantly changing whirlwind of activity around a core of people who know how to lead, even if they are not always leading people in the direction you, Scholarly and Envious Andrews would lead them if given the chance. There were comedians, video skits, many singers of different stripes, amusements outside and inside, attempts to break world records, entertaining gimmicks to get 13,000 strangers to meet’n’greet. There were movie makers, and flashing lights and fog machines. And didn’t you guys enjoy having the music so loud that your internal organs threatened to spill out?  Well, okay, me neither… but it was an experience.

Lazy Andrew: It’s all just so hard. I’ve already expended myself physically and financially just getting my Master’s degrees and PhD. I’ve killed myself becoming a scholar, always going the extra mile in my work. I just don’t know if I have the strength to expend that much energy again to build a platform of followers in addition to creating solid biblical material. I just want a professorship so I can write my books and articles and teach my classes and pay my bills and go home to peace and quiet.

Wise Andrew: Ummmmm… Lazy Andrew… quit whining. Wishes have nothing to do with the real world. You faced these challenges before, and though you were younger and more encouraged for that fight, you have something now that should be just as motivating—looming economic disaster. Live in the real world, face the facts of our changing culture, pick yourself up and labor on, you sissy. You have a call… fulfill it, and pray for divine leading and strength.

Inspired Andrew: Well, said, Wise Andrew. I for one am determined to do it. I need a platform in social media, and though this entire cyber-world is strange to me, I will overcome. I know I need the help of my friends. I know I need to work longer and harder. I will do it. I know that I fear leadership… it’s easier to be a smarty pants scholar without taking on the responsibility of followers… followers I am terrified to disappoint… but that is not the thing to which I have been called. God help me, I will build a platform.

5 thoughts on “My Schizophrenic Review of the 2013 Catalyst Conference in Atlanta Georgia

  1. It was good to hear from all of you… all observations to read and take to heart, and even to discuss.

  2. Rich Oberton says:

    There is a scarcity of careful scriptural instruction in the world. I feel like the shelves of bookstores are lined with best sellers that are pep talks rather than offering something of substance.

    Our world needs people like you who have done the work to make the Biblical message clear. I hope inspired Andrew keeps lazy Andrew in check.

    What kinds of things are you working toward? Projects in the works? Are there specific areas in the church or in the world that you are hoping to impact?

  3. Mark McEathron says:

    This is the challenge for Christians in the 21st century, it seems – getting people to see the relevancy of the Bible in their lives, and convincing them of its accessibility.

    1. Glad to see you on here. Thanks for joining in.

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