Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson (April 21, Lab 1)

I was blessed to go to the Catalyst West Coast Conference last week (April 21-23). It was a great event and it was great going with a handful of staff and lay leaders – as well as catching up with old friends. Over the next few ‘open days’ (that is, not Monday, Wednesday, or Sunday) I’ll give some recap and some thoughts that were helpful/challenging to me. Consider it my public review of what God taught me at Catalyst.

Catalyst Labs are the ‘day before’ sessions with different church leaders. The first I went to was “In the City, In the Suburbs” with Darren Whithead and John Tyson. It wasn’t at all what I expected so I was initially disappointed, but it gave some great things to think about and I ended up being really pleased by the end of their time with us.

I could probably spend multiple posts on each speaker, but I’d get bored after awhile and never finish. So the format will be bullet thoughts from each speaker(s) that I found thought-provoking.

· Whitehead is one of the teaching pastors at Willow Creek (mega-megachurch) and Tyson leads smaller parish communities in Manhattan, but they are best of friends and they encourage leaders to build friendships with those in different ministry contexts so your thinking can be challenged and sharpened and you can learn from one another.
· Every culture is telling a story. The American story is framed by Disney. We assume everything will turn out fine and we’re the center of the story. Disney re-worked some tragic tales about character and turned them into happy endings based on the American Dream.
· Worldviews are crafted from various angles/media/practices/values and there’s no way to overcome them in one hour. We need to take spiritual formation seriously.
· Challenging question: What would your life look like if you got everything you wanted? (Tough answer: Probably like many others – and they aren’t Christians). We sell the gospel asking, “What if you die?” We need to ask them, “What if you live?”
· How do we fight culture? Preach against American consumerism, unpack the biblical story, small groups that are built on practices, not just thinking, round table discussion groups to talk about how to influence culture, take Sabbath seriously.
· Almost unrelated, but perhaps the thing I found most fascinating is that there are 5 lessons that every culture has taught men except our own. I think it is from the book Return to Adam, but I’m not sure. I need to do some searching. Here they are:
1. Life is hard.
2. You’re not that important (the tribe is more important).
3. Life is not about yourself.
4. You are not in control.
5. You’re going to die (legacy).
Some great thought to dwell on when all is said and done. The two things I’d most like to follow up on with these guys is finding that book on men and finding out how Tyson does small groups. They are the ones that are more ‘practice’ based than thinking based. I’m not sure I’ll be able to answer much in terms of questions, but I’m willing to try.

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