Written by Naomi Brown.
Earlier this month, thirteen Greenville students traveled to Atlanta with Tim Caldwell and Dustin Fenton for the 13th Annual Catalyst Conference. Catalyst describes itself as a “gathering of young leaders, a movement of influencers and world changers who love Jesus, see things differently, and feel a burden for our generation.” At its core, Catalyst is 13,000 leaders coming together under one roof to worship, learn, and have fun. The Greenville group, comprised of Agape staff, GCSA officers, and RCs, volunteered as ushers in exchange for the opportunity to attend the conference free of charge. While it was an exhausting few days, the complementary Chick-fil-A, opportunities to make fun of Dustin’s driving, and the many lessons learned were definitely worthwhile.
While listening to speakers such as Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel, and Christine Caine, the students explored the theme of ‘Make’. In the opening session, Stanley told the crowd, “We were made to make, not consume.” This set the tone for the weekend as other speakers elaborated on topics such as ‘Making Disciples’, ‘Made in His Image’, ‘Making a Difference’, and ‘Making Culture’. A continuing theme was stepping out into uncertainty and boldly facing adversity. As Junior RC Nicole Barks commented, “Catalyst reminded me of the importance of the process. A leader cannot be formed without walking through the hard steps of formation.” These great teachings were coupled with meaningful worship times. The walls shook with the power of 13,000 voices praising God under the guidance of artists such as Gungor, Johnnyswim, Michael W. Smith, and Charles Jenkins.
Andy Stanley speaking at the 2006 Catalyst Conference
In addition to these motivating and convicting times of preaching and worship, Catalystbrought business men and women to teach on leadership. Junior Denee Menghini reports that her greatest takeaway came from Simon Sinek’s presentation on effective business philosophy. He stressed the importance of starting with why we do things, then moving into a disciplined method in order to form a consistent result. This “why-focused” perspective has many practical applications for Denee as she leads AgapeFest. Similar to this idea was Andy Stanley’s closing talk on defining the “win.” Stanley argued that without properly and specifically outlining what constitutes as a successful outcome, our churches, programs, and businesses will not consistently achieve. Several of the Greenville students commented on the ways this concept will affect how they plan events for Agape, GCSA, or Res Life.
Day 1 of Worship at the 2012 Catalyst Conference
As an RC, I personally learned and grew in many ways at Catalyst. The words that affected my thinking the most were spoken by Stanley during his opening talk and repeated by other speakers throughout the weekend. “Leaders run towards the messes,” we were told, yet I find myself at best doing the bare minimum for the messy and marginalized on campus and at worst turning my back on them entirely. As a leader, I should be bringing those on the outskirts into the community. I have high hopes that this lesson, and those burning on the hearts of others who attended Catalyst, will bring change to Greenville College.