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Catalyst Leader Conference Atlanta 2017 Recap

Catalyst Leader Conference Atlanta 2017 Recap

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This past weekend, I attended the Catalyst Leader Conference in Atlanta, and it was a combination of three of my favorite things: visiting a new place, learning, and meeting new people.  My mom got me tickets to go as an early birthday present when I found out that several of my favorite authors and pastors were going to be speaking this year, and I’m so thankful I got to go.

Everything about the conference was done so well.  The emcees were hilarious and engaging, the worship was amazing, and each speaker brought something uniquely and powerfully insightful and impactful to the stage.  On a personal note, not only did I get to meet a handful of new people, I also ran into a friend from college, plus a blog reader from North Carolina (shoutout to you, Katherine!)—how crazy cool is God?  Unfortunately, I didn't have the extra space in my schedule this time to explore Atlanta outside of the area the conference was in, but even just driving through the downtown area en route to and from the airport made me want to plan another trip back soon so I can change that!

Throughout the conference I shared some of what I was learning on Instagram Stories and Twitter, and received quite a few messages in response.  While it’s impossible to encapsulate all that was addressed at Catalyst, I decided to put together a quick little post recapping some of my favorite tidbits and takeaways from each of the speakers for those of you interested in hearing more.

ANDY STANLEY (Pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta, GA and Author)

  • A single act of courage is often the catalyst for extraordinary.

  • Leaders rarely regret the risks they took.  They always regret the opportunities they missed.

  • You don’t know what hangs in the balance of your decision, but you don’t want to look back and wonder what God could have done if you would have stepped out.

  • If leaders have secrets, they lead with a limp.  We need to fear the consequences of concealment more than we fear the consequences of confession.

  • Great leaders don’t make all the decisions, great leaders make sure all the decisions are great.

  • It’s better to fail in the center of God’s will than look back and wonder what might have been if we trusted and obeyed.

  • Questions we ask again and again reveal what we truly value.

JEREMY COURTNEY (Co-Founder and Executive Director of Preemptive Love Coalition)

  • Don’t look primarily at the problems, see people.

  • When the world is scary as all get-out, are we going to love anyway?

  • Stop talking and take a step toward the thing that scares you most.  Do it scared.  Fear will always be in the passenger seat, just don’t let it drive.

  • Don’t cheer on organizations helping people in need if you aren’t willing to love the enemy in your personal life.

BOB GOFF (Author, Diplomat, and Consul of Uganda)

  • It doesn’t make the truth more true when we burn down other people’s opinions.  It just makes us arsonists.

  • Our faith is the sum of everything we’re going to hold onto and everything we’re going to let go of.

  • Know what Scripture says and measure what you hear against it.

  • We don’t need to be Jesus’ lawyer.  We need to love people.

  • Who knows if you’ll fail or not.  But it’s better to fail trying, not watching.

TIM TEBOW (Author and Professional Athlete)

  • The greatest title you will ever have is “Child of God.”

  • When you know who you are, you don’t walk with arrogance, but with sacrifice.

  • Live by your convictions, not your feelings.

  • People follow courage.

  • Take a look back and remember the times God has come through for you, because He’s going to come through for you again.

  • Always come back to what matters: loving God and loving people.

  • When you step out and are willing to be just a little bit different than those around you, watch what God will do.


  • When God doesn’t give us what we want, He gives us something else: Himself.

  • Courage is trusting God when you don’t know what’s next.

  • There is courage in surrender.

ROBERT MADU (Teaching Pastor at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, TX)

  • At Jesus’ baptism, His identity is confirmed by God—and this is before He starts His ministry.  Jesus’ identity—and ours—isn’t about performance, it’s about relationship with God.

  • Jesus didn’t just die the death we were supposed to die, He lived the life we are created to live.

  • The Word of God is our weapon.  When Jesus was in the water being baptized, the Word of God came over Him.  When He was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, the Word came out of Him.  We need to be filling ourselves with the Word of God so that when we find ourselves in the wilderness, it instinctively comes out of us.


  • How people behave at the end of something deeply shapes how they will remember it.

  • Endings energize—people are more likely to do things they’ve always wanted to do as a time period is ending (aka studies show people are most likely to run a marathon at ages 29, 39, and 49).

CHRISTINE CAINE (Founder of the A21 Campaign and Author)

  • The goal isn’t just to start courageous, the goal is to finish courageous.

  • Courage is trusting what you know about God more than what you don’t know about the future.

  • Sometimes the same people who served as a catalyst to get you where you are, are now an anchor holding you down.

  • If there is a disparity between what comes out of your mouth and what is happening inside of you, your world will collapse.

  • We shouldn’t be uniting around our hate for someone or something, we should be uniting around our love for Jesus.

  • When Jesus knows He is going to get the glory, He’ll take your places you could never take yourself.

CARLOS WHITTAKER (Musician and Author)

  • Courage isn’t found in surrender, it’s found in surrender.

  • Sometimes we spent our entire lives trying to clean the cobwebs in our lives, when what we truly needed to do was kill the spider. (Spider: An agreement you have made with a lie that keeps you bound.  Cobweb: A mediator that brings false comfort to your lie).

  • Jesus didn’t die on a cross so we could cope.  He died on a cross so we could have freedom.

BRENÉ BROWN (Researcher, Storyteller, and Author)

  • In the absence of belonging, there is always suffering.

  • Belonging isn’t something we negotiate with people, it’s something we carry in our hearts.

  • Loneliness is a better predictor of early death than smoking a pack a day, diabetes, or obesity.

  • You can’t preach a gospel of inexplicable connection from “a safe distance.”

  • The most dangerous thing hating from afar has done, is it’s allowed for the rampant dehumanization of people.  People are hard to hate up close.  Move in.

  • If we are charged by God to find the face of Jesus in every human being, we have to stop dehumanizing the people we hate and start moving in.

P.S. I bought Brené Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness after hearing her talk, and literally read the whole thing on the flight home—definitely recommend!

BILL HYBELS (Pastor of Willow Creek Church in Chicago, IL and Author)

  • Courageous leadership is quieting your heart until you know God’s bidding for your life, then doing it humbly and resolutely no matter the cost

  • We can’t receive something precious from the Holy Spirit when the ambient noise of our lives is high.  We don’t hear from God when we’re moving 200 miles per hour.

  • Our work is never in vain if we’re doing something for Christ.  Live on purpose, for His glory.

There you have it—some of my favorite thoughts shared at the Catalyst Leader Conference.  It was encouraging for me to process through them again as I put this together, and I hope it was encouraging for you to read.  Let me know any that stood out to you in the comments.


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