Catalyst Off the Blogs Night with Carlos Whittaker and Aaron Keyes

Off the Blogs Catalyst

Off the Blogs Catalyst

Aaron Keyes, Off the Blogs

Pete Wilson, Off the Blogs

Carlos Whittaker, Off the Blogs

Anne Jackson, Off the Blogs

Jon Acuff, Off the Blogs

One of the special events last week when I made it over to Catalyst One Day was the Off the Blogs meeting that took place in Buckhead GA.  This event was hosted by Pete Wilson of Cross Point Church in Nashville and he was joined by Carlos Whittaker, Anne Jackson (both of which are on a blog break right now) Jon Acuff, and worship was led by Aaron Keyes.  I went into the meeting / worship time not really fully understanding what was going to happen, and went away with a new understanding of the real names and faces we each have behind our own Internet facade.

There were no laptops, no macbooks, no (or very little) twittering, and it was real, it was hard core, it was intense, and an offline time to unplug and take a look at what shapes our lives.  I went in with a few questions of my own.

  1. As Believers, how are we allowing technology to control our lives?
  2. How do we use it to further self and selfish ambitions.
  3. What are we doing to use the knowledge of technology and understanding of how things work on the Internet to further God’s kingdom?
  4. How do we balance our online lives with those we physically interact with on a daily basis (are those people become the same)?
  5. It is really necessary for us to unplug when it is not a distraction in our lives, but it is how we live now?
  6. How can we leverage technology for God’s purposes?
  7. How much of our own lives do we share online?
  8. How can I get more connected with leaders in the church through technology?
  9. How do we connected with people outside the church?
  10. What is the next thing in technology that is going to rock this world?

I left with more questions than I went in with but it was still a great night and well worth the extra time to get over to Buckhead.  Carlos, Anne, and Jon all shared some incredible stories of how they got where they are in their walk and the struggles they went through with and without God in their lives.  None of this had to do with their blogs, facebook, or anything technology related, but how God changed their lives.  We are all a work in progress and I am so glad I had the chance to get to listen to people I respect in the Church and online.

Here are a few pics from that night.

Catalyst Photos at Northpoint Church with Steve Fee Band

Catalyst One Day in Atlanta

Steve Fee from Fee Band

Ashley on Drums

Yesterday was about the longest 24 hours I have spent in a long time.  It was a last minute photo shoot request for Catalyst One Day in Atlanta and it was non-stop from the moment we left on Wednesday night until we got back home around midnight last night.  I am still processing what all happened.  This was a full packed day with Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel as the keynote speakers led by worship with Steve Fee of the Fee Band and several other great musicians.  After Catalyst One Day was over we drove down to Buckhead to the Off the Blogs meeting with Carlos Whittaker, Anne Jackson, Jon Acuff, and Pete Wilson of Cross Point Church with worship led by Aaron Keyes, which was really an eye opener.

At this point I am not even sure how to start to digest the amount of great information that was given out on Thursday, not to mention the almost 4,000 images I shot for Catalyst.  I felt very privileged to get to be around all these minds and just tried to absorb all I could where ever I was at the time.

A friend recently asked if there is a movement going on in the church, and all you have to do is listen to what is going on with some of these churches and you can start to see signs of a broad movement in the Church Body.  Some churches will ignore it, some won’t and don’t know about it because they refuse to change, others are locked in cement and are dying a slow death, but there are churches who are embracing new ways to do things and look at “church” in a fresh new light.

If you missed Catalyst One Day, or the Off the Blogs event after wards, find the podcast, cd, or dvd, and just listen to the ideas and information these guys discussed.  I will set the stage with a few photos here with more to come in the upcoming weeks as I go through the complete edit.  Unitl then, here are a few opening shots of what happened yesterday in Atlanta.  This is the stage at North Point Church and a few of the band members (Steve Fee and Ashley on drums) back stage getting ready for the day.

Catalyst One Day in Atlanta and No Film or CF Card?

I am in Atlanta right now getting ready to shoot the Catalyst One Day event at Northpoint Church and later the Off the Blogs at Buckhead Church.  This was one of the most last minute shoots I was ever asked to do, but being that it was Catalyst (and the Off the Blogs) I was pretty excited about accepting the last minute offer.  Step one as a photographer is always always pack your film (or in this case digital compact flash cards).  Without a medium to record any images on, it makes your equipment and time pretty useless, and up until this month, over the last 10-12 years, I have never forgotten those precious cards (or film), but I did today.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago when we went to the Butterfly Day Center at Callaway and wanted to make sure I never did that again (same reason as today, I switched camera bags at the last minute) so I guess this makes number two.  Thank goodness there is a Best Buy in the same parking lot as my hotel and I can go pick up something I already have tons of, but can’t do the shoot without.

I am really looking forward to the day today and can’t wait to hear and worship with everyone at Northpoint.  I doubt I will be able to post any pictures throughout the day here but you might look for some over on Twitter, but I should have some shots of Andy Stanley, Fee Band, Carlos Whittaker, Anne Jackson, and several more posted here over the next few days.  Now off to our favorite neighborhood Best Buy.

Who Inspired Your Life Today, Anyone?

It seems that January has gotten off to a nitro-fueled pace.  We started this new series (Alive) that I am personally already struggling to keep up with.  Anyone else?  It is about mid-week in the first week in January so I figured by now almost everyone has given up on some of their “new years resolutions”, but in light of my post yesterday on how to be creative, I tried to keep my own list in my mind as I went through the day.

So who inspired me us to be creative today?  For me, I started off the day with an unbelievable speaker, Eddie Gran, the former running back coach from Auburn.  He spent much of his career with Tommy Tubberville from Miami to Ole Miss, to Auburn, and of course in light of the current coaching situation is looking for a job. He presented a great testimony which I know had to inspire many who were able to come hear him speak.

Was I able to achieve any creativity on my own.  Who knows.  I wanted to dive deep into my own journal, take some photos, and listen to some new music, but for this day, here is my short list of others who gave me some inspiration for the day.

The last one requires a little explanation.  I am amazed at how I keep learning from my mother-in-law.  Since her death in April I have been pouring over here journals she wrote when she lived in Europe.  She did what most of us are trying to do now with the Alive series, write.  I have been putting her journal one day at a time in a blog called My Life in France.

I sit here and wonder what is or isn’t acceptable in worship.  Why do we do this or that, why don’t we do this or that.  Her entry in her journal today was short, and to the point, and really hit the spot.  This is what she wrote on February 2, 1992:

No English speaking churches in Verdun so we drove to the American Cemetery located in St. Mihiel, France (where 4,000 Americans from the war are buried) and had our own private worship in the chapel there.

Now that is inspiring, at least to me.

10 Ways to Continue to Create Original Ideas

Well this is start of the first full week of the new year, and actually the first official week in my position here at work.  I want to say I am getting settled in but I think I did that in the month of December.  As I sit here in a borrowed office for today I am thinking about so many new things going on here at Cornerstone that makes it an exciting time here, and a busy time.

This week we started a new series called “Alive”.  We will be going through the book of Colossians for the next month, and at the same time starting a walk through journaling our thoughts and questions as we study through this book.

The creative minds over here decided to do something different and actually engage (not that we don’t try to do that anyway) with everyone on a different level.  We started a website ( that corresponds to a paper journal everyone received on Sunday.

As we walk through the book, the website will be updated with new scriptures and an application each day for the remaining of the series.  A fresh approach and something that will hopefully catch on with others.  I know writing is like many other things in life.  The more you write, the better you get, and the more you write.

How Do We Continue to Create?

How do we continue to create?  It doesn’t matter if you are working for a church, a school, self-employed, or whatever, creativity is important, it keeps our minds “alive”.  Opening up and becoming more creative is something I strive to do each day, but I don’t buy into the notion that there are creative people and people who are not creative.  Everyone is creative, but not everyone allows it to come out, or deems it to be important.

Looking ahead I don’t want this to be the pinnacle of creativity this year.  To me, there are basically three areas of creativity (I know there are many more but follow me here) that pretty much encompass everything else; writing, o-graphy (that would be photo-video), and music.  So, to me, the key is how to grow in each of these areas and find new ways to create in each of these areas.

Anne Jackson wrote a great piece today, The Death of Publishing as We Know It: Who Holds the Smoking Gun? that talks about how the publishing industry has screwed itself into the ground by publishing so many mediocre books.  True, we are not all writers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write.  As a photographer I would say the same thing.  Just because you are not a professional photographer does that mean you are never going to pick up a camera again?  My key for myself is to write more, shoot more, and read more.

So, as some say, here is a “mind dump” in no particular order.

10 Ways to Create Original Ideas

  1. Write more, read more, and learn more about media
  2. Surround yourself with creative minds when you can
  3. Ask someone for help or suggestions
  4. Expand what you normally do and be different
  5. Get out of your routine, go outside your normal elements
  6. Remember your focus – what is it, making money, salvation, discipleship?
  7. Don’t copy —- take, redesign, and create something new
  8. Don’t be afraid of the box – throw the box out and don’t worry about what is “correct”
  9. Think for yourself.  Don’t let others tell you how to think.  Study and think for yourself
  10. Be prepared to fail and try something else

Number 7 is a little vague I know.  What I mean is what we read from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Most “new” is something that was improved upon from something or someone else.  So find something good and make it great.  My problem is always “finding the new”.

This is really my list for myself.  I have never felt like I was a very creative person but most of that is because I refused to let it surface.  It had no real purpose.  Perhaps the older I get the more important it is and the harder I have to work at it to get better.

Music at Catalyst with Jonathan Foreman of Switchfoot :: Photos

Jonathan Foreman of Switchfoot at Catalyst

Jonathan Foreman of Switchfoot at Catalyst

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

I have been reading through reviews by many of the bloggers that went to the Catalyst Conference in Atalanta last week and most are so good and so detailed that I have determined I have very little of anything intelligent to say after looking at their sites.  One in particular, Brad Ruggles, has several great posts like Pay Attention To The Rule-Breakers, Call + Response, and Catalyst Live Blogging: Andy Stanley to name a few.  Another fantastic blog of note is Anne Jackson’s Catalystbackstage and her personal blog, she also has a great rundown on day two, see Catalyst Day 2 Sessions and Video Wrap Up for a great list of other posts too.

Hope you enjoy a few images from the music of the afternoon on Thursday.

I have determined my job is not going to be to review any of the topics or subjects for the individual sessions, I’ll leave that up to the bloggers who know what they are doing with that, but I will continue to post a few images. Afterall, this is basically Catalyst from my point of view.

Music at Catalyst Was Almost Beyond Compare

I have been to countless concerts, live events, large and small and one thing that stood out to me was how intense the worship was while these incredible bands performed for His glory.  Jon Foreman, the lead singer for Switchfoot, performed around mid-day on Thrusday and was just incredible.

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta Starts Tomorrow

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

hyatt in Atlanta

We made it to Atlanta and made a quick run over to the convention center to check things out.  We just happen to run into Anne Jackson from Cross Point Church in Nashville, also hosting the Catalyst 2008 Backstage blog.  It was pretty obvious once we saw the sole-2-soul suv out front, great paint scheme.  Now for the hard work, setting the alarm.  Heath was busy at work about 30 seconds after we arrived (see photo below), but the alarm is going to go off very very early tomorrow, so time to wrap it up for today.  For more info on the conference see Headed to Atlanta for the Catalyst08 Conference // Catalyst Wednesday. For now, here are two arrival shots into Atlanta, Heath (@hspur on Twitter) and a HDR (high dynamic range) image of the Hyatt.

Check back tomorrow for some photos from the conference and we also want to shout out to the team arriving back in the United States from Uganda tomorrow, welcome home guys.