#329 – Church Conference Nerds

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This week I am at the Catalyst West Coast Conference in Orange County. I love the Catalyst Conference and its focus on next generation leaders. I have attended numerous conferences over the years and have definitely witnessed Christian Conference Nerds. Below are some characteristics of Christian Conference Nerds.

Christian Conference Uniform

Most of my conference experience has taken place in southern California. Maybe there are more cowboy hats at conferences in Texas or Patriots jerseys at conferences in the northeast. In California, though, and especially at Catalyst, I have noticed two Christian Conference Nerd uniforms.

The first uniform is for older, male pastors. This uniform consists of designer jeans with bedazzled back pockets and an un-tucked, button-up shirt with a large design on the back, usually of wings, dragons or skulls. The shirts really make me think these men weren’t ready to get an Ed Hardy tattoo across their backs but wanted the next best thing. This uniform really is the Christian version of UFC dress attire. Whenever I walk by these pastors I’m not sure if they’re going to shake my hand or put me in a kimura lock.

The second uniform I’ve noticed for the Christian Conference Nerd is the hipster/American Apparel look. To be honest, Catalyst West really looks like an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon. There are a lot of skinny jeans. There are a lot of vests. There are a lot of high-waisted shorts and skirts. God may get 10% but, from some of these Christian Conference Nerds, it looks like Urban Outfitters gets the rest.


I don’t know how “swag” became something only rappers and Justin Bieber have. I always thought “s.w.a.g.” stood for “stuff we all get”. I’ve never seen Justin Bieber at a conference but there is definitely a lot of s.w.a.g. Conferences love giving stuff out. I’ve got bookshelves full of conference materials and free bags filled with other free bags. In fact, I just got another new free bag this week. With the number of messenger bags I’ve collected over the years, I feel like God is calling me to quit being a pastor and take up a career as a bike courier. Christian Conference Nerds love all the free s.w.a.g. They proudly carry the messenger bag from last week’s conference to this week’s conference. When they pack to go a conference, they make sure that they have enough free conference t-shirts for each day they’ll be gone. In their minds they think what could give them more swag than s.w.a.g.?


When I was thinking about getting a MacBook or a PC, Catalyst was in the back of my mind. In the three years that I’ve attended Catalyst, I always saw MMA pastors and hipster youth workers huddled over their MacBooks, taking notes and making me feel like a square. Christian Conference Nerds love their MacBooks because they serve a dual purpose. MacBooks are great for taking notes over a long day and for showing others how cool their users are. And now that I have a MacBook of my own, I finally feel like I belong. I may not have a coy fish on my shirt and I may not fit into skinny jeans, but I can open up my MacBook and take copious notes. And while I may not have the right uniform, my MacBook almost makes up for my cargo shorts.

I love conferences. It’s a great opportunity to hone my ministry skills and spend time with like-minded people. Really, when it comes down to it, I only know so much about Christian Conference Nerds because I am one.

What other traits have you noticed in Christian Conference Nerds?


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