• Ron Gladden



What can we learn from Popeye about leadership, innovation, and helping more people find Jesus?

Bill Hybels calls it the “Popeye Moment”. We remember Popeye as a lovable cartoon character who morphed into an unrestrainable superhero whenever his arch rival Brutus kidnapped Popeye’s sweetheart Olive Oyl. At the moment of greatest danger, when the tall and skinny damsel in distress seemed irretrievably in Brutus’s arms, Popeye had had enough. “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!” he shouted as he slid a can of spinach out from under his shirt and – no can opener needed – squeezed the contents into his mouth. Popeye’s muscles bulged, Brutus surrendered, the young lady was saved – and half the kids in North America decided to give spinach one more try.

Brave non-conformists cannot accept the way things are. They are curious. They dream of how the world might be better. They tolerate Brutus for as long as they can, but they reach a tipping point, a Popeye moment when enough is enough. “That’s all I can stands,” they decide. “I can’t stands no more!” They grab a can of spiritual spinach, seize the initiative, and set about to make wrong things right.

Speaking of brave non-conformists, you may already know of Jonathan Penner. He and his wife, Teresa, had a Popeye moment when it became impossible to ignore God’s promptings to reach spiritually disconnected people in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. They prayed like crazy, talked up a whirlwind, and eventually took the leap. It didn’t take long for a couple hundred people to start checking out LIFE+APP (

“Last week a pastor asked me why we decided to work with Mission Catalyst,” Jonathan says. “Here it is: Mission Catalyst is the only church planting organization in North America that I’m aware of that brings these two critical factors together. First, they understand and hold a deep value for the advent movement, and second, they continually bring together the most innovative ideas in ministry. The blood that pulses through the veins of Mission Catalyst is innovation.”

“It takes incredible innovation to break down the walls that religion has erected in North America – the barriers that have separated people from the love of Christ. Every week, we’re blessed with coaching from an in-the-trenches innovator, someone who continually takes in new and fresh ideas. Helping us see what priorities are most important right now, what we’re overlooking, and what God is doing somewhere else that could make us more effective here, has been extremely helpful. But having a coach who is perpetually expanding his awareness of innovative ministry ideas, taking in workshops from some of the world’s most revolutionary churches, and proactively developing personal friendships with an ever expanding number of North America’s most effective church leaders, is beyond helpful. For us, it’s been essential.”

Jonathan took a deep breath, looked me straight in the eye (over the phone) and continued his rant, “Ron, what you’ve created is an innovation incubator. Not only do I feel like you frequently add value to what we’re trying to do. You also encourage us to try new things, things we might never test or try without your encouragement. Personally, I think Mission Catalyst needs to send you to even more conferences and churches on the front lines, so you can continue to help us be even more innovative and successful.”

I’m all for that. Maybe I’ll talk with the directional leader of MC and see if he agrees. (Wait a minute, that’s me. And I agree.)

Mission Catalyst wants to be an innovation incubator for you. To provide the spiritual spinach that energizes your dreams. To help you create the environment where the dreams God has laid on your heart, can come to life. To help you selectively abandon the past, and to pour fuel on the kingdom fire that God ignited in your soul.




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