Thoughts & Highlights on the Q Event Day 1 #qideas

This is my third year at Q and this gathering has been the most helpful to me. Being a youth pastor, you’d think it would be something like youth specialties (whom I love). Having attended emergent gatherings, willow creek leadership simulcasts, and numerous other events, I have found Q to be somewhat unique. To put it simply, there are channels of conversation that I simply do not have access to. After 10 years of ministry, being in conversation with other pastors, following periodicals like Christianity Today, and being online, you can stay pretty in tune with what’s going on in the “ministry world”. While Q puts out many elements of church ministry, they also pull a wealth of conversation from the other 6 channels of culture (Education, Political, Business, Media, Government, and the Arts).  The idea is to bring the 7 channels together and engage by asking questions and creating conversations relevant to the Gospel.

In previous years, the Q Conference was held in Atlanta, New York City, Austin and this year was Chicago’s turn. Gabe and friends pick great venues in city centers that are rich in culture. This year was the Lyric Civic Opera House.

From the website, “Q educates church and cultural leaders on their role and opportunity to embody the Gospel in public life.  We believe that exposure to old and new ideas is the best way to stimulate imagination for ways the Gospel can be expressed within our cultural context.”

That’s my best explanation for what Q is.  You can read more of the history of Gabe Lyons and the Fermi Project here.

I may use Evan’s idea from the NT Wright conference, and attach my notes soon but I need to clean them up. In a few months will actually post the presentations online, I hope you watch them for yourself.

Some personal thoughts, notes and sentiments as I attended Q:

Who Attends Q?
I love when a conference reveals who is in the room.
Would have appreciated if the ethnicity stat was mentioned.
Like most of these events, it’s a pretty white room. A very small percentage of minorities. In fact, there may have been more non-Anglo presenters then actual attenders (I write that as a compliment to the Fermi Leadership). It’s not the fault of anyone, I’m just saying …
Btw, it was cool that i wasn’t the only Egyptian in the room (salem alek Victor).
Surprised more people aren’t into e-readers.
There were a lot of liars in the room too. I mean all these people saying they are on twitter and the hashtag only had like 30 people. Probably bc there was only one open wifi network.

The Decline of Christian America by – David Aikman
Excellent presentation.
Appreicated the mention of the Newsweek article “The End of Christian America by Meacham”. I remember reading that.
Couldn’t agree more with the average nominal Christian has terrible misunderstandings of Christianity.
I confess that I get tired of the Barna stats. Surprised he didn’t use more of Kinnaman or Christian Smith’s research.
Appreciated the Chinese church comparisons.
Couldn’t agree more about the intelligencia – gatekeepers wake up, it’s time communicate with the tehno-generation.
Didn’t really “learn” anything but there was only 18 minutes, it’s an excellent start to the conference
“Time to get our faith out of rigor mortis and bring alive the faith that changed us”


The Both/And of the Gospel by Tim Keller
While I thought Tim Keel did an amazing job at discussing the Gospel at last year’s Q in Austin (you can watch it here), Keller was the perfect choice for this presentation. To me, it feels like Q is still a pretty conservative room. I think I could still feel the sentiment in some pastors’ minds, “Keep your missional hands off my gospel”.
“Like it or not – justification and justice are joined at the hip” – justice people who are separating themselves from justification by faith are neglecting a powerful and important tradition.
Justification by faith leads to justice – justice leads to God
If you claimed that you are justified by faith you must demonstrate justice.
When Tim Keller is talking about taking care of the poor (which is not new for him and many other traditional types), the traditional church will respond more. I think I heard someone think, “Crap, now Keller is reading that Shane Claiborne guy.” Either that or the BIble.


Q has a series of 3 minute promotions. They’re like commercials and plugs for new ministries. Many of them are excellent and worth paying attention to.
Halogen TV. is worth checking out.


The Next Christians – Gabe Lyons
“Instead of being offended by what we encounter in our world, we must be provoked to get involved.”
Liked the letter to Diogentus –
Provoked by the line “People don’t care about all people, just most of the people.” – ouch.
Was moved by the story of their first born being born with down-syndrome. They created a campaign of what this child can look like. They put these wonderful materials in doctors’ offices and offered help for others. Beautiful.
Money quote – * I think what the soul is to the body is what we as christians can be in the world


The Future of Education – Sajan George
The problem with education is that we assume this linear pipeline from K-12, they will
somehow all be ready for the adult workplace – amen.
Sajan speaks at breakneck speeds. He needs to be a 36 min. presentation in the future – he’s that good and has that much material.
That and someone that is taking notes needs to take control of his clicking speed through the presentation. If you have ever been to a U2 show when they bombard you with milisecond images and words, that’s how Sajan’s presentation feels, only without the Claw Stage and no sunglasses.
“We need a new standard of teachers that are better.”
it is not a funding problem
it is not just a human capital problem
it is a design problem
The Gospel must motivate us to act.
Called for a more technology-enabled student centric school.
Longitudinal data systems that help how we monitor students
Common core international standards “what we teach”
Excellent quote – “History has shown whenever the gospel is embraced, the future is always beautiful.”
Loved it!


Evolution of a Voice – Bryan Coley
Excellent presentation that this blog post won’t do justice towards. I cannot wait to watch this presentation again.
He used a linear chart to show how particular voices used culture to speak. In this case, movies.
So, the evolution of the African-American voice in movies in the 1960’s where they were referenced (the, “Hey That’s Me” voice) to movies that said, “Hear Me” in subculture classics “Shaft”.
Eventually there is a tipping point between the sub-culture and main stream and for Black Americans it was “The Color Purple”.
Mainstream movies emerge in the 80’s that say, “I’m just like you” and examples of these movies were Eddie Murphy classics (white movies with black men), shows like the Cosby Show, and eventually there is a cultural impact, in this case the 90’s with the voice that says, “I’m like you but you’re different”. An example would be Boyz in the Hood.
The new millennium brought a new voice that said, “I am without you” that was diversified and integrated. Examples are Tyler Perry movies, movies like Hitch with Will Smith and Morggan Freeman who plays God and a president.
Today we have a black president – it was a brilliant connection.
He did the same with movies that represented gay culture and Christian culture.
He quoted a movie producer that made this comment after the success of “Blindside”, ” I would put more Christians on screen but I want to see Christians stop portraying themselves as perfect.”
Bryan concluded his time by saying, It is more important to present a Christian as a human. In this next phase – tell the truth.”


Being Provoked to Engage – Joe Saxton
Jo did an incredible job on this presentation –
Leaders need to be challenged to engage when provoked instead of withdrawing from problems (young leaders need to learn this, older need to be reminded).
We need to choose to be the rescue team.
Jo defined enormous life problems as “cultural earthquakes” – very timely.
The needs in responding to cultural earthquakes are compassion, community, a connecting story, and a compass.
She then put a picture of her, her sister and her foster mother and asked, “Would you have found me in the rubble?” Because she was lost and buried in it and needed a great deal of help. It was a brilliant turn in the presentation – instead of presenting as the hero, she presented as the rescued, who in turn committed to rescue others.  I was moved, she was brilliant.
She asked that we challenge our current paradigms.
Are we leaving 60 percent of American under the rubble by the way we do church?
“We don’t need to be afraid, we need to be the rescue team.”


Did Jesus Preach the Gospel? – Scot McKnight
While visiting South Africa, Scot asked his guide what he thought when he visited the States.
The guide said everywhere he went, everything was the same. The media has taken over, and have made everything the same place
Everyplace becomes no place – When no place becomes every place every sacred place becomes no place – loved it.
When all words mean the same thing, no words mean anything?
Is this true when applied to the word gospel?
Did Jesus preach the gospel?
The text has disappeared under the interpretation – Nietzsche
Told a story about a pastor he bumped into at an airport. Scot asked him if Jesus knew the gospel. Because the pastor only understood the gospel as crucified for sins and resurrection, he argued that Jesus could not know the gospel.
Scot replied with one of the best lines of the conferences, “Too bad for Jesus, He was born on the wrong side of the cross.”
We as evangelicals created a personal salvation culture at the expense of the gospel.
who is in, who is out
We have lost the meaning of the gospel
When all words mean personal salvation, no words mean anything
According to paul and the herald the story of israel as coming to climax with Jesus the Messiah as Lord.
To herald the story of Jesus the Messiah
See my notes for the rest – it was excellent.

Saving Marriage Before It Starts – Mark Regnerus
Christianity Today readers may remember this article .
It has become culturally difficult to delay sex until marriage
Thesis – Price of sex has dropped to an all-time low
1. men want sex more than women
2. all sex within a community is connected with a community
She has something of value, he doesn’t. – women (mostly) don’t pay for sex.
When does sex start in a relationship (unmarried, 18-23)
It starts when she decides that it does.
The price of sex is set by women, it is often negotiated by men
She may charge (no sex until you give me a complete promise at the altar to commit to me for the rest of your life) can she get that today?
92 percent of people have sex before marriage.
Today we find ourselves winking at sex and having to justify getting married
Reasons why couples are getting married later.
1. why we are getting married later
2. men’s decreasing cost of sex
3. shifting nature of labor market
4. availability of high speed digital porn – least influential
5. women’s success
When the price of sex is so low, they will delay marriage
The message becomes what you do when the best years of your life is over.
Excellent topic – very helpful for my ministry. I went to his talk-back session and while I want to push back on a few things (he tends to shift most of the responsibility to women), his thesis is helfpul.

That evening, there was a panel discussion on Scripture with Alister  McGrath, Brian McLaren, Father Dempsey Rosales-Acosta and Tim  Keller.  It is heavy in context so to debrief in this space would be  inadequate but I will say it was an excellent discussion.  There were  parts that I was not able to connect with and parts that I cheered  (sometimes said by the same person).  I look forward in listening to  this conversation again.