What I’m Looking Forward to This Year at #QLA

QLAThe Q Conference begins tomorrow and I’m excited.  If you don’t know, Q is a gathering of Christian leaders (and some non-Christian) from different sectors of culture focusing on four themes Culture, Future, Faith and Gospel. The 7 that Q identified are: Media, Business, Arts & Entertainment, Education, Government, Social Sector and the Church. You can read more about Q here.

You can also watch the opening session here. Just a heads up, it’s hardly multitasking material so I’d recommend getting a cup of coffee, a notebook and some privacy.
Here’s the message from Gabe Lyons and the morning’s lineup:
“Please join us LIVE online for the opening session of Q Los Angeles Monday, April 15 from 12:00 – 2:45 pm EST (10 am MT, 11 CST, 9 am PT).
Our opening Q Talks will give you a taste of what the Q Conference is all about. From talks on entertainment and theology, to sexuality and the future of brands, you will get a glimpse into the future and be inspired and challenged.
Gabe Lyons
Founder, Q
THE CITY OF ANGELS | Bobette Buster, Story Expert and Film Consultant
What Makes Los Angeles Magical?
SYSTEMS AND CHAOS | Linnéa Spransey, Fine Artist
How Do Limits in Art Create Freedom?
CULTURE AND THE KINGDOM | Dr. Richard Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary
Do the Cultural Goods We Create Last?
SEXUAL ECONOMICS | Dale Kuehne, Author, Sex and the iWorld
Can Nations Survive Without Supporting Strong Family Ideals?
NONES AND CITIES | David Kinnaman, President, The Barna Group
Where Will America’s Most UnReached People Group Find Faith?
FREEFALL TO FLY | Rebekah Lyons, Author & Co-Founder, Q
Can Women Really Have it All?
WHY NORTH KOREA MATTERS | Hannah Song, President & CEO, Liberty in North Korea
Could Changing Public Perception Help Free a Country?
KONY AND REDEMPTION | Jason Russell, Chief Creative Officer & Founder, Invisible Children
Can Movements Outlive Their Founders?
BEYOND VANITY | Tim Chaddick, Pastor, Reality LA
How Does the Gospel Impact Personal Image-Making?
PEOPLE OVER PROFITS | Dale Partridge, CEO & Co-founder, Sevenly.org
Do Brands Have a Conscience?”

So I’ve been thinking about this and what I hope to receive, what I hope to contribute back in my context for the Kingdom (and perhaps what I can contribute in conversation with others here) and how I can best be faithful with such opportunities.

It always takes a lot of things to work out for me to get to these things in terms of church/family schedules, budgets, travel/housing, whether my in-laws can come and help Susan and the kids, so I’m grateful and it seems needed to prepare for these days and what my mental/spiritual posture should be.  I’ve blogged about why I go before but basically today I’m asking what I am doing here?

Well without the fancy words, about once a year, a bunch of Christian leaders gather to have the crap scared out of us with all the hell that is breaking loose in this world.  Then we wonder what we can do about it.  Yep.

I admit, sometimes I want to stand up during the gathering and say, “Hey just so you know, I’m only a pastor with limited resources in a ministry that is filled with various people – some trying to make it through the week, some completely bored by anything I’m saying/doing, some completely preoccupied by “other things” and some already doing so much, that I’d literally be scared to ask them to do something else.”

I’m sure if I did, someone would respond by saying, “We know. Us too. We should keep working on this though.  Please sit down now.”

In a lot of ways, this is the reality check for me. This is the reminder of the big picture and how it informs how I serve in my local context.  It’s the needed reminder to not waste time and squander opportunity – because there is a lot going on.

In some ways, the exact opposite is also true. This time serves as a helpful examination of what I’m doing on the local level and how these small ways might work themselves in filling out some spot of color and beauty in the big picture. I know that sounds a little dramatic but it turns out there a lot of cogs and wheels in this machine, just hoping to fulfill my role.  Frankly, I find hope and fulfillment in that.

As I’ve been thinking in these in the abstract, I thought the need to itemize what I’m looking for and at the risk of looking cheesy, here are some:
1. Obviously the presentations.  Especially looking forward to presenters like Andy Crouch, Richard Mouw, Tyler Wiggs Stevenson and Dave Kinnaman (really looking forward to what he’s going to say about the Nones – some say this is a needless trendy term. They can say that but some of the Nones are my friends so my ears/eyes are going to be wide open).  But as odd as it sounds, I’m so looking forward to those I’m not familiar with, this is a large part of what brings me here.

2. The Wednesday Experience. Last year I got to attend a briefing on human trafficking with IJM and the Department of State. I was quite moved by so much here. But one hyper-focused time on a particular topic complimented by the thirty presentations is a great thing.
This year, I’m participating in “Understanding Story and Film: WHAT THEMES SPEAK TO EVERY HUMAN BEING?” Curated by Bobette Buster, Story Creator.  Storytelling is part of what I do, would love to work on this craft.

3. Seeing old friends and making new ones. I know you’re not supposed to say this but some this feels like the adult equivalent of “camp friends”.  See them once a year, catch up and encourage each other – not much crying at this one though – may have to break out the guitar.

I’m also really looking forward to spending some time with my partner in crime, Pastor Doug. It’s so good to have someone along on the Grace Chapel staff to process with and of everyone, he and I work the most together – so grateful that we could both attend – hoping we can bring something helpful to our team and to our community.

Further I have the good fortune of having family out here whom I’m staying with. And if that’s not enough, I’m hoping to see some old friends like my former youth pastor and a dear college friend. The years are moving in fast-forward, these are the days we get to press the pause button and rewind a little together. Looking forward to this.

4. Looking forward to being marked by something.
Last year, I left DC not only with a headful of stuff spinning but I was especially grateful for the working out of this term “the common good” we keep throwing around. Am I managing my minimal contribution to the common good or am I willing to go deeper with that? Still more to process and practice but I spent a lot of time on that and I think this is a theme that keeps resurfacing in my ministry.

5. Which brings me up to the last one – Ideation, strategizing and contextualizing.

Fancy terms, I know I’ve come a long way to using terms earlier like hell and crap.  As excited as I am for the content, some of it will be lost on me (“Pearls to pigs”), some of it will be elementary to me (“More pearls please”) and a very special some of it will perfectly resonate (“Pearls!”). This is the “Aha!” moment, the lightbulb, the sweet tasting part of the paradigm shift.  If I’m not careful, this will be a moment of consumption, a high, but if I’m faithful, good things may transpire – may it be so.

Lastly, being in LA, I’m also hoping to run into a few celebrities, I know I’m not supposed to say that either but this is a blog and you pretty much say whatever you want. I’m praying I’ll bump into Bob Dylan (your intercession is welcomed because he’s touring back on the East Coast – of course). But one of these days, I’d like to sit him down and tell him Tempest was great and its darkness was brilliant. My advice would be to follow it up with something contrasting that and lucky for him, I have a few ideas. Springsteen sorta did it with the Wrecking Ball and I like to imagine one of Dylan’s final pieces to be something bright and hopeful as he embarks on these latter years.  I have  few other things I’d like to say to him too so hopefully he’ll cancel his tour and meet up with me at a Starbucks in Santa Monica.

Now if I bump into Kobe, I’m not sure what to do. I’m attending a conference that speaks of restoration and the common good. Do I pray and attempt to heal his Achilles or kick him in the other leg? May the Lord give me wisdom with him.

Well clearly I’m excited for these days, we’ll see what happens, hope you have a great week too.


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