“So How Was QLA 2013?”

Q LA was a few weeks ago and every so often someone asks me about it.  I was pretty excited heading into and  loved my time there. I’m still processing but here’s a sarcastic and somewhat serious summary until I can post something legitimate.

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.

Upon entering the very cool Nokia Theater in downtown LA, my first question was where was Andy Crouch? You would think it would be where’s the registration table? What’s in the gift bag? Is Kobe Bryant  here? Nope Q without Andy is like a Catalyst worship leader without a scarf.  Now, I have all sorts of theories of why Andy wasn’t there. Most obvious is that Gabe asked him to present on power and idolatry again and Andy said, “You know I can talk about other things!” They had a terrible argument and rumor has it Andy is going to begin his own rival gathering called Y.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I had volunteered to fill in if they really needed some words on power as I’ve been plagiarizing Andy’s presentation all year now, “Who flourishes as a result of your power? Hmm.” [dramatic intellectual pause then start fast and increase speech volume on every other word] “WHO directly GAINS from your INFLUENCE?” [Slow down again, lower voice] “The reality of idolatry is that they work … at first … ” [Be brilliant, quote a Reformer then a current cultural icon like Jay-Z and then stop on time – pretty much anyone can do it].

Second question was, “Is Gabe wearing white jeans?” Brother, every time you wear those, two Nones are born. (It seems all attendees have to say something about his attire, I really don’t care, I just needed something to say at my table).

Third, where was Thousand Hills Coffee? and Toms Shoes? and my new Freeset bag to add to my closet, err, collection? And where was the surprise guest appearance by Mel Gibson? (You have no idea how hard it was for me not to start that rumor on Twitter. “I just saw Mel Gibson smoking outside the Nokia Theater! Surprise guest? #qla”).

As with any conference/event one regularly attends, it gets easy to joke about the predictability. In all honesty, the absence of all the aforementioned was refreshing. And this is part of what I appreciate about what Gabe and the Q Team do – things are intentional, ordered, well thought out.

I normally don’t like too much of that “order”  but because there is so much content, things like the presenter countdown clock and again, that intentionality on making things feel fresh help you get into a rhythm of motivated listening/learning/processing. I hope they didn’t over-think to the point of driving themselves/each other crazy and if they did I hope they found some rest and renewal in the weeks since but it’s a great event.

It was so good that honestly, I’ve hesitated in over-talking about it as to not annoy my friends. If I had to describe what I like about the feel it would be that it’s not about being high energy but rather focuses on being informative, challenging, some celebrating, and with the blessing of “Now go out and fulfill your calling in this world.”

It’s not overly nerdy, it’s not overly dramatic, it’s certainly not shallow – I don’t leave on a high and while I may feel tired from all the content and conversation, I also feel “equipped” and encouraged (if I can use churchy words).  Bottom line it’s a great balance of all these things for those living and serving in that space between the Church and culture.

Next year it’s in Nashville – I’m already registered at the early bird rate (a first for me, as in early-bird anything).  Let me know if you’re going or interested.  In the meantime, I’ll be going through my notes and post some thoughts in the coming weeks – hope you may find some of this helpful.

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