q reflections

April 30, 2009

About this time last year, I found out that Q would be held in Austin in 2009. I was excited by that…and even more excited a few months ago when a few generous people made it possible for me to attend!

I have grown weary, and leary, of large conferences that are impersonal and driven by the hype that happens on the stage. And while Q was centered on the presenters on stage, it was less about hype, and more about engaging with ideas. Each presenter (other than a few) was given 18 minutes to offer their thoughts around Church, Culture, Gospel, and Future. Most of the presenters had a follow-up talkback where we could engage with them in a smaller setting.

Here are a few impressions I was left with and ideas I’m living with:

  • Andy Crouch‘s presentation on Power, Privilege, and Risk has occupied my mind the most. Power is a complex issue, and Andy is making it accessible enough for us to engage with what it truly means. This will be an upcoming book that I think will be an important book for the North American church.
  • After a few email and phone conversations with Shane Hipps, it was great to meet him in person. Shane’s presentation on the impersonal nature of technology evoked the most conversation among attendees. While Shane has a great message there, I hope he won’t be limited to being the “technology guy.” He is quite thoughtful, and I’m sure has valuable things to say to the church in other areas too.
  • Shannon Sedgwick Davis became a hero to many, including me, because of her work with those in influence and in the margins around issues of global injustice and poverty.
  • Tim Keel gave a helpful presentation called The Gospel Revisited. I remember sitting in a session at the Emergent Gathering about 5 years ago where Tim was met with a lot of resistance in the audience as he questioned our understanding of the Gospel. It was much different this time…I’m guessing Tim is more well spoken, and the audiences are more receptive five years later.
  • Jon Tyson kicked off a panel discussion on unhealthy trends in the church by naming our loss of spiritual warfare and video venues. Unfortunately, spiritual warfare was lost in the ensuing dialogue about video venues….thus proving his point.
  • Tyler Wigg-Stephenson gave an outstanding presentation on his dream to abolish nuclear weapons. Please, please visit the Two Futures Project and learn more.
  • Gabe Lyons offered helpful thoughts on how the church needs to be countercultural rather than relevant. He portrayed being countercultural as a way of leading, rather than restraining, culture.
  • If any discussion suffered from the 18 minute time limit, it was the dialogue on Uncovering Our Hidden Misogyny. I think this is a huge topic that could be easily dismissed by most based on the limited introduction.
  • I’m left wondering what it would look like for Q to be shaped by more global voices. I understand that the emphasis on culture lends itself to North American thinkers. Yet, I wonder how the rest of the world could be seen not just as those who need resources from North America, but have something to speak into our culture and our understandings of church and gospel.
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