Archive for the ‘Q Conference’ Category

I really regret the fact that I didn’t get to go to Q this year when I see pictures like the one here. It was a cost issue. But now I know I really wanted to be there. I would have also like to see The Fray, but I digress.

The picture above is the full story of the Gospel. It’s the one that has gotten lost over the years. And what caught my attention is the last part. Restoration.

This part is not possible over an extended period of time without love. The middle two, which the church has been focusing on for ages, requires a grasp of theology and can be reduced to a prayer (so they think). But the last part simply cannot be done without love. It’s impossible. Because restoration requires getting through the $*it. It requires forgiveness. It requires the willingness to stand with someone who just refuses to let go of their stuff. And that my friends is the messy stuff.

Addendum: After I wrote this I realized that if God knows what is going on, being outside of time, the first section is also not possible without love.  Creation.  If God knows humanity will fall, then creation requires love and the willingness to step through each section to see it through.  Creation was an act of love that revealed God willingness to step through each stage with us.

And please don’t assume I’m saying that redemption doesn’t require love.  It does.


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I recognize that on Thursday I was somewhat hung over from thinking so much. I was still on California time so getting up at what was 5 AM for me made it harder to be in the moment. But I gave it my best shot. The following are what stood out to me.

David Kinnaman, who is President of the Barna Group shared with the audience the initial findings about how the world sees Christianity. It was honestly sad to hear how we show up to people. They don’t see us as people who are defined by love, but as people who are defined by judgment. That made me sad.

Andy Stanley shared about the value of impacting culture. I’ve never seen Andy before, but I loved his simplicity and style.

Shayne Wheeler, from All Souls Fellowship, and Chris Seay presented a great conversation on homosexuality. And this is when I got sad. Why is it so hard for people to love people who are homosexuals? Yesterday I was reading the verse in John 8 about the adulterous woman, and if Jesus showed up today, I think he’d probably choose someone who is homosexual. What are we afraid of? This conversation dominated the afternoon breakouts, and there was serious arguments that happened in the Q&A session afterwords. I don’t get it. Are we going to change people’s hearts with condemnation or love?

Sadly, at this point I was almost done thinking. The next three presenters spoke on the environment and I was not all there. I was worn down but liked what they said. I firmly believe in the stewardship of the environment, but nothing new hit me.

Jon Passavant from Model Home Project was really cool. He connected his friends in the modeling world to the simple act of love and this caught my attention. I met Jon afterwards and he was very genuine. I appreciated his honesty and love for God.

I ended up taking the trip to CNN, which was interesting but nothing special. I had assumed we would be meeting with people from CNN, but it was just a tour. Had I known this I would probably have taken the tour through the High Museum.

Rob Bell spoke that evening on the Eucharist. I’ve heard this idea from Rob at the Isn’t She Beautiful conference and it was nice to hear him reiterate it. He was in such a sassy mood and I love that about him.

I went to bed and exhausted.


Today was held in the Fox Theater. I love Gabe’s choices for sites. Both were very artistic and gave the gatherings an art feel to them. Nicely done.

Sadly, I just didn’t get James Emory White or Clint Kemp. Nothing hit me and I found myself wandering. This may have been from my lack of sleep or being worn out. I also felt that the 3 minutes segment, where people shared their ideas was anticlimactic. Nothing hit me.

And then Rick McKinley spoke. I have to say that I love Rick for a lot of reasons. One is that he had helped me to understand what repentance can truly be through various methods and sermons. I love his simplicity and humility. He’s a rock star that doesn’t care that he’s a rock star. He’s rather be hanging with the homeless than sharing the spotlight. His message was simply to give away power, that within congregations are people who want to love and need to be released. He asked some really great “what if…” questions.

I said earlier that I think it was divine providence that he got bumped to Friday and I’ll share why. I met a friend, Dr. David, at the conference and we were lamenting that it was sad that we all got together in this one place and weren’t taking away or participating in some shared initiative together. There was a tremendous amount of influence in that room. Perhaps the ability to influence 100,000 or more and yet we were leaving disconnected. We had idea but there was no initiative. Rick perhaps provided that initiative. He shared how he was working on the Advent Conspiracy. It’s a project to take the vast amount of money we waste on Christmas and solve the world’s clean water problem. I instantly knew that I was on board.

I left Q knowing I’m coming back next year. Gabe said it would likely be in New York, which would give me a great reason to come back to NY. Love that city.

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I’m sitting at the Atlanta Airport thinking about Fermiproject’s Q conference. This is the first real opportunity I have taken to download my thoughts and take a look at what I’m really leaving here with.


Q was held in an old Tabernacle next to CNN. The location was awesome and really was inspiring for progressive thought. Whenever I looked around I felt like I was in a rock concert slash think tank. Each session was only 18 minutes, which created a rapid fire thought process. If a great idea came around, we didn’t have much time to think about it or we would miss the next presenter’s ideas.

What stood out to me?

For me, this was the best day in terms of new ideas and thoughts, which is like saying chocolate ice cream is better than chocolate chip ice cream. They’re both good. But my clear favorite was Catherine Rohr, with Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). This is clear one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Catherine’s group restores prisoners by selecting the natural leaders in prisons, restores their dignity, loves them, and then prepares them for business when they get out. They’ve never had someone return to prison and the dropout rate was I believe 3%. To me Catherine was Jesus because she took a risk to love the unlovable. I dig that.

Andy Crouch broke down trends in culture and how we process culture. He helped language that process. It kind of felt like someone who helps you realize what you’ve always known but never had the words to describe it. He broke them down into postures over the last forty years (or so). First we condemned culture. Then we critiqued culture. Then we copied culture, and then we consumed culture. Each posture was simply an attempt to deal with how culture shows up. He then did something I really liked. He gave us a holistic approach to posture as people who love: create and cultivate culture, which is a reflection of our Father. Nice.

Rick McKinley, from Imago Dei, was supposed to be speaking today, but for some reason, which ended up being divine, he got pushed to Friday. More on that in a little bit.

Kevin Kelley spoke on the future. He was the former editor of Wired Magazine. I’ve never heard of Kevin but he helped encapsulate culture in a unique way. But one thing he said that struck me was the population growth will not continue. In fact, we will see it decline dramatically over the next generations. This caught everyone by surprise.

Donald Miller was as humorous and funny as he always is. But I’ve heard most of his presentation of narrative through articles and podcasts so it wasn’t new. It still was a joy to see him. He did have the most humorous moment of the conference that I think helped lighten the spirit of a leader’s conference, which can often get intense. The Q group chose to use a clock, which counted down to zero. At zero it pulsated, almost like it was coming out at you. So imagine for a second, two large zeroes pulsating, and Donald said, “My time is up. The boob’s are flashing.” Everyone laughed. Thank you so much for the humor Don. I love you for that.

Blake Mycoskie, from Tom’s shoes told his story, and if you don’t know about this guy, you should. It’s very simple. If you buy a pair of his shoes, he’ll give one to someone else for free. It’s that simple.

I’ve never heard or seen Chris Seay, but what he said caught everyone in the stomach. His conversation was passionate and somewhat angry, (which may have just been lunch) which made me wonder what other conversation’s he had about this. His point was that as a culture we are consumers, which was validated by data. No one could move or ignore what he was saying. At the end of the session we had a breakout to discuss how we could spend less. And the two guys next to me were stunned. It was clear this was a tough topic to look at. Chris’s point was that if we took a small portion of the money we spend frivolously at Christmas we could solve (yes solve) the world’s clean water problem. Think about that. What if we as a church got together to solve the world water problem? And this is why God pushed Rick McKinley to the end. You’ll see why later.

I got to meet David Batstone, from NotForSale campaign, which I’ve blogged about. He was extremely gracious and passionate about what he was doing. Human trafficking was a thick topic at this conference and I loved learning more about it.

If you’re getting the gist that the people just keep coming, realize that we’ve barely gotten past lunch at this point. It was almost too much to be honest. But I loved it anyway. It forced me to think and rethink, and rethink again.

Jeff Johnson gave a fiery dialog on the hip-hop culture. It was really cool to hear the true origins of hip-hop and how it all started. He did say that hip-hop was representative of the disenfranchised, But I thought Jeff missed an opportunity to connect everyone to a deeper point and that hip-hop is representative of the oppressed, the disenfranchised, people that we all are. Unless I misinterpreted him, which is always possible.

The highlight of the evening, which felt like the crown jewel of the day, was getting a private acoustic concert from Jon Foreman from Switchfoot. We got to hear a song he had never played before and was so beautiful. It felt like a great honor to hear him play.

I honestly went to bed numb. I’ll process Thursday when I get home.

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Q Thoughts

We had coffee and dessert with a bunch of people after the evening session of the Q conference. There were six of us and we talked about what hit each of us. At a typical conference each person will have one thing that really stood out to them. A lot of the times, it is the same thing. What is interesting about this conference is that everyone had something different. It was like a firehose of thought and questions; ideas streaming at you all day long. That is why I came. To engage.

When I get home I will process more of each person.

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I am at Fermiproject‘s Q conference right now. It has been an absolutely engaging experience listening to everyone present. The list of people is a whose who of speakers. (Andy Stanley, Rick McKinley, Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Chris Seay, Mike Foster, and more) It’s been awesome. I’m in the CNN building right now waiting to tour the media giant.

The most interesting thing coming out of the conference is this idea of asking better questions, which the speakers are engaging us to do. I love it. I told my wife over the phone that this is the conversation that I need. I need people engaging my mind with new ideas and new thoughts. I’m an artist at heart, like my Father and I need new ideas.

More to come tonight after the tour.

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