Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I have Questions...and Ideas...

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Q Ideas conference in Denver. "Q" is for "questions"...and the conference was about fostering conversation around those questions. The fundamental question, I think, after attending is this: "What does it mean to be the Church in contemporary culture?"

We convened at the Paramount Theater.
Great venue!
This conference was unlike any other I have ever attended. The best way to describe it is TED Talks for evangelicals. The conference arranged for many different voices on contemporary issues facing the church, and the presenters spoke from their expertise and passions, giving 9 or 18 minute talks, followed by some discussion times. Presenters shared about diverse issues, from race relations, to legalization of marijuana, to transgender issues, to understanding calling, to Christian-Muslim relations, to artificial intelligence, to medical aid in dying, to gun control, to the current political climate in the United States. (And there were many more topics as well!)

Suffice to say, my brain was full after the few days we spent together, listening, and thinking, and wondering, and conversing around these challenging issues. I was glad I attended with several colleagues, and that we were able to take the time to discuss and debate together throughout each day.
My fellow Reformed-folk might recognize Jamie Smith.
He was the first presenter--setting a frame for the conference.

I am sure I will have more to say about the things I am thinking about after the conference--I took a whole legal pad full of notes throughout the conference--but for now, I just want to note two things that I took away as the overarching themes I saw:

  1. In a pluralistic culture that finds the Church increasingly irrelevant, we need to look for areas of common ground--not compromising what we believe, but looking for spaces where we can begin conversations, even with people with whom we might deeply disagree.
  2. Related to the first, we need to be very, very intentional about building relationships. We do not need to isolate ourselves from the World; instead, we need to wisely engage with our neighbors, even when we might disagree with them.
I fully recognize that both of these are easier said than done. I am still thinking about what this might mean for me individually, as well as what it means for the Church corporately.

I am grateful I had the chance to attend a conference so different form the ones I often attend, which are generally focused on issues related to practice. I love ideas. And I love questions that foster more thinking about challenging ideas!

After some talks, Gabe Lyons, the emcee for the event, interviewed
presenters, to further the conversation. Great way to keep thinking!

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