For years now, I have served on the board of a cutting edge cultural engagement organization called Qideas. Among other things, Qideas sponsors an event in multiple cities called Q Commons, and also a national event called the Q Conference. Below is a reflection I wrote after a Q Conference in Nashville. If you are a Christian seeking to engage your world faithfully, thoughtfully, and winsomely, I trust you will find these insights helpful.
In 2014, approximately 1,200 Christian leaders descended on Nashville for the Q Conference, an annual event founded by Gabe and Rebekah Lyons (see qideas.org). Attendees drank water from a fire hose as various speakers and panels, several of whom are members of our church community, contributed to the conversation about how Christianity can meaningfully speak life into the culture.
Following the conference, Gabe and Rebekah were so gracious to join us at Christ Presbyterian Church during our Sunday services, where I was able to interview them on subjects ranging from church to culture to anxiety and depression to parenting children with special needs. Gabe and Rebekah’s insights were very meaningful for our community, and can be heard in their entirety here.
During the Q Conference and also in the interview at CPC, Gabe posed four questions (original source, “4 Helpful Questions,” Paterson Center) that churches desiring to be missional–to live out in the world as salt and light and a city on a hill–to participate in God’s mission to renew cities and cultures–to love people, places, and things to life–to invest our energies and resources toward the end of leaving the world better than we found it–should be asking on a regular basis. These four questions represent a framework around which our church and many others approach the outward face of our ministries.
Question 1: What is wrong?
What are the things that we, in the name of Christ, need to confront? Where is the world struggling, and what does it look like for us to follow Christ in his mission to heal and restore? What does it mean to be a people of compassion, working for a better world with the energy and grace God gives to us, by confronting evils that threaten human dignity: poverty and neglect, injustice and abuse, racism and classism, hurting neighborhoods and failing schools, illness and addiction, hypocrisy and loneliness?
Question 2: What is confused?
What will it look like for us to follow Christ in his mission to clarify and compel? What does it look like to be a truth-telling people, inviting our neighbors to consider the truth and beauty of God, to see and experience Jesus as the answer to humanity’s longing for forgiveness, hope, community, and meaning?
Question 3: What is good?
What will it look like for us to follow Christ in his mission to celebrate and cultivate? As an affirming people, what does it look like to resist cynicism, and instead to applaud, participate in, and enjoy the things that are right and good with the world—things that support and advance the common good for all of our neighbors?
Question 4: What is missing?
What will it look like for us to follow Christ in his mission to share and create? As a life-giving people, what does it look like to live well and love well, so that all of our neighbors, whether they share our beliefs or not, are glad that we are here? Whether at church, in our neighborhoods, at work or at play, what will it look like for us to be advocates more than adversaries, contributors more than consumers, givers more than receivers?
My fellow pastors and I found these questions to be incredibly helpful and clarifying. I hope you do too.