The Q conference – a gathering of cultural influencers concerned with Culture – Future – Church – Gospel has started in midtown Manhattan.
Jon Tyson opened the gathering with a talk about the Re-Urbanization of the Church. Jon reminded us that the early church was an urban movement… urban centers of Rome and Jerusalem birthed the worship if the risen Christ – a revolutionary. This happened as believers built relationships with God, Ourselves, Others, and The World. Of course, over time, confusion has set in about our relationship with others and The World. This confusion has created a lack of clarity on how culture works and faith’s task in forming that culture. Do we run from culture as many suggest? How do we then influence the culture around us? How does the church affect the cultural influencers around us… the same influencers that the first century followers of Christ influenced?
Culture runs on systems… fashion for example. Who chooses/influences what you are wearing today… I sit not far from the fashion center of the world here in NY. The money you are dealing with (or missing!) right now is directed by Wall Street just up the road. Cities, just like in the first century, are central to the formation of cultural systems. Who better to influence cultural systems than followers of Jesus? The creation of systems of culture that benefit humanity with the message of hope. We as followers have to come back to an understanding the culture creation is our job… the meaning of salt and light. Both have to be applied in places where they work, strategically. Just like Paul’s attempt to reach the nerve centers of the world – the formative cultural systems of his day. Because God’s heart is not just about the redemption of the individual, but of the community.
“We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there if we permit the whole of collective thought of the nation of the world to be controlled by the ideas, whch by their very nature, create the notion that faith is a mere delusion.”
Then Gabe Lyons – founder of Fermi Project – welcomed us and reminded us about the origins of Fermi. The belief that small things (like the fermion – the smallest measurement of matter – can make a huge impact. That we as the church are not called simply to gather more information, take notes, and know more. But that we are called to influence, to impact, to be something small that makes a huge difference. The church is the only channel of cultural creation blessed by God that has the ability to pull the others together under God’s redemptive hand.
If you haven’t been to Q, each presenter is allowed 18 minutes to give their core idea. People representing areas of faith, business, entertainment, academia, and politics all come together to speak and learn – to understand how the church can shape culture. It is about as far from a typical conference as you can get… and I will be live blogging (and twittering) it over the next two days. Welcome to Q!