Still processing…unlike DJ, I’m slow-drip. If you were still looking for a taste, check out the video found on YouTube:
Noticeably absent at Q was the on-stage presence of Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos. Although at the very least, 2 of the presenters were African American, and of course, diversity and multi-ethnicity were stated as key values by a number of people. Comforting? Maybe…we’ll see.
What was set as a premise was the notion of 7 Channels of Cultural Influence (pdf). They are, in short:
— television / radio / publishing / newspaper / Internet
- Arts + Entertainment
— artists / film/ literature / music / performing arts / sports / theatre / video game
— advertising / mktg / pr / biotech / ecommerce / finance / law / medicine /nanotech / science / services / tech
— schools / college / university / continuing ed
— executive / judicial / legislative / military / political commentators / public policy / advocacy
— local churches / parachurch
- Social Sector
— educational / family / foundations / marriage / religious
The presupposition that there is a single, monolithic culture is problematic because it does not take into account subcultures. Thus, even if there are arguably these seven channels of cultural influence (highly debatable if the church would even qualify in certain demographics), they are duplicated in each subculture. Some would even make the very valid case that American evangelical Christianity has become a subculture unto itself, and thus, even when they convene to “impact” the culture at large, they only can sit atop their own box and make observations with field binoculars.
The reason why many of the Asian American pastors and leaders who attended the Q felt they walked away emptyhanded, is that despite all the great ideas and the high-powered speaker list, very little of it is applicable to the Asian American context. Don’t get me wrong, great ideas and inspiration abounded, but readily applicable? Not so much — not without a lot of processing and decompression.
In essence, while Q was indeed the coolest “Christian” conference I’ve ever attended, its existence perpetuates some of the problem inadvertently. First of all, there is a tendency from the industrial model to assume that there are “best practices” to church, even as believers and church leaders. Secondly, the industry of Christianity is dictating how Christian communities should be formed, rather than the community itself. In other words, programs are leading people. Our intentions are good, but when we commoditize who Jesus is, or perhaps more to the point, people who tell us what life with Jesus is like, we create subculture heroes, and then they themselves can’t get out of the box that we proclaim that we are trying to get out of. Or perhaps we hope that they can pull us out of the box with them.
We end up as American Idols, rather than artists — masters of a craft, willing to suffer for our art, wrestling with ourselves to make room for our expression, where we don’t care if we’re starving or not. Q doesn’t give me the sense that it will be a place to incubate great ideas, but rather I fear it could be a center for continuing Christian industry. Ultimately, this is not what real innovators do, this is not where the most creative people convene, this is where they give their voice and share their success, but it is not the crucible for their vision.
I have no problem with Q, please don’t misunderstand. I’m just trying to figure out where it stands in my mind. These aren’t final thoughts…just initial ones.