Q and Unlearning
I attended my first Q conference this year in Portland. While it is hard to compare Q to The Gathering I did have one especially vivid and riveting experience. No it wasn’t the tattoos and dredlocks or the testimonies about growing up in a Baptist church and then coming to faith.
It was something even more challenging for someone like me who hosts a conference. Normally we try to round up participants out of the halls and the classrooms and meals to make sure everyone gets to the general session on time. We even ring bells and send staff out to remind everyone that the session is starting. We crank up loud music to get their attention. Sometimes I’ll start praying from the podium if nothing else works!
Yes it’s like church in that way. We want to make sure everyone is there before the preaching starts. During one of the main sessions at Q I stepped away to get some coffee downstairs.
When I got to the coffee bar below the Crystal Ballroom I was stunned. Almost a quarter of the attendees were there having conversations instead of being in the general session. Not only that but Q had provided them with a large screen that allowed them to take in the session from the coffee bar. Small conversations were going on all over the room. Now and then if something was really interesting on the screen they would pause and listen but for the most part they were focused on their conversations. But they did not want to miss the access to the general session.
This is not the kind of programming we do! We want their full attention and no distractions! Then I started thinking about it from the perspective of the participants. They come to learn but they also come to connect. In fact the connecting is more important than the learning. Q has simply recognized that and made both possible.
I don’t know if I have the courage to do that or can unlearn my own values. I don’t know if I can place what the customers value over what we value as conference organizers. I applaud Gabe Lyons for doing it…and I am hoping his example will inspire me to think about doing the same.