There’s something about the atmosphere of Washington, DC that is different than most cities I have visited. There is the history all around you, the monuments that commemorate great men and events, as well as the feel of power. Everyone seems to want to get close to it (though these are moments I think of Jesus’ words—all authority has been given to Me, both in heaven and on earth).
I am here because of the Q Conference, which is one of the most unique gatherings on earth. Here, leaders from nearly every sphere of culture gather to learn, reflect, collaborate, and take action to renew society—to do something in the name of Jesus for the common good. Like a mini TEDS, in the span of two days, I have listened to nearly forty presentations from some of the most fascinating people on earth. All are committed to impacting their world. Here are a few examples:
- Andy Crouch spoke about power and how we must rethink how we use it for flourishing—not for coercion
- David Brooks of the NY Times addressed the arrogance of our present culture and how we must rediscover the power of humility
- Sherry Turkle, professor of MIT, raised the question of whether we are strong enough to resist technology’s pull and recover the lost the art of conversation
- Hans Hess, an entrepreneur, exposed what is happening to our food source. 97.5% is grown in a monoculture, having a huge negative impact on our diets
- Chai Ling, author of A Heart for Freedom, was once the lead protestor at Tiananmen Square, and described the ugly side of genderside, sharing the alarming number of female abortions that happen every day in China.
This was just a part of the first day! Yesterday, we heard from Barbara Hagerty of NPR, Miroslav Volf, Diane Langberg (psychologist from Westminster) who spoke about the devastation of trauma, Jeremy Courtney (living in Iraq and making a difference helping with the after effects of war), and Bryan Stevenson, an Anglo African attorney, share the horrific statistics of incarceration.
And then there were Sami Awad and Daniel Seidemann, a Christian Palestinian and a secular Jew. They spoke about the desperate need for a solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict before it is too late.
If there is one huge take away, it is this: In almost every talk, there was the subtle, and at times, overt message, that the hope in so many of these issues, rests in the church. Will we open our eyes, engage in the issues, and allow ourselves to be broken as we get closer to the broken?
I was personally challenged by Mark Batterson, a pastor in DC, who shared these convictions—
- there are ways of doing church the church has not thought of yet
- the church ought to be the most creative place on the planet
- we must become known for what we are for
- the church belongs in the middle of the public square
This is what everyone was essentially saying. Get engaged church! Even Daniel Seidemann, this Jewish attorney, who described his own lack of faith, nonetheless said something astounding at the end of his talk. He pleaded for the church to come and bring its faith to the Middle East conflict before it is too late.
Today's final session, held at the US Institute of Peace, focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It reiterated the same theme. The church has been a major reason for so much of the impasse—yet it can still play a significant role if it wakes up and honors both the Jewish need for security and the Palestinian's need for a home. It will require us to be a leading voice for justice and mercy. If we spend our time playing with prophetic timelines and read no deeper than a Left Behind series, we will remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
The church is the hope of the world. Will we wake up to the challenge?