Day One of Q 2013, Los Angeles by Q Ideas

If there was a theme that emerged from opening day of Q LA, it was the idea of “constraint.” What does it mean to be bound? How do limits, in fact, offer more freedom? Whether they intended to or not, each of the presenters spoke into this idea in their own way—offering a perspective on the creativity available within constraint. Below is a round-up of Day One here at the 2013 Q Ideas conference in Los Angeles:

Bobette Buster told us there are only two kinds of stories in Hollywood: redemption or tragedy. Good stories ultimately fit into a mold: they tell the story of the reinvented or the walking dead. And within this framework, we find an ultimate story for humanity.

Linnea Spransey argued that infinite possibility only paralyzes; true art comes from within the confines of limits. She revealed how her best artwork is born within rigid frameworks.

Dr. Richard Mouw argued that our own limitation—our very humanity—is a space for creativity. We were made in the image of God to work, to create, to name, to contribute to an ultimate flourishing … a common good.

Dale Kuehne looked at the economics of sexuality. In short, he asked: what are the limits of sex? Kuehne argued that our church and our relationships have been devalued and we must seek to regain a balanced view of friendship and community.

David Kinnaman: As people seek to define themselves outside of the boundaries of religion, what does this mean for American society? Kinnaman asked “What does it mean to be post-Christian?” and explored the relationship between an increasingly secularized society and the urban centers.

Rebekah Lyons challenged us to stay even when we desperately want to break free. Through her own journey, she revealed the significant healing that can come from surrendering to God and allowing him to work in our weakness.

Hannah Song spoke on the most tangible of limits—those forced on a people by an oppressive regime. Yet while oppressed, the stories of the North Korean people reveal an opportunity for action—for empowering a people in their efforts to push for true change.

Jason Russell admitted his own limits and their power over him. He shared his own story of breakdown and redemption and asked if a movement could, in fact, outlive its founder.

Tim Chaddick asked what it means when a society pursues perfection at all cost? When the American ideal is no longer one of ambition, but of having it all? Chaddick looked at the cost of denying our personal limits in a vain pursuit of perfection.

Dale Partridge explored the limits of a brand—can a brand, in fact, contribute to the common good? What if brands had to live up to the same rules as everyone else?

Richard Stearns wondered if we have actually limited our Gospel. Have we made it safe? Have we kept it from become infectious?

Margaret Feinberg explored the power in the word “today.” Is there anything more limiting than the present? Yet, God asks us to embrace the now, to live in the moment and seek his wonder there—not in what has been, or in what could be, but in what is.

G James Daichendt demonstrated the significance of street art in the LA culture. What once was deemed as illegitimate has become a significant identifier of meaning within a transient culture.

Father Elias Chacour is defined by his boundaries: a Palestinian, an Arab, a Christian. These identifiers are meant to keep him limited, but within them Father Chacour has instead found an opportunity to call for peace, to stand on the wall and insist that we do not have to take sides.

Erwin McManus challenged the church to imagine “what if?” Yet even in this seemingly unlimited vision, he admitted that most lasting change comes from people embracing their calling within the institutions and “parishes” God has placed them.

Jessica Rey fought against the idea of “modesty” as a negative. While many would say the idea is an oppressive boundary, she argued that within the construct of modesty (or today’s idea of it), there is a freedom—that modesty isn’t about covering up what’s bad, but about revealing dignity.

Brad Lomenick urged leaders to, in a way, limit their own power. He argued that today’s leader says sorry more, says thank you more, gives up more credit and offers more praise. Today’s leader doesn’t grab power, but instead shares it and collaborates with others.

If you weren’t able to attend the first day of QLA, we hope you will watch the free live stream of today’s opening sessions.