Packing My Brain at Q & SOBcon

May 12, 2010 by


Last week I had the opportunity to go to two very different, but incredible conferences, Q and SOBcon. Though both conferences are unique in that you really need to attend to get the fullness of the gatherings, I thought I’d try to share some of my big takeaways from both.

Q brings together leaders from different channels (arts & entertainment, business, church, education, government, media, politics, and social) many of which I didn’t know. This meant the content was as fresh as it could be and because they only had 9 or 18 minutes it was pure content, no fluff. (Tom Krattenmaker from USA Today gives a great overview here)

One of the big takeaways for me was that we need to stop bringing a quick criticism and start bringing solutions. I’ve often said that the church needs to start being known for what we are for and not just about the things we’re against, but this brought that thinking to a new level. As a creative I’m always looking for new ideas, I see the church and the way it communicates and am often very critical. I can find the holes very quickly. How quickly will I roll up my sleeves and be a part of the solution?

In Gabe Lyon’s talk (the creator of Q) he made a great point that while some will say that “Christianity is dead” he pulled back a layer and showed the grand opportunity of the day we are in as a church: “Christians can bemoan the end of Christian America or we can be optimistic about it. What’s good is that it forces us to get back to the basics of serving people and loving our neighbors. Through history, Christianity has affected more people from that position than from a position of dominance.”

Sadly, many of my notes where lost (thanks Apple) but Tim Schraeder as always has great notes online.

The very next day thanks to Mark Horvath I was able to take part in day two of SOBcon. SOB stands for (no not that) Successful + Outstanding Bloggers. I was in the room with the who’s who of blogging. The very first blog I ever subscribed to was AdRants and sure enough, there was Steve Hall along with Liz Strauss, Chris Brogan … the list goes on and on. These truly are the rock stars (literally as Jay French from Twisted Sister was there) who make a living, a very good living, with social media.

But it wasn’t so much who was there, but that they were there. Take Chris Brogan for example. Here’s the guy with the #1 read blog and he didn’t fly in, give his speech and sign a few books, he engaged with everyone throughout the entire event. While we, as the church, tend to talk a lot about community within those couple of days, at a “secular” conference I saw an incredible display of community.

That was a big takeaway all by itself. It’s one thing to talk about community, but when do we reach out to people who are in no way really connected to us, when there’s nothing in it for ourselves, haven’t signed on the dotted line and simply connected and helped?

It was also a good wake up call and reminder to me that we need to get out there in the world, rub shoulders with people that think differently than us. I spend all my time at “christian” and “church” conferences, which is great, but I will now make it a point to step outside of my walls more often.

Onto the content, One take away came from Ted Murphy who said “Stop the ‘screw you, you don’t get it’ mentality and look at what they are saying … there’s some truth in it. Learn to listen.” As someone in the creative world, it’s easy to blow off feedback with ‘they’re old school, they don’t get it, etc.,’ but we must take a step back and listen to what they are saying and see things from their perspective.

He also said “if it freaks people out a bit, it’s probably a good idea,” which Steve Farber continued with the “OSM” (Oh Sh*t Moment): “[It’s] a natural thing that indicates you’re doing something extraordinary.” The safe way, the normal way is usually the most comfortable, and usually the easiest–but not always the best route to take.

As I sat in this “non-church” conference, I was reminded of how beautiful God made his people as Steve talked about making others greater than ourselves. This wasn’t about hyping a product or making someone look good but to find people in our environments that we believe in, see talent and abilities that they don’t see in themselves and find ways to pour into them so that they can flourish.

There’s so much more from both conferences that I am certain will be fodder for many a blog post. My brain was, and still is, full of so many ideas, thoughts and challenges that will continue to shape who I am, what I do and why I do it. Thank you to everyone for pulling all the greatness together.

Post By:

Michael Buckingham

With the goal of making the church the most creative place on the planet, Michael founded Holy Cow Creative, the church’s creativity and design studio. He is the former creative director for the Center for Church Communication and Church Marketing Sucks, and is currently the experience pastor at Victory World Church in Atlanta.
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4 Responses to “Packing My Brain at Q & SOBcon”

  • jnswanson
    May 12, 2010

    welcome outside. In the past 3 years I’ve been to SOBcon three times. The only church conferences have been denominational ones. I have found the community in the smaller SOBcon (150 people) environment energizing and thoughtful and relational. Better than the other conferences.
    It was great to find you there.

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  • Dawn Carter
    May 13, 2010

    Great post! You are so right, we limit ourselves when we just stick to hanging around people who think like us. And why not celebrate excellence where ever we find it?
    I love running into friends like Dan Portnoy, Mark Horvath, Tony Steward at places like SXSW, the Ideation, #140conf. I am making a point this year to schedule in conferences & gatherings outside the bubble.
    Dawn Carter

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  • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
    May 13, 2010

    Great thoughts, Michael! So bummed I missed it this year. Might need to start planning for next year now…
    @hardlynormal, are you in?

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  • Paul Steinbrueck
    May 14, 2010

    Thanks for sharing some of your take-aways. I’m gonna put both of these conferences on my radar for 2011.

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