Why Is the Q Ideas Conference So Expensive?

Fuller Seminary’s Burner Blog sat down with Q founder, Gabe Lyons, and asked him why a 3-day conference needs to cost $675. Personally, I find Gabe’s answer less than convincing:

Gabe Lyons

The best speakers and the most interesting venues are not cheap. The admission to Q events usually runs a steep $675. It’s not $3-7k for TED Talks admission, but it’s a lot for cash-strapped churches.

A sitting area at the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

“Well, we try to run our organization in a sustainable way,” Lyons explains.  He notes that there are ways to make an event less expensive—hosting in a church for free, for example. “We could do that in Northern Virginia, and save $75,000, but instead we choose to host it right at the center of it DC on Constitution Avenue at the Andrew Mellon auditorium. We think the medium is the message in a lot of ways.”

We think [lower registration costs] would likely take away from the intentionality of everybody there–relationships we want to see cultivated. Our goal is not to grow something to be really big, our goal is just to talk about serious topics and to get people together who are working on these topics and want education on it and collaboration with other leaders.” He goes on to explain that Q presentations are usually released afterwards for those that weren’t able to attend.

Read the rest of the interview: Interview with Gabe Lyons on Q and the Future of Theological Education « The Burner.

Have you been to Q? If so, was it worth the money? If not, has the registration cost kept you away?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • If you don’t like the price, you don’t have to go. Why do you charge $20 for your book? You have been in ministry long enough.

  • Patrick S

    Based on the comments I’ve read on this blog, lots of people are anxious to pay more for an experience someone else tells them is superior. Actually on second thought, lots of people are only interested in some people paying more so others can enjoy the superior experience. Curious….

  • Robert

    Its dishonest not to mention that Q offers many scholarships and cost deferment. I’ve been several times and the event is very well done and is the kind of conversation the author of this blog says isn’t happening in the Church.

    There is an elitism within some conference participants, but nothing I haven’t seen in other conferences (especially Emergent ones too.)

    It’s a good conference, you should check it out and, if necessary, ask for assistance. Gave is a wonderful, thoughtful leader in the Church.

  • I dont go because of the cost. I won’t go because of the cost.

    What are the odds I could find Q stuff on The Pirate Bay?

  • I’ve never even heard of it.

  • Makeesha

    choking on my toast. $675!

  • I guess it depends. Q in April is not worth $675 for me. This month’s Q Sessions with Eugene Peterson most definitely was. It was a powerful two days. The venue was great. And there was free, delicious food which definitely helped stretch my meager expense account.

  • John Musick

    $75,000.00 for venue costs?
    Registration costs purposely inflated to create “intentionality.”
    Choosing New York to be with the unevangelized as compared to,
    let’s say…Madison, Wisconsin?

    Hmmm. Are these examples of the ideas one can get from their $2000.00 conference experience?

  • What is the message delivered by huge costs and glitzy venues in the centers of America’s locations of power and prestige?

    The message seems to be, “We will ring out every last drop of Christendom before we give up our place as the religion of pride and dominance in this country.”

  • Eric

    I emailed Gabe directly last year and he came up with some similar reason. As a pastor of a medium sized hunch with a $230,000 total budget, this type of “continuing Ed” is waaaaaay out of reach. I can’t believe it’s necessary to be this expensive.

  • Nathan

    I think they choose locations based on their correlation with the focus/mood of the moment. It’s an election year, so they want to go to DC and connect with the structures/people there that they will be talking about and reflecting on. Witness the fact that they move the Q conference around to different locations. I can think of other conferences that are always in one place and don’t give any thought to how people will end up spending a ton of money on travel to get to Atlanta or San Diego every year if they live out of the region.

    That being said, I don’t think there is anything untoward in their intentions, etc. And I don’t think any of us can really speak to their motives. I attended one of the smaller Q Sessions last year and it was important not only for my work, but for a host of other things too. AND…if you know how to do the research…you can enjoy the world class reality of NYC pretty affordably.

  • It has long been expensive to be a good Christian. This starts in youth ministry, where camps and short term missions all are expensive but necessary experiences to fit in properly with the rest of one’s momentarily sanctifying peers.

    Events like this are basically just the Dave & Buster’s of ministry, taking the youth camp experience and making it something adults can enjoy too.

  • It’s still all very cheap, however, compared to what it takes to get an advanced education in one’s own Christian faith, which generally requires going to seminary. Not that this is inherently required, it’s just how churches farm out their responsibilities to more established, and expensive, institutions.

  • After watching the two sessions of the Q Sessions with Eugene Peterson, one of my mentors (through his writings) and heroes, and finding that in the interviews Gabe basically just rehashed the content of Peterson’s books, I don’t see how I could justify paying the kind of money they demand, especially when my church’s entire budget is just over 100k per year. And their costs don’t come close to total cost (airfare, lodging, meals, etc.).