A Movement to Restore Culture

This past Friday and Saturday, Daniel and I attended the Blue Conference at our church, Fairfax Community Church. This was the second year that the church held this conference, but it was our first time to attend. It was difficult for me to get a day off of work during the middle of busy season, but I made it happen because I was so drawn to the ideas and message of the conference. As the title of this post suggests, the Blue Conference is designed to facilitate conversations about a movement to restore culture – using our vocations that are a part of a specific channel of culture to do our part to bring the story and work of God into the world. The seven channels of culture that the conference offered were business, government, arts & entertainment, media, church, social, and education.


I was in the business channel, and Daniel was in the media channel. Each person attending the conference was able to hear each speaker – the channels were only divided up for a networking event over lunch on Friday.

The conference started with worship music both Friday and Saturday morning. Friday was broken into five sessions: four speakers in the morning, a networking lunch, two speakers in the afternoon and a panel discussion, two speakers in the later afternoon along with a mini concert by Jon McLaughlin, and one speaker and one panel discussion in the evening along with a unique poetry session by Amena Brown with her DJ husband DJ Opdiggy. The Saturday morning session was another three speakers and panel, and then the conference closed out with another mini concert by Jon and some more worship music. Yes, it was an extremely packed couple of days, but I learned SO MUCH from these amazing speakers. Here were some of my favorite speakers along with a summary of what I learned from them:

Ralph Winter

Ralph Winter is a producer of several blockbusters including four of the X-Men movies, Planet of the Apes, and two Fantastic Four movies. He is currently the Executive Producer of The Giver which is currently in production.

There won’t be many times in my life where I’ll get to hear a Hollywood producer speak, and there will be even fewer times it will be one who is a Christian. Ralph discussed how we as Christians need excellence in our work that shocks culture. For example, he believes that instead of creating a “Christian” movie that will bring in a limited audience, it is better to create a great movie that asks great questions without the Christian label so that it will bring in a wide range of people. “We need excellence in our work that shocks culture.” Great stories are about the journey (or the process) rather than the ending because the journey is what excites us.

Ralph’s talk really got me thinking about my story and how it is important that I make sure I am focusing on bringing excellence to my workplace, home, and social life to get people asking questions.

Jess & Monica

These women have a design blog and design TV show on the Live Well network called Knock It Off.

Jess and Monica’s main topic of discussion was the home and how it is meant to be a tool to foster community. They talked about how we should make our homes a place that we are comfortable inviting people into, but we should not worry about appearances so much so that it keeps us from inviting people in. Additionally, they discussed how a home should also be a place of retreat and rest as long as it does not become a place where you isolate yourself from community.

“Hospitality isn’t about me. It’s about who comes into my home. It’s about listening and connecting and encouraging.” (The Nester  blog)

“When we become completely free from the need to judge, we will also become completely free of the fear of being judged.” (Henri Nouwen)

Hans Hess

Hans is the founder and CEO of Elevation Burger. His main topic of discussion was his work and his passion: changing the factory farm system. He asked the question, “How do we feed the world in a way that honors God?” The points he made about the system that creates the food that we eat were incredibly interesting, and I am definitely hoping to read some more books on this topic. But the part of his discussion that impacted me the most was his introduction about work in general. Work is integral, not incidental, to God’s work in the world, and the goal of work is to take care of those God has placed in front of you. When figuring out our passion and work in the world, he suggests that we should look for brokenness – a wrong that needs to be righted. For Hans this meant helping to right some wrongs in the food production system by opening up Elevation Burger, which offers organic, grass-fed beef.

Hans concluded with the following quote: “Our vocations are precisely how we share in the suffering of the cross.” This statement alone completely changes how I view my career!

Dan Styf

Dan is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Piedmont WellStar Health Plan. He discussed healthcare economics and how many health systems are set up to profit from the very thing they exist to cure: sickness.  Dan is passionate about implementing a system that encourages health by profiting from keeping people healthy.

Steven Garber

Steve is the founder and principal of The Washington Institute. He recently published a book called Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, which I really look forward to reading now that I’ve heard him speak about that topic. His passion is “creating businesses the way they are meant to be”.

And More…

A major highlight was Jon McLaughlin’s concerts. I have enjoyed his music for several years, and it was really neat to get to see him perform live in my own church.


One of my favorite sessions was the panel discussion that focused on the speakers from the media/entertainment sector. It was so inspiring to hear these successful men and women discuss their stories and backgrounds.


Leaving the church on Saturday, I felt like my entire view of career and work was revamped.  I would highly, highly recommend attending this conference next year if you live in the DC/MD/VA area. They have already set April 24-25th, 2015 as the dates!