The Easter message can be told and shared in so many ways

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Easter  has come and gone this year, but Christians should contemplate — at least for a minute — every day what Easter represents. I don’t solely mean the scriptural account and the theological truths that emanate from that account and down through the epistles. A correct biblical understanding is, of course, important.

What I need more of in my life — and I suspect we all do — is to see life-changing events that reveal the power of the cross and the resurrection. And Christians need to share the biblical understanding of it and the stories that show that power in people’s lives. I have been seeing lots of this lately.

On Sunday, I saw a link on Twitter about the true message of Easter. So I clicked the link and was pleasantly surprised to see an opinion column in the Orange County Register newspaper accompanied by a clever cartoon that spoke tremendous truth in such a simple way. I admire Mark Landsbaum for having the courage to publish such a piece. And I admire the newspaper for having the courage to allow one of their own to have the freedom to write what was on his mind and heart.

Click the link in the tweet below and read.

My recent trip to the bush of Kenya showed me and my friends the power that Christ’s resurrection can have in any life. Christians have an appreciation for that power, but to sit on dusty benches in a half-bulit church on the other side of the world and see a broken man make Jesus the Lord of his life is distinctly profound. All of us who were there see Jesus just a little differently. At least I do. He increased my faith and my trust in Him that day. As my good friend Brian Hanson says in the video below, these are things you only read about.


Brian Hanson Kenya Story (2016-03-20) from Grace Baptist Ch, Cedarville OH on Vimeo.

I was grateful to hear Brian’s story because he added details that I left out of my blog account, which you can read at the link below.

My prayer is that this experience will continue an upward trajectory of abiding in Christ more deeply, and that I will meditate on what it means for him to be the vine and for me to be a branch. Heard a great message on that in chapel Wednesday.

Telling these true redemption stories is needed. People connect to stories. That’s why Jesus told so many of them. There are great storytellers in the world, but more need to be told. Encouraging my students to do so is a developing passion I have. I am also developing a passion for wanting to do the same. I pray that I can return to Kenya sooner than I can imagine right now. There are stories in the bush that need to be shared like the one I am sharing here. And this story isn’t over. My prayer is that I will be able to tell the next chapter in this story and others like it to a wider audience if that’s in God’s plan for my life. If not, I pray someone else does.

And a belated Happy Easter.

Establishing connections in Kenya

Jet lag lingers this week, but I remain excited over the spring-break trip I just took to Kenya with two friends from Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville.

Dustin Hughes, an attorney in Springfield, has been going on ministry trips to Kenya for many years and has built strong relationships with churches and a law school in Eldoret. Brian Hanson, who serves as a chaplain to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Central State football team, the Ohio statehouse and more, joined us on the trip and was able to share the gospel in some places most people don’t know exist. We had fantastic fellowship together and with many of the Kenyans we were there to serve and to work alongside.

One of my goals is to establish relationships abroad with journalism and communication programs. In Nairobi, I visited Daystar University, a Christian school, and Multimdedia University, a state-run school. I had great exploratory meetings with both schools, and both schools invited me lecture in a class. I greatly enjoyed those opportunities. I have much to discuss with my department colleagues and see where these conversations and ideas might lead. My hope is to develop study abroad opportunities for Cedarville students. And if African students can spend a semester here, that would be great too.

I also blogged during our trip. We called the site Ujumbe Kenya. Ujumbe can translate to mission in Swahili. If you’d like to read about our trip and the mighty things God did on our trip into the bush, click here.

Doing great journalism has been and always will be the answer

Journalism is not dying. It’s thriving on a new ground floor. It’s a time of great transtion that today’s students will look back on in 20 years and know they played a part.

I always feel this way when I stop and look at all this is avaialable and possible in the digital age. There are more tools than any of us know how to use. But sometimes the traditional ways are so prevalent that I wonder if enough newsroom leaders are seeing the potential.

Newsrooms layoffs continue, but that’s not the work of journalists. That’s the work of the business side that sells advertising and makes all of the necessary dollars-and-cents decisions.
So how do newsrooms affect the business side without getting their hands dirty? It’s always been clear to me that producing great journalism is the key because it is the commodity we’re all trying to sell.
The question these days is how. Anytime I come across journalists with lots of newsroom cred talking about this I like to share it.

Watch the video below that I found on Steve Buttry’s blog The Buttry Diary. Dean Baquet, the  executive editor of the New York Times, spoke at LSU and discusses the difference between mission and tradition. He says mission is taking on big, ambitious projects and deciding whether to investigate them or explain them. And part of that mission is covering the mundane but working hard to make it more interesting than in the past.

Here are his three key lessons if you don’t have time to watch it now.

Lesson 1: Journalists have to lead the business to remake its future. Stay independendt of advertising, but create new forms of storytelling that advertisers will line up to sponsor.

Lesson 2: Print is great, but it is just another platform. Newsroom meetings should be now-focused.  What are the biggest stories now, not tonight when we finish the print edition?

Lesson 3: Don’t be shy about the need to understand your readers. Understand the best ways to get the best coverage to most of the people. Get more and more sophisticated to know when people want to read what. Personalize  digital reports just like we personalize print sections.

Baquet adds, “Do what’s important, do it well and you will be read.”

  • Be fresh and open to new ideas.
  • Don’t get stuck in tradition.
  • Most of what we do is actually not mission-driven, it’s just tradition.
  • Say yes more often than not.

Dean Baquet from LSU Manship School on Vimeo.

So how does this happen? We have to not care about the platform. We have to go with what best tells the story. And we must continue to develop a mindset that looks at stories like the list in the Tweet below. It’s a list by Tom Rosenstiel that empasizes doing great journalism. Simply applying these concepts will help a newsroom grow the business by building a more loyal audience.