Day: March 30, 2009

Taking our place on the digital stage

Tuesday I head to Knoxville to participate in an unusual event for a Baptist preacher.  I’ll be a roundtable discussion leader at A Public Conversation on Web Journalism.  Other speakers include local newspaper editors, executives from the media giant Scripps (HGTV, Food Network, etc), and other online creators of advertising, and journalism sites.

How did I get involved?  My friend and University of Tennessee professor, Jim Stovall, asked me to talk to students about this blog and the other sites I edit, and  The student radio station has already scheduled an interview with me, and I’ll speak to a large journalism class on Thursday afternoon.

As part of this meeting, we’re also rolling out, an independent news site that will be written by college and university journalism students and invited guest authors. is up now, but with content that Jim and I created.  Eventually, the entire site will feature student writing, photographs, and videos.

Jeffrey Arnett’s book, Emerging Adulthood, pointed out that while 79% of emerging adults believe in a higher power guiding their lives, only 25% think attending religious services is Very Important or Quite Important; 42% said Not Important at all.

In other words, if we’re going to have a faith conversation with young, emerging adults, we are not going to have it within the church because young adults are not there.  Dan Kimball and Dave Kinnaman told us that in their books, too.

So, we’re taking the faith and culture conversation to the campus, asking students to write faith-and-culture news for their peers.  Should be an interesting experience, and I’m looking forward to what I’m going to learn from the students.

Church needs to do more of this — take the conversation where people really work and live.  And, the conversation can’t be all about us, it has to be a real conversation. will be an open forum for talking to one another about faith issues of all kinds, even unpopular ones including issues involving spiritualities other than Christian.

We who follow Jesus must take our place on the digital stage with others who feel just as passionately about their faith, or lack of it, as we do about ours.  Our ideas, our theologies, and our Christian points of view, must be able to hold their own in the online conversation.  If we’re afraid of that, then we have already lost our place in the public forum of ideas.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’ll be twittering and posting from the event, so stay tuned.  What do you think of this project?  What concerns do you have?  Let me hear from you because I value your input.  Thanks.