Monday, January 31, 2011

Who Do American Teens Look To As Role Models?

Photo Credit: Hygiene Matters
"I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
~ Basketball player, Charles Barkley

When Charles Barkley made the above quote in a now famous Nike shoe commercial back in 1993, a number of people faulted him for not viewing himself as a role model and for discounting the effect that he had on the young boys and girls that looked up to him as a basketball star. 

Many rightly claimed (in my opinion) that Barkley and others in the public eye are role models whether they want to be or not.  But the topic of role models does beg a deeper question.  Who SHOULD be role models for children?  Should the primary models for children be the celebrities they see on television or should it be the adults they interact with on a daily basis?

A recent study done by The Barna Group offers some revealing insights as to who, in fact, teenagers view as their primary role models.  Here is some of what Barna learned:
"So who do teenagers name as their role models? Even while limiting the answers to non-parents, family members still comes out on top. The most commonly mentioned role model is a relative—37% of teens named a relation other than their parent as the person they admire most. This is typically a grandparent, but also includes sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

After “family,” teens mention teachers and coaches (11%), friends (9%), and pastors or other religious leaders they know personally (6%).

Notice that a majority of teens indicated that the people they most admire and imitate are those with whom they maintain a personal connection, friendship, or interaction.

Beyond the realm of the people they know personally, entertainers (including musicians and actors) were named by 6% of teens, followed by sports heroes (5%), political leaders (4%), faith leaders (4%), business leaders (1%), authors (1%), science and medical professionals (1%), other artists (1%), and members of the military (1%).

The high-profile leaders most commonly named were President Obama (3%) and Jesus Christ (3%). Other “celebrities” mentioned by multiple teenagers in the study included entertainers Tyra Banks, Rob Dyrdrek, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. The only athletes who earned multiple mentions were LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, Mike Tyson and David Wright. In the spiritual domain, besides Jesus, teens were most likely to admire Mahatma Gandhi and the Pope. Social and business leaders garnering teen attention included Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The writers who captured the imagination of teens included Yumi Tamura (Japanese Manga artist) and Alan Moore (English comic book writer).

Respondents described a wide range of reasons why they named a particular role model. The most common rationale (26%) was the personality traits of that person (e.g., caring about others, being loving and polite, being courageous, and being fun were some of the characteristics mentioned most often). Another factor in teens’ thinking was finding someone to emulate (22%) or that the teen would like to “follow in the footsteps” of their chosen role model.

Encouragement is another reason for teens’ selections (11%), which included those who said the individual “helps me be a better person,” is someone who is “always there for me,” and is the person who is “most interested in my future.” Other reasons: the role model accomplished his or her goals (13%), overcame adversity (9%), works hard (7%), is intelligent (7%), performs humanitarian effort and activism (6%), maintains strong faith (6%), has great talent (5%), and exudes self-confidence (1%). Although not listed often, some teens identified wealth (3%), self-sufficiency (1%), and fame (1%) as the reasons for preferring a specific leader or role model."
While I still think that those in the public eye need to consider how their personal lives can affect the little ones that look up to them, it is good to know that most teens still recognize their family members and others that they interact with each day as the biggest influence on their lives. Since those responding to this survey were not allowed to list their parents as an answer, I think it is fair to assume that "parents" would have been the most frequently mentioned response had that been permitted. 

The media, entertainers, friends, teachers, religious leaders, and coaches can all have a profound influence on the life of a child, but it is still a parent that makes the biggest difference.  The love, support, instruction and guidance from an involved parent can do more for a child than anyone else can provide. To read more about the Barna study click here.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Searching for a Cultural Common Ground

Photo Credit: autowitch
With the proliferation of new forms of media and entertainment options in existence today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture cultural capstones that cut across age, ethnic and cultural divisions. It wasn't that long ago that we all had to read the morning newspaper to learn of the previous evening's sports scores or had to wait until the evening newscast to learn about the events of the day.

With the advent of cable television, the Internet and social media like Twitter and Facebook, we are able to learn about breaking news in real-time.  Not only that but our news and entertainment choices are so varied and diverse that there are few places that "everybody" joins in together.

NPR touches on how this affects our ability to relate to one another across cultural lines:
"American culture is sliced up in so many different ways that what's popular with one group can go virtually unnoticed by another. Univision, for example, is watched by millions of Latinos in the U.S., but millions of other Americans couldn't tell you what channel it's on.

What makes us laugh on TV isn't as broad-based as it once was. At its peak in the mid-1980s, The Cosby Show had 30 million viewers. Today's top-rated sitcom, Two and a Half Men, gets more like 15 million.

Since we're not all watching the same shows, "water-cooler moments" are harder to come by. Dan Schneider, a TV veteran and executive producer for Nickelodeon, says a show like Modern Family is a perfect example. "[It's] a really great comedy that's popular and new that's on the air right now," he says, "but if you go walk around the mall and say, 'Did you see last week's Modern Family?' how many people out of 10 are going to say, 'Yeah, I saw it?' " Schneider believes not that many. "The TV markets are so nichey that even a popular show isn't watched by most people you're going to run into."

In other words, there is no one, dominant cultural conversation.

The same is true for the music industry. Today's best-selling album is selling a lot less than its counterpart of 10 years ago. Rae-Hunter of the Future of Music Coalition says this fragmentation has opened up the world for creators and consumers alike.

"The arrival of the Internet to some degree leveled the playing field, and that allowed a plethora of folks who otherwise would've had no shot of getting on commercial radio to be heard," says Rae-Hunter.

iTunes, webcasts, Pandora: There are many more "pipes" delivering the goods than there used to be, Rae-Hunter says. "It's an amazing time to be a fan."

Fractured media is also turning the advertising industry upside down. Fay Ferguson, is co-CEO of Burrell Communications, an ad agency that designs marketing campaigns aimed at African-American consumers. "It's ushering in a totally different era of communications," Ferguson says.

She says American culture has been fractured for a while. In fact, Burrell Communications was founded on "the principle that black people are not dark-skinned white people." She says the agency knew that African-Americans were a separate, viable market. She says there have always been many American cultures. "But technology has been an enabler," Ferguson says. "So now there's a way to get to these smaller groups efficiently."

Ferguson says targeted marketing is the name of the game now more than ever.

In such a fractured society, is America at risk of losing a common culture? Rosenberg of The Atlantic says maybe. But she also thinks it will make us appreciate the mass cultural events that do occur even more, like the end of the Harry Potter series or Michael Jackson's death.

Rosenberg cites Jackson's death as one of the rare moments that affected millions of people: fans, former fans and those around the world who simply recognized his influence. "It was enormous because we were united in a way that we aren't normally," Rosenberg says. "It added significance to the event."
For as much discussion as there has been about a post-racial America in the wake of President Obama's election over two years ago, there is still much that demonstrates that there are still many cultural distinctives among the various ethnic groups that exist within the United States.  There is no "one size fits all" approach in reaching out to and getting our messages across to the 300 plus million that live in our country.

Though we share a common American culture, how we choose to live in and experience that culture is as diverse as our population.  For those of us in Christian ministry, we must recognize that reaching out to a diverse people means that we must learn about what matters to those we are seeking to reach and to speak in the modes of communication in which they are accustomed to sharing information.  The message may be the same but how it gets shared is radically different than a generation ago.

(h/t to Racialicious)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Perfect Pastor

Photo Credit: ben110
The job of the pastor is a rewarding, yet difficult assignment. Not only are pastors expected to faithfully teach their congregation the Word of God and play a nurturing role in the spiritual lives of others but they are also saddled with a number of expectations that can, at times, require extraordinary powers to fulfill.

Here is a bit of a humorous look at "The Perfect Pastor":
"The perfect pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He works from 8 AM until midnight and is also the church janitor. The perfect pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church. He is 29 years old and has 40 years experience. He never forgets a name and spends most of his time praying to God. Above all, he is handsome.

He also knows when somebody is sick and needs visitation even without anyone telling him about it. He loves to spend time with his family and the perfect pastor has no problem with you dropping in unexpectedly. And he also spends most of his time in preparation to speak God’s Word. He remembers everyone’s birthdate and of course, their anniversary dates as well. Before and after services, he never fails to speak to each person present and will also take the time to listen to you for 15 minutes and pray for each person no less than 10 minutes after listening to them.

The perfect pastor always smiles and tells you what you want to hear. He also goes out to eat after church with each individual family, spreading his time evenly between all, and he also pays for all their meals. The perfect pastor eats nutritiously, gets his rest, exercises daily, and is always there to listen to you night or day. The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church. He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.

The perfect pastor always has time for church council and all of its committees. He never misses the meeting of any church organization and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched. He meets with the all the other pastors in town because they all have so much time on their hands. He also stays focused on the vision of the house. And he attends all the town meetings for PR’s sake. He takes family vacations and attends all the latest church and ministers conferences and listens to your favorite TV preachers and is completely up to date on each prominent TV preacher’s messages. He spends all day each Saturday preparing the Sunday sermon, and he focuses on his family too. He also doesn’t overburden the church finances, so he holds down a full time secular job as well. He never spends your tithes on his children’s Baskin Robins Ice Cream cones." (Author unknown)
Why don't you take a moment today to thank your pastor for the role they play in your life and let them know that you are thankful for them. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

(h/t Bill Reichart via Buzzard Blog)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

David Platt on the Cost of Following Jesus

Photo Credit: euripedies
From David Platt's book, Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream:
"This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor.

But we don't want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. "Jesus wouldn't really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn't literally mean to sell all we have and to give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was..."

And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.

A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just he way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.

But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves."

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Billy Graham Would Have Done Differently

Photo Credit: escapedtowisconsin
One of the most respected men in America, Rev. Billy Graham, is now 92 years old and is approaching his final years on earth. Graham (pictured here with his son, Franklin) has preached to more people in person than anyone else in history. His legacy is rich and his impact is immense.

However, being the humble man that he is, Rev. Graham does have some regrets as he looks back on his ministry and time in the public eye. In a recent interview with Christianity Today, Graham shares about some of the things he would have done differently and gives his assessment of the current state of American evangelicalism.
If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?

Yes, of course. I'd spend more time at home with my family, and I'd study more and preach less. I wouldn't have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn't really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now.

What are the most important issues facing evangelicals today?

I'm grateful for the evangelical resurgence we've seen across the world in the last half-century or so. It truly has been God's doing. It wasn't like this when I first started out, and I'm amazed at what has happened—new evangelical seminaries and organizations and churches, a new generation of leaders committed to the gospel, and so forth. But success is always dangerous, and we need to be alert and avoid becoming the victims of our own success. Will we influence the world for Christ, or will the world influence us?

But the most important issue we face today is the same the church has faced in every century: Will we reach our world for Christ? In other words, will we give priority to Christ's command to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Or will we turn increasingly inward, caught up in our own internal affairs or controversies, or simply becoming more and more comfortable with the status quo? Will we become inner-directed or outer-directed? The central issues of our time aren't economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature, and our calling is to declare Christ's forgiveness and hope and transforming power to a world that does not know him or follow him. May we never forget this."
As I approach my forties and make decisions about how I will choose to spend my time, I appreciate the wisdom that comes from one that has faithfully served the Lord for many decades. It's encouraging to know that some re-examination of personal priorities in my life and decisions to reflect those priorities lead me to believe I'm on the right track. I hope that when I come to the end of my life that it can be said of me that I kept the main things the main things.

(h/t to Scot McKnight)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brennan Manning on a Relationship with Jesus

Photo Credit: L Lemos
From Brennan Manning's book, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God:
"I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

African Americans, Twitter & Troubling Trending Topics

Photo Credit: Miralize
From Patrice J. Williams:
"Here's an interesting fact about Twitter: Black people love it. According to a study by Edison Research, we make up 25 percent of the 17 million (and counting) people who use the social networking site. And here's something else about black people and Twitter: We love to start trends -- trending topics, that is.

Twitter defines trending topics as the "new or newsworthy topics that are occupying the most people's attention on Twitter at any one time." Adding a hashtag (#) to a tweet creates a themed, grouped message. If enough people tweet the same hashtag, it's considered a trending topic.

With African Americans disproportionately represented in the Twitter game, trending topics often originate with and are perpetuated by black folks. According to Edison Research, "many of the 'trending topics' on Twitter on a typical day are reflective of African-American culture, memes and topics." Though many trending topics are about specific people, events or silliness like #liesmentell, #itsnotcheating, etc., the mood has recently shifted into far more ignorant territory. Why is this how we choose to wield our power on Twitter?

...Of course, not all black users embrace these trends, but the way many of us choose to leverage our loud voice on Twitter speaks volumes about us to outsiders looking in. The source of entertainment for some may be fodder for white tweeters.

Writer Choire Sicha, who is white, even admitted on the Awl to being obsessed with what he termed "Black People Twitter" because of our "hilarious" trending topics. I wonder if Sicha, along with millions of other white people on Twitter, finds himself amazed that this is how we choose to use our power on the social networking site.

...It has already been proved that we have a strong-enough presence on Twitter to dominate the conversation, but having that power doesn't matter as much as how we use it. Some trending topics just make you laugh and get you through a rough workday, but they can also educate, bring awareness, and even show advertisers and networks that our shows are bankable, as is the case with The Game.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, top trending topics included #mlk, #mlkday and #ihaveadream. At least for one day, positivity instead of ignorance reigned on "Black People Twitter."
To read Ms. Williams' complete article on, click here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Celebrating the King Holiday

Tomorrow we celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday. For some Americans this holiday holds great significance. For others it doesn't seem to be of relevance. Though it may be hard to believe, the King holiday was actually first signed into law by President Reagan in 1983 and was first celebrated on a national scale over 20 years ago -- in 1986.

When this holiday was first proposed, there was much resistance to it. Some felt that Dr. King should not be recognized when other "more deserving" individuals did not have their own holiday. Only two others had been recognized with their own holiday, George Washington, and another individual that was not even an American, Christopher Columbus. Others were concerned that we already had enough holidays and didn't need another. And, sadly, some were against it simply because they did not believe that any African American should be worthy of such an honor. But even if you're a racist, being against the holiday doesn't make sense. Look at what comedian Chris Rock has to say about it:
"Now if you don't like black people, that's one thing, but what I can't understand is why people ...wouldn't want a day off work. It's not like you have to do something black on that day. You don't have to ready Ebony magazine, you don't have to watch Soul Train, all you have to do is NOT WORK."
The reason why I support the holiday is because it does not just honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Although I believe his accomplishments are worthy of recognition. I challenge you to think of another American that was a non-elected official (i.e. a private citizen) that had a greater impact on the 20th century and beyond. I'm supportive of the holiday because it acknowledges all those in our country's history that have been oppressed, mistreated, and disenfranchised. It remembers King's values of courage, sacrifice, humility, love, compassion and service.

Dr. King was imperfect and was a flawed man (just like me). He had his shortcomings, but he did lead a significant movement of change in a pivotal time in American history. The King holiday should just not be celebrated by African Americans or those that feel they are outside the mainstream. This holiday should be celebrated by all Americans so that we can somberly remember our past and hopefully look towards the future.

I hope you're able to do something this weekend in honor of the King holiday. Go to a parade. Watch a civil rights documentary on PBS. Serve at a homeless shelter. Buy dinner for a single mom. Spend some time with a child. Share the gospel with someone that looks different than you. Do something that might help in displaying God's love to those that need it most.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Martin Luther on Idolatry

Photo Credit: Gabriela Camerotti
From Martin Luther on the topic of idolatry:
"Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Lo, such a man also has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth.
 …So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he possesses great skill, prudence, power, favor, friendship, and honor has also a god, but not this true and only God…Therefore I repeat that the chief explanation of this point is that to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts. …Thus it is with all idolatry; for it consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart.
…Ask and examine your heart diligently, and you will find whether it cleaves to God alone or not. If you have a heart that can expect of Him nothing but what is good, especially in want and distress, and that, moreover, renounces and forsakes everything that is not God, then you have the only true God. If, on the contrary, it cleaves to anything else, of which it expects more good and help than of God, and does not take refuge in Him, but in adversity flees from Him, then you have an idol, another god."
(h/t to Mark Driscoll)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon Issues Statement to Fans

In the midst of increasing speculation regarding the state of the University of Michigan football program, U of M athletic director David Brandon (pictured at left) had the following to say at a press conference earlier today:
"Wolverine Fans,

We are part of an institution that has tradition, and that tradition has to be guarded by men who wear the Block ‘M’ proudly. Who's gonna do it? You, Drew Sharp? You, Michael Rosenberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Rodriguez and you curse our defense. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Rodriguez’s firing, while tragic, probably will win us some games. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, may just get us the Mad Hatter. You don't want the truth because, deep down in places you don't talk about on your blogs, you want me as the AD. You need me as the AD! We use words like Victors, Big House, and Big Ten Championships. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to bandwagon fans who rise and sleep under the very Maize and Blue blanket that I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a winged helmet and take a stance in the trenches. Either way, I don't give a wolverine's rear end what you think you are entitled to."
On completion of his comments, Brandon jumped from behind the podium and attacked Mitch Albom.

Friday, January 07, 2011

25 Requirements for the Next Michigan Football Coach

Photo Credit: Andrew 
Morrell Photography

Here's some humor for my fellow Michigan fans as we anxiously await who will be named the new coach.

This is from columnist Mike Lopresti:
1. The only color you hate worse than scarlet is gray.

2. You promise to ask yourself at least once each day: What would Bo do?

3. You must be able to correctly spell Bennie Oosterbaan.

4. You believe whoever dots the “i” in Script Ohio should go on the TSA terrorist watch list.

5. You know all the words to “Victors” and can satisfactorily explain why the last line of a song about winning the Big Ten goes, “the champions of the West.” You also won’t mind when the band plays it 68 times on any given Saturday.

6. If you consider Legends and Leaders to be goofy titles for the new Big Ten divisions, you’ll keep it to yourself.

7. You consider the three most pressing problems to facing the nation to be the economy, the war and the seven-game losing streak to Ohio State. You’re just not sure of the order.

8. It doesn’t matter where you coached last, so long as you two don’t end up in court.

9. You have never bought any memorabilia from Terrelle Pryor.

10. You agree that the only place Michigan is supposed to give up 52 points in a game in January is at the basketball arena.

11. You voted for former Wolverine Gerald Ford for president.

12. You wouldn’t be caught dead coaching in a vest.

13. If you commit any violations, they will be for overtime parking.

14. You know at least three good Michigan State jokes.

15. You are willing to agree to the following contract clause: You can be terminated for moral turpitude, felony conviction or if Michigan ever loses to Toledo again.

16. You can’t understand why the 100-24 combined score of the past three losses to Ohio State has not been declared a disaster area by the governor.

17. You have always been under the impression that the Seven Wonders of the World included the Big House.

18. You won’t mind that half your fan base wishes you were Jim Harbaugh.

19. Your game plan will not be based on the premise that if your offense scores 40, you might have a chance to win.

20. When you were a kid, you thought your dream date was either Raquel Welch or Ann Arbor.

21. You can explain in terms easily understood by the layman why the devil reincarnate is among us and goes by the alias Jim Tressel.

22. You think Olentangy is a silly name for a river.

23. When you need a good stiff drink at home, you pour it into a Little Brown Jug.

24. All you want is a program your helmets can be proud of.

25. You will fill your staff only with coaches old enough to remember the last time Michigan beat Ohio State.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Homeless Man Finds His Voice

Photo Credit: Ben McLeod
You've probably heard the story of Ted Williams, the homeless Columbus, Ohio man with the smooth radio voice.  Williams, who had previously worked in radio before alcohol and drug problems caught up with him, was spotted by Doral Chenoweth, who works in multimedia for the Columbus Dispatch.

Chenoweth gave Williams a little money and recorded a short video of him which he eventually posted to the Dispatch website.  The clip went viral and now Williams has found work, re-established a relationship with his mother (who he hadn't seen in twenty years) and is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame.  You can view the video below.

This chance encounter isn't all that crazy once you learn about Chenoweth and the type of person he is.  Motivated by his Christian faith, it's not uncommon for him to take time to interact with those that many pass by. tells his story:
"But the reason Chenoweth stopped goes deeper than his job.

It's "standard operating procedure" for him, he said, to stop and talk to people who are homeless, whether he's carrying a camera or not.

"It's part of my faith," he said after some prodding about his motivations. "You may not be able to help someone with money, but you can at least say hello, how you doing, and look at them."

About 14 years ago, Chenoweth said he was assigned to photograph a homeless ministry at New Life United Methodist Church in downtown Columbus. He was so impressed by the ability of the 50-member congregation to help the homeless that he and his wife joined.

The church's pastor said that Chenoweth routinely invites people who are homeless to the church for meals and medical attention. He's also photographed people on the street and displayed their photographs to emphasize their humanity, said the Rev. Jennifer Kimball Casto, New Life's pastor.

When asked if she was surprised by Chenoweth's action, Casto said: "Absolutely not. Doral has a special heart for people who are homeless and in need."

Chenoweth's concern for people goes beyond Columbus, and even the United States. His wife said they are regular Habitat for Humanity volunteers. They've also taken seven trips to Africa with their two children, Cassie, 12, and Kurtis, 10, to serve impoverished communities. Chenoweth has documented many of the trips on his website."
There is a story behind every face and a lot to be learned through the lives of others.  For many of us, the homeless that we see by the side of the road or on the street corner are simply ignored or disregarded.  But for those of us that are Christians, we must remember that each person has inherit value and dignity as image bearers of God.  Each person is worthy of God's love.

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to interact with a number of homeless individuals.  I'm ashamed to say that more times than not I have ignored them and went about my way.  But, through God's grace, there have been instances where I've stopped and offered money or food and, on occasion, had the opportunity to sit for awhile and hear their story.

What I've learned is that the man or woman on the street is no different than me.  They have the same sorts of hopes and dreams and needs in life.  They are someone's son or daughter.  Someone's brother or sister.  They were once a child that didn't dream that one day they'd live on the street.

The homeless are in their predicament because of a variety of reasons.  It could be drug or alcohol addiction or bad choices in life.  It may have been because of a lost job.  Or mental illness.  Or unfairly getting accused of a crime.  Or an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager where their family kicked them to the curb.

As a follower of Christ, Jesus tells me to demonstrate His love to those that I come across.  It's amazing what we can learn when we sit down and hear someone's story.  It's easy for us to decide in our mind that the homeless aren't worthy of our time and attention.  But the story of Ted Williams and Doral Chenoweth demonstrate that there's often more to the story if we stop and take the time to listen.     

Click here if the video player does not show up.