Evangel Communications Department Alumni Spotlight: Q & A with Amber Weigand-Buckley
Mon, 07 May 2012 - 11:09 AM CST
Amber Weigand-Buckley, editor for ONCOURSE magazine in Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries, is a 1996 Evangel Communications department alumnus. She graduated as Journalism major with a double minor in English and Biblical Studies.
Over her 15-year tenure at ONCOURSE she has recently received consecutive top honors recognition for Youth Publication of the Year from the Evangelical Press Association. She also is host of OC Soundcheck video podcasts in which she interviews musicians and world-changers from across the country who are making a difference for Christ in the real world.
Outside of ONCOURSE, Amber has had hundreds of published works and is also a licensed AG minister. She is celebrating almost 18 years of marriage to Brit-native husband Philip. They have three daughters: Saffron, 11; Imogen, 8; and Penelope, 4. They also have 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 parakeets and 5 fish, which complete the menagerie.
Q: Someone told us you've met over 25 famous Christians. Maybe more. Explain!
A: I have worked at ONCOURSE the national youth ministries magazine for almost 15 of 20 years that it's been in publication. In 2010 and 2011, as editor, I was honored as ONCOURSE received Award of Merit for Youth publication going to 160,000 students across the nation. It's definitely been an amazing journey with opportunities to interview and meet people on all levels.
When I first started working at ONCOURSE back in the day I was assigned to do an article about Steven Curtis Chapman and his work with the Angel Tree (angeltree.org), an organization that ministers to children of incarcerated parents. From then on, I just found a love of telling people's stories and using that as a method to get teens to chew on and digest biblical truth and hopefully incorporate that truth into their everyday lives.
In the process I have had the privilege to interview, meet and even befriend hundreds of people, young and old, which are actively making a difference for Jesus on all levels and facets of ministry. The true beauty of it at the end of the day is that it's not about fame or a compiling a who's-who bucket list. It's really about making Christ famous and His grace known through whatever connections or channels I've been given to communicate that. I count it as honor and a tremendous blessing to be able to tell the stories of inspiration that speak into the lives of students and help them as they grow into life-long Christ-disciples and actively look for ways to help the world collide with his love out flowed.
Q: Did you get a little nervous when you first began interviewing nationally known Christian musicians and celebrities?
A: I remember my very first cutting-teeth in person interview with Bob Carlisle of "Butterfly Kisses" fame back in 1997. Even though being on the Lance and having the training laid the groundwork, I was a bit shaky coming into the room as I had this idea of what a journalist should be, and I felt I was walking into this trying to wear big person's clothes that I hadn't quite grown into yet.
I remember just praying, "God I don't know what I'm doing. I may have questions on my page, but I don't have an agenda for this interview. If it needs to be something else, please lead me in that direction and help me ask what you need me to ask. Help the answers that are given be what needs to be communicated. And help this article that takes shape speak to the person it needs to speak to."
In an instant the Holy Spirit put me at ease, and when I sat down Bob treated me as if he'd known me forever-like I was his daughter. I still say that prayer to this day. I also still feel like I'm wearing big person's clothes-but that's OK-they require complete God-reliance and direction to take up the slack.
Q: What is your goal for teens that read the interviews and stories in ONCOURSE?
A: There is a marketing book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point" which sums up the approach I focus on when developing content and scouting interviews for ONCOURSE. It's called "the stickiness factor." It basically says that to make a contagious message memorable, it must contain two elements-presentation (a wow-factor) and structure (strategic repetition).
The wow-hook from featuring Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers in the fall issue of ONCOURSE is heightened because he was playing in the final game of the World Series. The strategic repetition is age-old Bible truth -Josh's own testimony that says to students, even though you might think you have it all, you will struggle and you will fall if you live a moment in your own strength, you truly have nothing without a life fully devoted to Jesus.
The more deliveries I can give them of the same message of TRUTH in different format (web, video, audio) will increase its ability to stick. And if you take that same principle to the next level, hitting the hub groups...teachers, parents, youth pastors at the same time...the message adheres even more.
Q: What caught you by surprise as you began working with singers, managers, and publicists?
A: There are so many artists out there with minister's hearts who are just as talented and even more so in comparison to those in the mainstream and there is every genre represented-from metal to hip-hop to country to blues. There is also a big heart for these artists and publicists to be a service to the local church. In ONCOURSE, we really try to show students how music, specific songs, can be used as a part of the discipleship process.
Q: Some albums seem like "theology late." Is that okay for kids ...in fact, is it even okay for adults?
A: We complain about the negative influence of the media and how much our kids are taking in, but the devil doesn't have to have all the best music or marketing tools. Kids are immersed in the entertainment world-(not that it's good, just a fact of the age of immersion-focused technology and information), and it's a joy to see Christians invading secular space with Bible-based counter-culture ideals
I learned from my days at Evangel University that all truth is God's truth. I believe a truly positive song crafted from a person who has centered his or her life on Jesus will have a God-print that reveals His truth. Sometimes the message is just...you need enjoy this life...It's ok to be silly...you will have a bad day.... Don't try to be someone your not. You might have to dig for it, but the let's think about it in the framework of our Christ-centered worldview exercise is great.
Q: What was your favorite Communications class when you were a student at Evangel?
A: My favorite class was not the one I was most successful at, but the one that brought me the most frustration at the time-Feature Writing with Dr. Cathy Johnson. At times I saw her as the equivalent to my Simon Cowell. My articles would come back looking like road kill - and I would be in tears. Did God really want me to be a writer? Were my parents just trying to save my feelings by telling me that I was good with a pen? She really taught me how to digest criticism and feedback for the greater good and pushed me out of rhetorical mediocrity.
Her influence is bedrock to how I approach the craft of writing and editing. She taught me to always grow in excellence and embrace the mindset of the constant learner. Now I am honored to have a red pen of my own and am not afraid to use it. I want to always yield it with careful attention to propelling a new generation of writers into even greater things.
Q: What do you love about the Evangel University Communications program?
A: I am so blessed to be able to give back to the program that grew me so much by pouring into the lives of the countless Evangel Communications Department interns and Senior Capstone Project student editors that have passed through my care.
When I was a sophomore in my Journalism 2 class at Central High School in Springfield, Mo. I remember my future Communications advisor, Shirley Shedd, taking time to visit me and encourage me on in my gifts. That is when my heart call started to blossom and I set my sights on attending Evangel. For me, there was no other option.
That investment is still solid and flourishing way into my professional career-I love Mrs. Shedd and the current departmental faculty. They have a huge heart to build students, not only for success in their future careers, but also for s uccess in life-in this world and for kingdom to come. That's what it is all about.
Adapted from crusadermedia.com
WEB SITE ONCOURSE.AG.ORG