Just last night, I spent some time listening to a preacher who lives three time zones and 2,700 miles away from me. It’s not unusual. That kind of thing is going on all the time. Thanks to something called YouTube, invented by three web wizards in SoCal, millions of people everyday watch all kinds of videos–from videos of their grandkids, to sports clips, to educational lectures. In the Web 2.0 gen, YouTube is a staple of Internet intake. What does this mean for the church? Maybe, a better way of asking this is “What should this mean for the church?”
The Power of YouTube
The point of this post is simple: you should YouTube your church. Why? One simple reason: YouTube is an incredibly powerful tool. Christians can and should harness this power potential for redemptive purposes.
- Consider some metrics. These come from 2009 statistics compiled by Google. YouTube has over 2,400,000 unique visitors every day. Every American who visits YouTube spends an average of four hours per month watching YouTube videos. If you don’t personally watch that much yourself, you can be pretty sure that someone is making up the difference for you. For every one minute of time that elapses, ten hours of video get uploaded to YouTube. In other words, you’ve probably spent at least thirty seconds reading to this point in the article. In the time that it took you to do so, the equivalent running time of three full-length films was uploaded to YouTube. There’s a lot of stuff on YouTube and a whole lot of people are watching it.
- Consider the wide reach of YouTube. YouTube is available anywhere there is Internet. Whether it’s a satellite connection from a ranch in Montana to a bustling metropolitan corner of Manilla, YouTube is there. YouTube is also there for shut-ins, invalids, and vacationers who want to stay connected to your preaching series, but aren’t able to make it to church on a particular Sunday.
- Consider the power of video. Unarguable fact: video is powerful. Obviously, it’s not merely the combination of moving picture and sound on a screen that has power. Granted, the video has to be done right. When it is, the result can be revolutionary.
- Consider the ROI of YouTube. How can you deploy a message to every corner of the world without breaking the church budget? YouTube. With the investment of a few cameras (today, these are inexpensive) and the investment of some time uploading and editing the videos, you can instantly engage the power of YouTube for your church. The return on investment may not be monetary, but it is invaluable.
Ways to Use YouTube
Lest you be a little bit too pumped about the power of YouTube, let me address a misconception. Many people think that YouTube is a great idea, and think they can proceed to upload an entire sermon series. Maybe. But only if your sermons are 1) ten minutes or less, or 2) you don’t mind chopping a long sermon into ten minute segments. Alas, YouTube has a ten-minute time limit on video uploads. There is a way to post entire sermon videos online, and we think it’s a great idea (more on that in a future post), but not on YouTube. However, YouTube can be used in other powerful ways. Here is how you can YouTube your church.
- Promotion. In order to promote upcoming events in the life of your church, make a short video about it. A promotional clip can go a long way in gaining supporting and stirring up excitement.
- Sermon clips or short challenges. YouTube is great for posting short devotional talks or brief excerpts from sermons.
- Church introductory video. Many churches have made short videos that introduce their church to the community or to website visitors. Posting these to YouTube is a great idea.
- Church life. Grab a camera and do a candid around church someday. Putting together a video about church life is something that people from your church will love to watch. Those who may be interested in your church will benefit from an inside look at how your church functions.
- Testimonies. One way to harness the power of YouTube is to record people’s testimonies and, with their permission, put them on YouTube. One of the most compelling forms of witness and inspiration is hearing another believer’s journey.
- Ministry highlights or recent events. Did your church just have an awesome Easter cantata? Put some snippets on YouTube. Maybe VBS this summer is going to be a blast. After it’s done, upload some videos from the week. Want to feature your incredible youth ministry? Make a video and put it on YouTube. Brief, focused and intentional videos make perfect YouTube uploads.
YouTube isn’t church. And YouTube probably won’t propel your church to hit the 20,000 member mark in two weeks. YouTube is a tool. It’s a tool to broadcast your ministry in innovative ways and through engaging means. Because of YouTube’s power and potential, it can enhance your ministry and further the kingdom.