Creating on-demand video content won’t grow your church… but people far from God need you to make it a priority.
We’ve all seen the statistics on church decline, and if you’re like most church leaders it breaks your heart. We got into this business because we couldn’t imagine a better mission to give our lives to than helping people discover a life changing relationship with Jesus.
We’d love to see a meaningful change in these trends. We know things can’t continue on their current trajectory, but nothing seems to be working?
Paul, the Christian killer turned church planter, wrote a letter to Jesus followers in Rome in need of a bit of direction on how people who were outside of their community of believers were going to find their way to Jesus.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” - Romans 10:14-15 NLT
Getting the message of Jesus to people wherever they may be is how Paul intends to achieve his mission, the mission we are now responsible for achieving.
We’re living in a digitally enabled world that Paul couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams. Affordable camera equipment and on demand video sharing platforms like YouTube have given birth to the greatest leap forward in idea sharing since the printing press.
“YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly users across the world and reports having more than 50 million users from the UK alone. Approximately 97% of UK’s YouTube users log in on a monthly basis and in October 2021 users residing in the UK spent 71 minutes per day on the platform. The engagement on YouTube was higher than other popular platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. People spent approximately 43.5 minutes on Netflix per day while they spend 22.7 minutes on Amazon Prime Video and 17 minutes on BBC iPlayer. The demographic which used YouTube the most in the UK are people aged 25–44, comprising 44% of the total number of YouTube users and in 2021 around 24% of YouTube users from the UK were aged between 16 and 24.”
In other words, everyone is watching video content online… tones of it!
People who may never step foot in a church are spending long periods of time online asking, and finding answers to their most pressing questions about life, God, and meaning. They need churches like yours to join that conversation, because we’ve been entrusted with the message of the only way back to their heavenly father.
Many churches upload the live stream of their services to YouTube, but we all know that people are looking for an experience where they are the target audience. People can tell when they’re looking in on a message delivered to someone else rather than created specifically with them in mind. Our messages need to be directed towards the person on the other side of the camera, not only because it’s more engaging but so they know their questions really matter to you.
Here’s where as church leaders we need to decide what’s most important to us. Creating videos to be watched on demand on YouTube may not grow your church… but it will grow THE CHURCH.
What if in order for the church to reach those who feel far from God we have to follow Jesus’ example of giving what we have away knowing that investing in God’s kingdom will be reward enough for us in the end.
If it was your brother or sister, your friend or child who was looking for answers to life’s biggest questions online, (which they almost certainly are), you’d want a church to have given their best to creating videos to help them, right? Even if they never attend or give back to that church.
Your church could be that church!
Everyone is different, and there is so much competing content online. The world needs all of us to produce as many videos sharing the good news of Jesus as possible.
Create videos for people like this because we all need Jesus, and people outside our church aren’t going to hear about him if no one tells them.
So grab a camera, and tell the person on the other side that YouTube video, that our God is for them.
Here are 6 things you can do this week to start reaching an online audience. (And you don’t need a Disney budget or a degree in movie making).
Ask someone to make your online content creation their priority. Find someone who can make great videos and someone who’s brilliant at teaching, then pair them up with the clear task of creating videos about the good news of Jesus that capture peoples attention outside of the church
Tell your church about this vision and ask them to share your content with their friends outside the church (and give you feedback on what kind of videos make that easier for them to do)
Write a list of 10 video ideas you’d like to make, make sure they’re practical and offer something a little unexpected to your audience. Only once you’ve filmed them all should you start a new YouTube channel and post all 10 videos, uploading a new video each week. It’s good for the algorithm and for motivation to do it this way. Don’t use the name of your church for this channel, make a separate channel and call it something that tell’s unchurched people what your channel does
Get in touch with other teachers and content creators and make a plan to partner with each other on some video ideas
Buy a camera and a microphone. Camera equipment has never been more affordable. Putting a little bit of budget into a decent camera (or a tripod if you’re using a newer iPhone), a lens and a microphone will make the process of making videos more fun for you and more watchable for your audience. The higher your video quality is, the longer the videos will last before they feel outdated
Grab a note pad and watch some great YouTube communicators. People like “Peter McKinnon”, “Casey Neistat” and “Matti Haapoja” are a great start. They have mastered the art of connecting with people behind a camera and sharing ideas in a compelling way on YouTube. Highlight some principles you can adopt into your own videos
Matt Banks - Freelance video and media content creator with the Further Faster Network