If you’re looking for an audience, YouTube is the place to be. After all, everyone uses YouTube. Well, maybe not everyone, but with over 2 billion users each month, it might be safe to say almost everybody. If that’s not reason enough for your church to check out this platform, here are a few more:
- Approximately 90% of US internet users between the ages of 18 and 44 access YouTube.
- People are watching more than 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day.
- 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- YouTube is the second most popular social media platform.
- The majority of marketers consider YouTube to be the most effective video marketing platform.
- More than half of businesses use YouTube to post video content.
- Users navigate YouTube in 80 languages.
The site has a worldwide audience and, seemingly, universal appeal. It makes sense that churches also use YouTube for ministry. Thankfully, it is a relatively easy platform to learn. To start a YouTube channel is relatively easy: create an account, customize it and upload content. The real challenge with YouTube is getting the views, and that begins with creating great content.
Here are a few ideas for attention grabbing videos:
Create a YouTube ministry team. Consider enlisting youth and even kids — naturally, with permission from their parents. According to some reports, about 80% of U.S. parents say that their kids (ages 11 and under) watch YouTube videos. (Some of those kids have their own channels.) Enlist the help of your young people and empower them to take ownership of a church ministry.
Know what’s popular or trending. While much will be unappealing or unsuitable, you can still learn a lot about content that works and what makes it succeed. Think creatively to incorporate appropriate popular or trending styles of content into your creations. For example: Your church wants to produce a video that helps viewers get to know your church staff. Ask staff to introduce their pets to capitalize on the popularity of animal videos.
Don’t be afraid of (a little) controversy. Passions generate views. Create videos that address serious issues such as poverty, social justice and world hunger. Just be aware that controversial topics may generate equally controversial comments. They can also open the door to meaningful, often necessary online conversations. Regulate settings for commenting, and monitor what followers post for inappropriate content.
Lighten up. Everyone needs a little comedic relief now and then. Don’t hesitate to occasionally be silly or funny. Safe prank videos, funny skits and clean comedy are great ways to engage an audience. Utilize the talent within your church and ask for referrals. You may have a Christian comedian in your congregation just waiting for a big break.
Make it personal. Personal interest videos are always popular. Consider enlisting members to create content about their hobbies or career interests. For example, you could film a carpenter creating a prayer box for the church or a florist demonstrating how to create an altar arrangement.
Educate your audience. In addition to sermons, post online Bible studies and/or vlogs (video blogs) with spiritual messages. Include links to related printable resources in the description of your video or in the comments. Think in terms of “how to,” such as how to stay motivated in the spiritual disciplines or how to easily memorize scripture.
Make it musical (with caution). Music videos are an ever-popular form of content on YouTube. Producing Christian music videos, especially with original content, is a great way to gain views, but caution is needed. Churches need to be ethically above reproach. Review copyright laws and obtain the appropriate license(s) before posting.
YouTube is a great way to increase your online audience, provide spiritual resources for a large number of people and promote your church. Given this year’s social distancing requirements and the closing of church buildings all over the world, most churches have recognized the value of posting online services on YouTube or other social media platforms.
To harness its full power, think outside the box or outside the sanctuary. There’s no better time. Learn more about YouTube, and make it a ministry instead of just a tool.
Tricia K. Brown is a writer, editor, keynote speaker and Bible teacher. In addition to being a wife and mother of four sons, she is the sole proprietor of The Girls Get Together, where she and her team provide women's event programs for churches and other organizations.