By Jennifer Johnson
In 2005, three former PayPal employees launched YouTube. Today more than 800 million people, 70 percent of whom live outside the United States, visit the site each month to watch more than 4 billion hours of its free content. People also upload 72 hours of footage every minute, making YouTube the site for video sharing.
In 2007, four investors launched GodTube. It grew quickly to almost 3 million users before dropping to 690,000 in 2009. The site was rebranded as a social network named Tangle, and it was acquired by Salem Communications a year later.
In his excellent book The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons describes several categories of believers. Cultural Christians fail to differentiate between their faith and the mainstream, preferring to blend in. Separatist believers, on the other hand, “play the antagonist, unconcerned about the social consequences of their tactics.” This may mean turning every encounter into an opportunity for evangelism, confronting secularists who are determined to ignore our nation’s “Christian heritage,” or retreating into enclaves populated only by other believers.
GodTube is a classic example of separatist behavior. Instead of just putting their good stuff on YouTube, where people in need of God might actually see it, the GodTube team created their own niche network with content they could control. Instead of using their resources to create compelling video that could reach millions of people, they poured money and time into creating an alternate platform designed for people who already believe.
Fortunately, there is a third type of Christian—the restorer. These people “envision the world as it was meant to be and they work toward that vision,” Lyons writes. “They recognize that the world will not be completely healed until Christ’s return, but they believe the process begins now as we partner with God. . . . They don’t separate from the world or blend in; rather, they thoughtfully engage.”
City on a Hill grew out of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville—it was birthed by the Restoration Movement. It is a ministry using stories of beauty, grace, and hope to share Jesus, a ministry that epitomizes the new restorers. These creative filmmakers are challenging perceptions of Christianity. They’re using the language of our culture to speak truth. And now they’re educating a generation to tell the old, old story in new ways. (Click to see related story.)
They’re partnering with God to share the narrative of grace, and they’re using YouTube to do it. Don’t tell Salem.