by Alex Reimer
GERMANY – Let me tell you about a time I was almost famous.
A few years ago, some of my friends and I made a YouTube channel. For a year we wrote and produced a short video every two weeks. We tried westerns, we tried superheroes, we dabbled in comedic horror and bad puns. Some of it was funny; everything was original.
For months, our videos got only around 250 views or so, which coincidentally was about how many friends and family members we all had. Then one day, we had a hit.
Tens of thousands of people saw it. They talked about it on Steinbach Radio. An uncredited screenshot was featured in a Buzzfeed article. It captured the cultural zeitgeist. It was…
20 Halloween Costumes for Procrastinators.
Yes, a list video. Exactly the type uncreative, click-bait trash we had been trying to avoid. There wasn’t anything original about it. No scathing critique of popular culture or trends. We were just experimenting, but we stumbled into a way to get the audience we wanted.
Strangely, the success of that video took the wind out of our sails. We realized we didn’t just want a large audience, we wanted a large audience that liked what we liked, that understood our vision. We still made a few more videos, but a part of the joy was gone.
Today, I’m part of a filmmaking/missions team called Soul Catalyst. We are experimenting with reaching out to the larger culture through film. Our goals might sound more holy, but we’re still wrestling with the same problem. Is it possible to engage the internet while still being authentic to our calling?
In case you thought this wasn’t about you, I’d like to suggest that Christianity in general faces this problem, especially in today’s modern online world. Missions theorists talk about how the Apostle Paul focused on the major cities of his day to spread Christianity. Today, the internet is the last major city.
But we avoid it, because we know how empty online fame is. We’ve seen others take the shortcut and we don’t want to sell out the incredible hope and vision we have for a few likes.
And yet, just because it’s easy to do wrong doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing right. The challenge calls us to something higher. To step out of our closed communities and seek an audience with the world, while still holding true to our vision with the help of those same communities.
In the next few weeks, we at Soul Catalyst will be trying to increase our online presence. Obviously not every piece of content will contain our whole vision or be serious and thought provoking. But we want to be intentional about what we are doing. We aren’t trying to start a movement. We are trying to be part of one. We don’t want to build our audience. We want to build God’s.
Join us on the street corners of the last city.
Alex Reimer (Prairie Grove) is an EMC Associate Missionary and a filmmaker who serves with Greater Europe Mission in Kandern, Germany. Check out https://www.soulcatalyst.org.