About a month ago I started a YouTube channel. It’s something of an experiment for me, but here are four reasons (or “hunches”) that motivated me:
1) There are lots, and lots, and lots (and lots) of people who will neither attend a church service nor read a theology book, but nonetheless are interested in ultimate, philosophical, and religious questions. For better or worse, people are taking such questions to YouTube. So YouTube is a mission field. It’s a strategy to engage people by going where they already are.
2) It seems to me that theology is pretty sorely underrepresented on YouTube. YouTube continues to explode; it’s a massive space. From my vantage point, and this is admittedly a subjective take, apologetics is better represented on YouTube (though still not enough), and there are lots of devotional channels, but theology is very sparse. So we need some more theology on YouTube (my channel is a mixture of both theology and apologetics).
3) Everyone is starting podcasts these days, and in some respects that is a more natural medium for theology and apologetics. For instance, podcasts can be listened to during workouts, driving, etc., which is a huge advantage. Nonetheless, YouTube has some unique benefits as well. Perhaps the most obvious is having video as well as audio—being seen can create a more personal connection, for instance. But the most significant benefit of YouTube, at least for me, is that it’s a search engine (in fact, the second largest search engine in the world). This means that the content you are putting out there can stay in circulation more permanently, and good videos that fill a niche can become highly accessible as they intersect with the algorithms YouTube uses.
4) But none of this is the primary reason I started a YouTube channel. The main reason is, basically, I find it fun. I watch apologetics stuff on YouTube all the time, nearly daily, and I think about apologetics seemingly constantly, so it felt somewhat natural to enter into that space myself. And I kind of enjoy learning about videography, lighting, etc. I regard it as a hobby. Plus, it gives me an occasion to interview people whose work I have appreciated.
Lessons Learned So Far
Thus far I have uploaded 10 videos and feel like I’ve gotten a basic system down, though it’s unbelievable how much work goes into it, and how many basic things I still need to learn (my “to do” list keeps expanding). I plan to upload roughly one video per week moving forward.
I’ve been surprised how vulnerable it has felt. I worry a lot about coming across as overly intellectual or self-promotional. I’m trying to push past that and find the right balance of putting myself out there without it being about me. I genuinely want it to be a ministry, a resource that will serve those who watch it.
At the same time, I do want the channel to grow, of course. When I started, I set the personal goals of 1K subscribers after 1 year, and 5k after 2 years; then after that I have some longer-term goals that involve building out Truth Unites into a website and broader ministry. So it’s very much a “soft launch.” Everyone says you have just dive in and learn as you go, so that is what I’m doing. After one month I’m currently at 718 subscribers, so I’m doing moderately well relative to my own goals. If you would support what I’m doing (e.g., subscribe, interact with videos you think are helpful, etc.), it would mean a lot to me. Thank you!
Here are some of the videos currently “on deck:”
- Interview with William Lane Craig on his new book on the atonement
- Were the Old Atheists More Honest Than the New Atheists? Nietzsche Versus Sam Harris on Morality and Meaning
- Lawrence Krauss’ Three Definitions of the Word “Nothing” (And Why None of Them Ultimately Work)
- Why “Ecumenical” is Not a Bad Word
- Why Are Evangelical Converting to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy?
- Would Saint Augustine Embrace Evolution?
- Why Stephen Pinker is Wrong About Religion
- What Happens When We Die?
- Why Christians Should Care About Climate Change
- How Practicing Intentional Gratitude Changed My Life
Why “Truth Unites?”
One last thing: why do I call it Truth Unites, and what am I trying to accomplish? The elevator speech is simply this: we live in a world that is rapidly polarizing. This is concerning, and the gospel calls us to resist it. But we cannot do so simply by being nice. We need intellectual depth and rigor to carve out a healthy, unifying pathway forward (both in the church and in the broader culture). Truth is the most effective strategy for unity, and unity is the most powerful celebration of truth.
Truth Unites thus has a two-fold focus: as a theological resource to the church, and as an apologetics voice to our broader culture. Both of these draw from my area of academic specialization, historical theology. I believe that theological retrieval is one of the best ways to help shore up evangelical theology in a time of fragmentation and disenchantment. I also believe that theological retrieval helps us avoid divorcing apologetics from theology, and thereby encourages a stronger, more well-rounded apologetic. I have a book releasing in Fall 2021 that argues that argues for an approach to apologetics that is more sensitive to beauty, narrative, and probability. (I will share more about the book in February 2021.)