Taking Church to YouTube

YouTube's 20 million visitors will soon greet Christian sermons and worship services on the popular video-sharing website.
( [email protected] ) Jan 15, 2007 02:08 PM EST

YouTube's 20 million visitors will soon greet Christian sermons and worship services on the popular video-sharing website.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams plans to YouTube his sermons and spark an initiative that will get other churches to advertise the contemporary style of their services.

The Church of England aims to curb declining numbers of young faces and churchgoers with its latest "Fresh Expression" – reaching the internet generation through YouTube, the U.K.-based Sunday Telegraph reported.

"The potential of YouTube is enormous," a Lambeth Palace spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph. "It provides limitless access to what any minister has to say. You have to preach where people are listening."

Williams launched Fresh Expressions in 2004 to introduce new and different ways of being church in a changing culture. Fresh expressions of church, according to its website, begin where people are and make church and community there.

And people are at YouTube.

Time magazine voted YouTube the Invention of the Year for 2006 for creating a "new way for millions of people to entertain, educate, shock, rock and grok one another." Up to 100 million clips are viewed daily on the website.

As users add some 70,000 clips daily to the "vidcast" site, the Church of England is seeing a continual drop in numbers and believers. And it's not temporary or accidental, according to researcher Dr. David Voas, who oversaw a study at the University of Manchester on the declining belief in God.

It's a generational decline.

While the Church of England lost 100,000 worshippers between 2000 and 2002, the proportion of people who believe in God is actually declining faster than church attendance.

Parents in Britain have only a 50-50 chance of passing their belief on to their children, the study reported.

YouTube may provide the way to reach the younger generation.

"If 'church' is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ at the heart of every expression of Christian life in common," Williams stated on the Fresh Expression website.

Already, the Fresh Expressions team released short films on YouTube to introduce two dioceses using "fresh expressions" for worship.