Missionary YouTube channels
Videos can enhance the age-old tradition of missionary newsletters
The beloved newsletter
Newsletters have been a staple of missionary culture for about 2,000 years. From the Apostle Paul to modern missions, we look back on and delight in thought-provoking letters from missionaries. Newsletters from eras past reflected the most advanced communication technology of the day: pen, paper, and the post. Imagine how much more we would know about the ministries and lives of past missionaries if we had video and audio recordings!
In recent decades, technology has dramatically changed communication. What took months now happens in seconds. Comments, direct messages, and the sharing of posts multiply the reach of information. We can now convey more than words and photos alone. I want to encourage you to consider the possibilities afforded to us now.
In the early 2000s, YouTube took off. What began as a place for people to share home videos has morphed into a mass-communication tool where anyone with an internet connection can access videos uploaded by anyone else, and these videos can be preserved for antiquity. There are now professional “YouTubers” who earn a living producing and uploading content. YouTube is a major storytelling platform that fosters engagement from its community. You can tell any story you want, just like you can with a written letter, but richer.
Video blogs, known as “vlogs,” and topical video series are some of the most successful types of channels on YouTube. Most vloggers post videos regularly and frequently. The typical missionary newsletter could conceptually fall under the vlog and/or topical series categories. Like these categories, our newsletters describe major events, daily life, unique ideas, or situations in a regular and predictable fashion.
Why video newsletters?
The advantage videos have over letters is the level of context. With video, you can hear tone of voice, see facial expressions, and much more than what you can with just words on a page.
As advocates for the lost in Japan, we have the responsibility to maximize our communications. Sharing videos is an effective way to do this. Through video, we can more accurately represent those with whom and to whom we minister. We can communicate the sights, sounds, and emotions better than all the synonyms in the world can capture. These stories inform our networks, encourage those who support us, and may even inspire future generations of missionaries.
On the receiving end, our families, home churches, and supporters often enjoy seeing videos of you and your life. They will feel more connected and relate more easily to you. Video updates help those who are investing in your ministry to understand more fully what their support (prayer and financial) has helped to accomplish through you. Videos are also a fun way to include the whole family. Family is a major avenue for the gospel in Japan, so why not include them too?
You have the tools
We all know the challenge of managing a regular newsletter: write it, add some photos, and send it out to a mailing list. For those of us who try to keep to a regular schedule, you might relate to the feeling when a newsletter is due tomorrow and you throw it together at one hour to midnight. We put pressure on ourselves to send out these expert letters that require quality stories, polished formatting, and catchy headings. What if all you had to do was to record a short video and click “upload”?
These days many of us have access to a smartphone. These typically have pre-installed applications that can turn simple footage into a great video. Consider: if you were to capture a few recordings throughout the month, take a quick video of yourself explaining what happened that month, and stitch that together in an app, do you think you might be able to say more with less effort? Your month could be summed up in a two- to ten-minute video. Compare that to the experience of writing a two-page letter. Through YouTube and other social media platforms, such as Facebook groups and Instagram, you can also do livestreams and engage viewers in real-time. That livestream is saved and can become a regular video on your account or channel as well.
To help you get started, on my YouTube channel I’ve created a playlist of videos of YouTube professionals explaining the basics of how to create videos on your phone, recording how-to’s, and simple editing:
https://bit.ly/2VEMpAK If you want to learn more, you can always search for tips in the YouTube search bar or click on related videos that YouTube suggests.