That was essentially the message of the recent Catholic YouTubers Hangout, the first-of-its-kind online meeting of dozens of Catholics from around the world who met last month about bringing the Gospel to their YouTube channels.
About 50 channels logged on to take part, hailing mostly from the United States, but also with channels joining from places like Italy, Brazil and Spain.
The hangout started as the brainchild of Daniel Glaze, who is one-half of the channel ‘That Catholic Couple’ – the other half is Daniel’s wife, Ana. On their channel, they show their followers all about their life as a young Catholic couple and first-time parents.
Daniel said the idea for the hangout came when he was watching a Catholic YouTube video one day and wondered whether Catholics on YouTube knew each other or ever collaborated.
Steve the Missionary (aka Steven Lewis) of the ‘Steve the Missionary’ channel, and Maria Mitchell, the producer of the ‘Ascension Presents’ channel, had similar questions. Why weren’t there more Catholics on YouTube, the way there were on other social media platforms like Twitter? Why wasn’t there a Catholic community on the platform?
“(We all) noticed that there really wasn’t a cohesive community of people who create together, react to each other, or collaborate with each other,” Lewis told CNA.
And that’s how the Catholic YouTubers Hangout was born. The free online conference was open to any channel that was in some way, shape or form, Catholic – meaning either the content explicitly talked about Catholicism and the Catholic Church, or the creator of a channel is a Catholic who is letting their faith influence their work.
The goals for the hangout were twofold: to create a community of Catholic YouTubers, and to encourage further collaboration within that community.
This community of Catholic YouTubers is necessary, Lewis said, because “Catholics need to get their voice in the hyper-progressive, strictly materialistic, and atheist and agnostic conversation happening on YouTube.”
He said he wants there to be a ‘Catholic YouTube’ of sorts – a corner within the platform dominated by explicitly Catholic conversations and creators, like there is on Twitter or Instagram.
“The second thing I want is for Catholics to be a part of every other corner of YouTube. We should be earning our rights to be heard in the conversations happening on ‘Gamer YouTube,’ ‘Politics YouTube,’ or ‘Movie-Nerd YouTube,’” he said.
“Having both of these is important to spreading the Gospel. The first is important for answering the explicit questions of people interested in the faith, the second is important for putting the Gospel in new places among the people of the world.”
While many of his videos could fit in a category of apologetics and faith conversations geared towards millennials, they also include things like Lewis’ thoughts on the World Cup, eulogies for closing coffee shops, or his ability to eat bacon on certain Fridays in Lent.
Daniel noted that even within his own Catholic-themed channel, the conversations are not necessarily explicitly Catholic, but are about life as a young family, informed by a Catholic view.
“We need more variety of Catholic content on YouTube, which means we need Catholic content creators living out their faith and showcasing it through video. For example, my channel ‘That Catholic Couple’ is a vlogging (video blogging) channel where we regularly share what it means to be a young family. Yes, we speak about our faith, but our content isn’t always explicitly Catholic. Plus, we need different perspectives on the platform to put the Gospel in the niche corners of YouTube,” he said.
During the hangout, Lewis said he challenged Catholic YouTubers to do two things: first, to watch and subscribe to each other’s channels, because it helps build community. Secondly, he encouraged them to keep watching their favourite secular videos on YouTube, because it can help creators to hone a more professional style.
“Don’t be afraid of the secular influences on your style,” Lewis said.
Daniel added that the community is important, because it will allow Catholics to push each other to be better. Creating great art is something that the Church used to lead the world in, but has fallen behind in recent years, especially when it comes to creating good video.
“To be frank, the time of bad Catholic video content needs to end,” he said.
And the need for good Catholic video has never been more urgent, as video streaming has exploded in recent years with the boom of smartphones, Lewis added.
“The explosion of streaming video, especially through our phones, means that people are open to the possibilities of what a video can show them. Like any media, streaming videos can be baptised and used to glorify God. Let’s not waste our time!” Lewis said.
“A good friend of mine once said, ‘conversion of the heart isn’t fostered by one video, but it can start one’.”
Lewis urged all Catholics to share videos and blogs that further the Gospel message. And, if they find a gap somewhere, to fill it.
“Online evangelisation is not about getting famous, it’s about seeing a need and addressing it,” he said.
“If you find a video/post/blog that says what you need to say right now, like and share it! If you can’t find that video/post/blog, I guess it’s time for you to make it yourself!” – adapted from Catholic News Agency