GodTube gives Christians place to speak out

You won’t find any chain-saw jugglers or Mentos-and-Diet Coke-fountain choreographers on GodTube.

But you will find a “Baby Got Back” sendup saluting the virtues of hefty Bibles, dead-on Macintosh/PC commercial parodies about calling oneself “Christian” versus “Christ Follower,” and a cute video of a kid trying mightily to recite the 23rd Psalm.

GodTube (www.godtube. com), which officially staked its claim on the electronic frontier in May, is a sort of Christian version of YouTube. And while it’s not connected with that popular video-sharing site, GodTube is a home for any video — a sermon, a performance by a Christian musician, a comedy skit with a Christian bent — a computer-packing Christian might wish to see.

GodTube is the brainchild of Chris Wyatt, 38, a former network TV producer who’s now attending Dallas Theological Seminary. Wyatt, GodTube’s chief executive officer, read a study in one of his classes projecting that half as many Americans will be attending church in 2025 as now.

Wyatt suspected that a primary problem is the church’s difficulty in reaching those in their 20s and 30s. But, because those in that demographic are avid users of YouTube, the Internet and streaming video, GodTube seemed like a logical remedy.

Certainly, YouTube and other file sharing sites do offer some Christian content. But, Wyatt says, they also offer content — videos, ads, user comments — Christians would find objectionable.

So, in January, GodTube hit the Internet in a test version, offering videos uploaded by Christians around the world who wished to share whatever it is they chose to commit to video.

The site now claims about a half-million unique visitors each month, Wyatt says, and has become “the most trafficked Christian video site in the world.”

“We knew there was a demand out there,” Wyatt adds, “but we didn’t know how great a demand.”

Some of GodTube’s most popular offerings are its viral videos, or videos that, because of their humor, novelty or cuteness, can’t help but end up being passed around informally from user to user.

“Baby Got Book,” a parody of Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” that substitutes Bibles for booty, is “the perfect example,” Wyatt says.

The music video — which surely represents the only time the phrases “John Wesley” and “koinonia” ever have appeared in a rap song — has had about a quarter-million views.

“What we see is kids attracted by the video,” Wyatt says. “Once they get there, they find there actually is a lot of biblical teaching underneath.”

Jerry Davison, creative arts director at Hope Baptist Church, learned about GodTube about six months ago via an e-mail from a friend.

“I found it very interesting,” says Davison, noting that GodTube offers an easy, effective way for churches and ministerial teams to share videos, advice, information and strategies with one another.

“We’re very fortunate and blessed in our church to have a video department,” he says. “We produce our own videos here and use them in services, but not many churches have that.”

Wyatt says GodTube also is intended as a resource for Christians, and not-yet Christians, to access videos of sermons, Bible studies and other information they can use for their own spiritual growth.

“We think of it as Christianity on-demand when you need it the most,” he adds, while stressing that GodTube is “not a substitute for church by any means.”

While submissions to GodTube are vetted for objectionable content, its offerings span the entire range of Christian theology from liberal to conservative and from just about every Christian tradition.

Users appreciate GodTube’s role as a place for discussion and debate, says Wyatt. “There’s a lot of arguing and there’s a lot of heated debate going on, not only in the (videos) but also in the comments section. It’s all about discussing our faith and our differences and coming to common ground.”

Among Southern Nevada’s contributions to GodTube’s slate of offerings is a video from the Las Vegas Outreach Team. Coordinator Doug Koch says the team is made up of people from several local churches who regularly “hit the streets and share the Gospel with as many people as we can.”

Koch discovered GodTube about six months ago. “Once I started checking it out, man, what an incredible resource,” he says.

For the team, GodTube makes sharing ideas among his group and other similar groups easy. And, for a Christian, GodTube offers a vast array of easily searchable religious instruction.

YouTube offers “some good stuff,” he says, “but you get a lot of different things that I would just never watch or have my children watch.”

On GodTube, he adds, “you don’t have to worry about commercials.”

Founder Wyatt sees GodTube as less an alternative to YouTube than a next-generation TV network. GodTube already features pre-existing programming obtained specifically for use on the site, he says, and now is preparing to produce original programming.

It all makes sense to Hope Baptist Church’s Davison. While modern-day Luddites may balk, Davison figures that a church that doesn’t embrace the Internet “is just going to get left behind completely. It’s going to lose a voice in the culture.”

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