Reaching 21,000 in 25 Countries in Six Months: That's Preposterous!
YouTube comments and social media metrics indicate The Texas Annual Conference is reaching thousands of youth and young adults – near and far -- through the Wesleyan-based online video Bible study called “Preposterous” that kicked off at Annual Conference last June. Is your church taking advantage of this impactful tool?
Although the popular social media communities and networks are “virtual,” the potential of the online forum for life change is quite real. Preposterous Bible study participant comments speak for themselves:
· First of all I want to thank you, because your videos help me stay on track. I am not exactly sure what my foundation is, but thanks to you I am working on that. Thanks to you I have actually started to read the Bible and lots of other people have been seeing improvements in my attitude about life.
· Hey, you are awesome. I saw you at Collide in Galveston. I love what you are doing!
· Preposterous has meant clarity for me. It’s a place I can listen and understand some things God wants us to know, and get answers to many questions I may have had.
· (from the Episode titled, Is God Generous?) “ Now that you’ve brought this to my attention, I can’t help but try to think of more ways I can be generous.”
· “I was a victim of a child sex ring and I have never forgiven them…when you read Corrie’s story, it brought me to tears. You have made a difference in my life.”
· Unfortunately, judging is something I struggle with. Since I now know for certain that judging is wrong, I am going to make sure I try and fight it the best I can.”
· Thank you for making Preposterous – it brings a little bit of God in my everyday life and helps me apply the teachings.
· I found this channel recently and like how interactive the video feels. It’s super easy to share with my friends over social media. I’m praying more people see these videos!”
How Did Preposterous Come About?
Project Preposterous was launched six months ago as an experimental “adventure” under the TAC focus goal to Invest in the Young. Last June, the Conference voted to team up in this way with online ministry guru David Dorn, who will soon graduate with his M.Div at Asbury Theological Seminary. On behalf of the conference, David has been customizing this video series on social media channels – as a resource for Texas church youth groups and a relevant ministry to anyone with internet access. He began with video lessons from Matthew and occasionally invited youth to upload their video interpretation of a Bible verse, or encouraged them to post the video on their social network and even to tune in to a live chat and ask any question.
“What Jesus calls us to do is pretty preposterous when you think about it,” David shared with TAC youth during COLLIDE 2012 in Galveston, “but it is in the preposterous that we find life.”
The metrics available online demonstrate the “adventure” has expanded the reach of the gospel far beyond the Texas Annual Conference. “Our demographics and web analytics indicate Preposterous is crossing age barriers to reach youth, young adults and even middle age adults,” notes David, “from approximately 25 countries!”
Fun Facts Include:
· Over 160 youth leaders have subscribed via the website.
· Preposterous has had over 1000 “likes” on videos and over 500 comments.
· Audiences of all ages have watched approximately 47,000 minutes of content online.
· The weekly study on Matthew is supplemented with a monthly Discipleship series called Preposterous 2.0 and mini episodes or topical excerpts from the main study. “Our mix of Biblical depth, humor, cultural relevance and viewer interaction is making a difference in youth groups and homes – literally worldwide,” adds David.
New This Month
Preposterous is re-releasing in Spanish under the title, Lo Absurdo. “We are posting these videos on a separate YouTube channel for churches who predominately speak Spanish, and for the Spanish speaking online audiences. Conversations are also underway to possibly translate all of the videos in German later this year.
Why Pastors and Youth Leaders Love It
Jason Huffman uses the Preposterous studies every week with the youth of First UMC Palestine. “The content is very solid and the format allows me to share it with students that miss the weekly meeting.” Nancy Krantz of Emory UMC likes the small group questions and the way Presposterous relates to her youth Sunday school class. “It gives our lesson so much more meat than a printed lesson,” she adds. Some 50-60 students of Noblesville First UMC tune in to Preposterous regularly. “It’s so much easier to post your video than make my own, these have been ridiculously helpful,” adds Jerrod Burris.
Chiming in all the way from Crawfordsville, Indiana is Matthew Fry who says Preposterous “is one of the best curriculums I’ve come across in my years of youth ministry because it gets my students talking and engaged with the lesson.” Adds Matthew, “This has benefitted us hugely by allowing us to free up budget money to spend in other areas and it’s so portable I’ve been able to upload the videos whether we are in our youth room, my office, outside on the grass or even at the local fast food hangout.”
Melanie Pierce, Portland, Michigan says this video series keeps her kids coming back every Sunday. “The kids love it and so do I!” In a special word of thanks to the Texas Annual Conference, she says, “Thank you so much for offering this amazing study for FREE! It’s such a blessing to our ministry – I hope it continues!”
Bishop Janice Huie is proud of the innovative leadership within the Texas Annual Conference that supports Investing in the Young through Project Preposterous. She encourages youth groups and small group leaders to check it out at www.preposterousproject.org. She says, “Given the success of this unique and relevant proclaiming of the gospel using new media, how can we best use this opportunity to reach others in our own conference?”