The New Evangelization has been preached by many popes. The purpose is to re-evanglize baptized persons who have fallen away from the faith. This is the true battleground in the West. John Paul II said the New Evangelization is “new in its ardor, methods, and expression” and Benedict XVI expounded on this saying that the New Evangelization must be new in its methods, not in its content. Throughout John Paul II’s writings and in Benedict XVI’s formation of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the central theme appears that the New Evangelization is meant to proclaim the Good News by engaging the current culture and accompanying individuals on their journey towards eternal life. Billy Griffith hopes to aid in this through his YouTube channels Catholic Word of the Day and Ok Catholics.
YouTube is part of the new media, including social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and is part of what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the “digital continent” and that we must evangelize it as we would any missionary territory. That means making good content and building our social media presence well! It is widely popularized the St. Francis Xavier was a good missionary and had so much success, in part, because he learned to speak all the native languages of the peoples he was evangelizing. This is what must be done with the new media, too. Facebook doesn’t work as a community the same way Twitter does or the same way Instagram does. We must go in, not guns a-blazing, but ready to learn and be a presence.
A big part of the present culture is video consumption: movies, television, or YouTube, people want good media! “Television is dying,” Billy Griffith tells me, and I agree. People want content immediately and television can’t provide that. This is why there is the rise in streaming services creating their own content with Netflix and Hulu leading the way. This is the prime time for Catholics to make a stand on YouTube, especially as the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) doesn’t regulate content on the Internet. The ability to create free content for the masses is an amazing opportunity! But it has to be done well.
To make good Catholic YouTube content, here are some essential tips, as provided by Billy Griffith:
1. Consume a lot of media
If you’re going to be involved in media of any sort, you must be a consumer of those types of media so that you can see how the pros are doing it and how people respond to them and learn to emulate them. And don’t limit yourself to only Catholic or Christian channels- many of the secular big ones have lessons to teach us about doing media well and we would do well to learn from them! Here are some really good Catholic YouTube Channels.
2. Don’t settle for mediocre production
Invest in good equipment- good camera, good microphone, good lighting, and good video shooting techniques.
3. Know your genre!
Catholic Word of the Day lends itself to voice-over narration and captivating visuals, while Ok Catholics is a vlog (video blog) format. But don’t just sit down in front of a camera! While jump cuts are typically seen as unprofessional in the film industry, they work well in a vlog.
4. Create good content!
This should be a no-brainer. People don’t want to watch a static shot of someone simply lecturing on Catholic doctrine for two hours. Find a way to present your topic in an engaging way both through the writing and the filming techniques. Make it easy to understand but fun to follow.
5. Engage your audience
Another no-brainer. Do callbacks and ask what your audience thinks, start conversations with your viewers, take their suggestions seriously! Season four of Catholic Word of the Day is taking most of its terms from comments from their viewers and friends. This is important! It shows your audience you care about them and that you’re invested in them, not just what you do, and this is the whole point.
Social media and technology are always moving and changing, so it’s important to stay on top of what is happening, becoming masters of content, so that we can “put out into the deep” (Luke 5:4) and reach a wide amount of people, helping to bring them closer to Christ. When on the cross Christ said, “I thirst,” he didn’t mean just physical thirst, he meant for souls. In this age, social media has become so much more than a simple and quick means of communication, but a fertile ground for community. John Paul II knew this, Benedict XVI knew this, so let us take up their call and use YouTube to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.