Ten years ago today on April 23, 2005, a small video sharing website was created with a simple idea: to make videos easier to share across the internet. That invention was called YouTube and quickly became a tool to share billions of hours of information and ideas across the Earth. While some consider the platform to be only a place for videos of cats doing cute/funny things (about 15% of all internet traffic is related to this), people like myself use YouTube as a means to find information we are passionate about, from video games, movies, television, and even cooking videos. People use YouTube as a means to share things online that they think their friends would be interested in, and this has truly globalized how we consume and share our media.
YouTube has become an important means of communication and evangelization for the Vatican and other entities within the Catholic Church. The Church is experiencing a rapid change in how we share our faith, from Vatican videos of the Easter Mass in Rome, videos of priests and religious explaining core tenets of the Catholic Church, and videos explaining how to preach our Catholic faith to other people. Thousands of hours of video are being recorded in the idea of spreading the Gospel message to others. There are beautiful images, witnesses, and events that happen in the Catholic Church, and many are viewed and shared across languages and continents thanks to this website.
How does YouTube relate to the idea of evangelization, and how can we as lay people be involved? The Catholic Church has some beautiful and amazing ideas and images that it can offer to people, if it has a way to be seen. YouTube is first and foremost about sharing video, so share some Catholic videos! Find something that you yourself would be interested in watching, and you are already halfway there. I love reviews on media, and with a quick search, found a video by Robert Barron of Word on Fire discussing the 2014 Oscar nominated film Whiplash and how that can relate to our spiritual life. I would be interested in viewing more videos like them, which eventually leads to the final step.
The final step in an easy way to evangelize is by sharing a video with friends and family on social media. It takes a matter of a few seconds and a few clicks, but it may offer an interesting interaction and discussion by your loved ones on why you would share that information and what it means to you. People are experiencing more media than ever, offering a personal witness and approval of something makes it easier for a friend or family member to accept it as something worthwhile. They should value your opinion as someone close to them, and so this opens the door for conversation and their own hopeful self-discovery.
YouTube in 2015 is at its core the same as it was in 2005: a website on the internet devoted to sharing video. Although, now with faster desktop internet connections and smartphones, YouTube can serve as a way to easily share experiences and ideas across the planet. Why can’t we as Catholics use that tool to show people the magnificence of God through His Church? I end with sharing a video I enjoy watching, and can serve as an example of how easy it is to share with others.
Jonathan Sitko is the Program Manager for the Catholic Apostolate Center
To find more information on Catholic Media please see our resource page and check out the Center's own promotional YouTube video!