73K and Counting
You’re probably wondering what the 73K (73,000) in the subject line refers to. This week’s offering? The number of Hawaiian shirts Pastor Dustin Aagaard owns? The total number of wins by the University of Kentucky’s basketball team?
Believe it or not, that is the number of views on YouTube a sermon I preached at Journey back in2013 has received…and counting. It is far and away the most viewed sermon I’ve ever done. Furthermore, this particular sermon receives more views every week than whatever the current sermon is that we’re doing.
And I had no idea this was happening. In fact, I kind of stumbled onto this information last week on an email thread about online viewers.
You’re probably wondering what is the sermon that keeps on growing in views like that? It’s a message I did on the life of Joseph titled “From a Pit to a Palace.” It was a sermon that was part of The Story series which was an overview of the major characters and stories of the Scriptures that we did back in 2013. You may click here to view the sermon I’m referring to.
I also learned last week that Journey’s YouTube Channel now has over 2,500 Subscribers and grows every week. Again, I had no idea. It wasn’t that long ago that we had just a couple hundred subscribing to our online content.
What does this mean? Here’s a few thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind:
-Digital ministry is a real thing. Initially when we started livestreaming our worship gatherings a few years ago, many people thought, “that’s a nice thing to do for people who are traveling or who can’t make it out to ‘real church’”. Online ministry is real. The people watching it are real. The life-changing impact they are experiencing by the power of God’s Word is real. Just read some of the comments left on the Joseph sermon link I referenced earlier.
-The reach of our online community is limitless. Most of the people who are viewing our messages online don’t live in Apopka or Lake County. Many of the people watching are from out of state and out of country. The pioneering Christian leaders who utilized radio and television to communicate their messages showed us the power of technology to penetrate areas way beyond a physical location. The quarantines and lockdowns brought about by the coronavirus have shown us not just the necessity of having an online community, but the potential of what online ministry can be.
-What you do today isn’t just for today. I’m struck by the fact that something I preached in 2013 is still being watched today…and in greater numbers than anything I’m saying currently! Again, that’s the power of online ministry; to store and make accessible things long forgotten by the presenter but is still ministering to people even when they are unaware. That is a reminder to me as a preacher that what I say—or write—this week isn’t just for this week nor can the true effectiveness of today’s message be evaluated in real time. The Word of God really is like a seed that a sower goes out to sow. It takes some time for the full potential of that seed to be seen or felt. It can even last well beyond the shelf-life of the sower.
I’m aware that you can still hear Dr. J. Vernon McGee teach verse-by-verse through the Bible on many radio stations. Dr. McGee died in 1988. The oratorically brilliant sermons of Adrian Rogers are still being televised on the “Love Worth Finding” broadcast. Pastor Rogers died in 2005.
And this is true beyond ministry related content. One of the most currently watched series across all streaming platforms is “The Office,” which ended production over seven years ago. Melinda and I watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns almost nightly as we get ready for bed. The last episode of that show aired in May of 2005. I still tear up every time I watch it.
Jesus once said that a good teacher will bring out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. As much as I’m currently reading, listening and learning to grow myself as a disciple personally and a leader congregationally, it is good to be reminded that some of the “old treasures” are still producing fruit. And that encourages me even more to prepare wisely and plant diligently in the present for the harvest of tomorrow.
Loving the Journey,