What Would Jesus Download?

The fastest growing Web site on the internet right now is a place called GodTube.  It is the Christian alternative to YouTube, started by a student at  Dallas Theological Seminary. And it is the perfect example of what can happen when an entrepreneurial spirit, combined with personal – and social – responsibility, makes a play for an Internet audience.

In interviews with MSNBC and ABC's Nightline, Chris Wyatt, the seminary student behind the GodTube.com phenomenon, said he was seeking to reach the two million Americans who are searching for religious answers on line.  He started GodTube in early 2007 after reading a study that predicted a 50 percent decline in the number of churchgoers in the United States over the next 40 years.

While GodTube clearly takes a page from YouTube, the contrasts between the sites are stark.  Take the tag lines: YouTube's is “Broadcast Yourself™”; GodTube's is “Broadcast Him.” But that's only the beginning.

Wyatt said he was determined to make sure GodTube was a safe place for children and families to surf.  YouTube, as anyone who has ever been to the site knows, is anything but safe for children.  For example, on the day this article was written, one of YouTube's  “Most Viewed” videos featured an anal sex parody.  Another featured the “f-word” flashing between scenes.  On GodTube it was a little girl reciting Psalm 23. 

Hmmm. What would Jesus download?

Wyatt, in his MSNBC interview, said “We watch every single minute of every video.” But GodTube is more than a video sharing site.  Church services can be downloaded and a social networking component allows people to chat on line. 

Wyatt's sense of social responsibility shone clearly in his interview on ABC.  He told reporter Terry Moran that he didn't make the site for Christians, but rather for non-believers.

“We get e-mails every day.  And that really is the whole point. It's to spread the Gospel to those who have not heard it.  We have a number of different channels.  One is called 'Non-believers Seeking Answers,' and we have a number of atheists uploading videos asking questions about the faith and challenging us,” Wyatt said. “We welcome that.  That's really what the basis of GodTube.com is about.”

So far two million people have logged onto GodTube.  800,000 hours of uploaded video are available. Of 1,000 Web portals evaluated by Comscore Media Metrix in August 2007, GodTube.com ranked #1. And the video of the little girl reciting Psalm 23 has been viewed four million times.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.