Don’t Believe What You See On YouTube!!!

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  • Someone hears or sees my name, somewhere. They Google me. Whatever pops up, including several YouTube clip links. They click the links. There I am, probably in revival somewhere. It is the last few minutes of the sermon. I am happy and in mid-whoop. They read the comments below – good and bad. An opinion is formed.

    Sometime later, they meet me in person. They tell me they have heard me preach. “Where?” I ask. Answer: “On YouTube.”  I reply, “Don’t believe anything you see on YouTube.” They laugh. I laugh, too, even though I wasn’t making a joke.

    Good old YouTube. What can I say?

    Who would have thought ten or so years ago that such a vast resource of preaching and teaching would be available like this?

    Well, it is. And I am not sure it’s a good thing. (Sorry BrothaRollins.)

    In African-American circles, YouTube has become a library of sermon closes. For the most part, all you see is whooping. You see preachers celebrating. But you have no clue what they are celebrating about. Not good.

    No, this is not a post about whooping – the musical way some Black preachers end their sermons. And it is not about the culture of African-American worship. My concern is that a snapshot has become a caricature.

    I was preaching away from home recently. The next day, I had a conversation with an acquaintance that was present in the service. He had never heard me preach in a local church worship service before. He was surprised by what he heard. He was surprised that I had something to say. He was surprised that I took the text seriously.

    His thoughts did not offend me initially. They did make me curious. Why was my preaching such a surprise? You guessed it. YouTube. At that point, I had to work not to offended.

    I take the word of God seriously. I view preaching as a sacred task. I work hard to prepare myself to rightly handle the word of truth.I may “pull it” in a sermon when I feel it. But my preaching is more than that.

    It just feels unfair that my ministry could be summarily written off on the basis of a brief clip from the concluding moments of a message.

    I hope that we African-American preachers will start featuring more of the meat of our messages, not just the gravy. And I hope that those from watch these clips will not judge the whole after only seeing a part.

    There is a lot more that I want to say about this. But I am sure this is enough to start a controversy.

    So let me end by saying what I always say when someone brings up YouTube clips….




    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.