Gadsden youth group first ever to post video on iTunescomment (0)
May 11, 2006
By Lauren Brooks
Most people use an iPod or MP3 player to share their favorite music with friends, but Corey Glenn, a sophomore high school student, uses his iPod to share the gospel.
A member of CrossPoint Community Church, Gadsden, in Etowah Baptist Association, Glenn is active in the church’s student ministry, which podcasts its weekly youth services.
“I think that someone who might not come to church to hear would be more likely to download it,” he said. “Sometimes I download it on my iPod and then show it to people who weren’t there. Or I can put it on their computer, and then they can put it on their iPod.”
The church’s student worship service, called xroads, meets at 6:30 on Sunday nights and is led by Acton Bowen, the church’s student pastor. By Monday, the church’s technical team puts an audio file of the service on iTunes at www.itunes.com and on www.podcast.net under the keyword “xroads” for people to download and play through iTunes or QuickTime media players. The podcasts are free and people can also subscribe to receive them automatically.
While the church has had a good response from the audio podcasts, it wanted to do something more, Bowen said. This led it to become the first youth ministry anywhere to upload full video of the services onto iTunes. Now those who have iTunes will be able to download and see the podcasts as well as hear them. The files can also be downloaded onto iPods with screens and watched anywhere.
“We’re trying to engage this generation and meet them where they are in their own culture of iPods and MP3 players,” Bowen said.
Since he began posting audio podcasts of xroads in February, Bowen said he has received e-mails from people in other states and even other countries who have been impacted by what they’ve heard.
“We know at xroads that we’ve not been called to do church the way it’s always been done,” Bowen said. “I’ve found that if you do things the same way, you get the same results, and we’re not getting through to the ‘millennial’ generation — the middle and high school-aged students.”
Bowen said he and the student worship team collaborated with the youth ministry’s technical director, Darrell Norton, to get the podcasts up and running. “We gave Darrell the vision, and he put the nuts and bolts of it together,” Bowen said. “It was a long time in the works, and lots of folks worked to make it happen.”
In response to the growing number of students who listen to podcasts in areas outside of Gadsden, Bowen started what he calls satellite groups. “They have live worship where they are and then log on to hear our message,” he said. “We send message notes and PowerPoint for folks to put up and use. There is a leader who facilitates discussion afterwards.”
According to Bowen, there are two satellite groups in Alabama and one in Michigan.
David Farris, director of the satellite group in the Birmingham area, is a member of CrossPoint but lives in Helena. He meets with students on Saturday nights, leads live worship and then uses his computer to project Bowen’s message from the previous week onto a screen.
“TV shows and concerts are being podcast, so why shouldn’t the church use it as an evangelistic tool?” Farris asked.
Currently he and Bowen are trying to find a suitable location for the Birmingham satellite group to meet. For now, it meets in homes.
“We have about 10 to 15 youth who are excited about meeting and are talking it up at their schools,” Farris said. “It will do great things to allow students to share the gospel in a nontraditional way.”
CrossPoint Pastor Bruce Word said he believes that it is the responsibility of ministers to use every available means to get the gospel to mankind. “In the past, we have used the printed page, cassettes, CDs and DVDs. The iPod is the latest tool in technology,” said Word, who relies on his 16-year-old daughter, Bethany, to help keep him up to speed. “More people will be reached through this medium than we could ever imagine.”
Bowen said the church also has a way for people to experience live video of the worship services. By early June, visitors to the site www.xroads.com will be able to log on to watch the service in progress.