Where’s the Church’s Ask a Ninja?

April 12, 2007 by

Online entertainment has been taking the world by storm. Homestar Runner. Ask a Ninja. lonelygirl15. ZeFrank. For the most part these were projects started by small groups of people with small amounts of money. They are media empires on shoestring budgets. They can be created by folks in their pajamas and they have incredible impact.

While watching Ask a Ninja co-founder Kent Nichols talk about his rules for success in this new entertianment world in a video from Pop!Tech, I wondered where the church is in this new online entertainment phenomenon.

Now before you even say it, I’m not looking for a Christian version of lonelygirl15. I don’t want to see an ‘Ask a Pastor’ series (OK, that could be hilarious, but something as funny as “Baby Got Book” doesn’t do much to spread the gospel). We don’t need another Christian sub-genre that’s sub-quality. We don’t need a GodTube. We don’t need choir-preaching and insider lingo.

What we do need is Christians willing to use the new economies of entertainment to spread the gospel. And I think local churches could have an amazing role in bringing people together and making that happen. Creative people in churches can connect and take advantage of this new entertainment world. The church no longer needs a massive Passion of the Christ to be heard. We need our own, original Ask a Ninja.

It could be something as simple as the Father Matthew Presents series. It could be a youth group creating their own high school dramedy series. It could be a laugh-out-loud flash cartoon that manages to introduce people to Jesus without scaring them away. It could be using Legos to teach people about the Bible. (Update: OK, so maybe Brick Testament isn’t the best example with their graphic interpretations–admittedly some are literal and that stuff is in the Bible, but others are more sexually graphic than they need be. As a commenter says below, all the more reason for a church to do it right.)

Whatever it is, I think it could be a cool way to impact people. And I think churches could help make it happen. (link via thoughts via kottke.org)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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10 Responses to “Where’s the Church’s Ask a Ninja?”

  • The Aesthetic Elevator
    April 12, 2007

    I’ve asked myself this question for a few years now, working for a small internet + missions mobilizing organization. I’d love to do something like this, and we have the brainstorming capacity.
    But, frankly, we don’t have the time (or funds) to keep up with our own projects or ideas as it is. Sad, but true.

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  • Brad
    April 12, 2007

    This is something that I entirely resonate with. Unfortunately what I’ve seen isn’t firing on these cylinders. It’s either the schlock that we don’t want. Or it’s trying so hard to be high quality and to ‘make a living’, that the gospel content gets lost, and it can’t afford to ever turn viral.
    This is the first effort of some good friends of mine that I fear is in danger of falling into that second chasm. It’s really well done, but the stakes may be too high for it to ever really take off:
    Advice that I’ve heard for anyone trying to make a movie or whatever is to ‘start a gang’. You need to have a group so bought in to the concept, with such strong trust in each other, and craft and develop from there. Solid ideas and writing always come before the technical stuff — especially in this new viral world! So, anyone close by wanna roll? :-)

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  • angelsvsanimals
    April 12, 2007

    I consider myself extremely lucky that my job allows me to think of this kind of content. Right now I’ve been busy laying out a lot of groundwork for our church that will serve as a foundation for artists/filmmakers etc. Once we’re done with that, I’m going to take a deep breath and dig in.

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  • Geoff Brown
    April 12, 2007

    Father Matthew is absolutely super. No matter what your denomination you can learn something about how to do this by watching his videos. My only regret is that he only posts every couple of weeks.
    I do want to say that, as long as you are willing to sacrifice some slickness for the sake of simplicity (I keep thinking that Jesus would have thought this was pretty much okay), it is not rocket science to make video that conveys something.
    This Palm Sunday procession would be familiar to any Episcopalian. Because we use a standard, denomination-wide liturgy, there was absolutely no writing to be done. It was handheld “point and shoot” and the editing was minimal as well.
    Regardless of your denomination, there is much in your church that will tell people great things about you and what you do without making video into a Cecil B. deMille production.
    I have to say “Just DO IT!”

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  • Leah
    April 12, 2007

    I seriously, not two days ago, said in our staff meeting “We should make an ask-a-ninja take off called ‘ask-a-church.'”
    Not two days ago. Now I’m totally doing it.

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  • mrben
    April 13, 2007

    It’s probably worth noting that the guy who does the Brick Testament isn’t actually a Christian, despite his title of ‘Reverend’

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  • Steve
    April 13, 2007

    If the Brick Testament guy isn’t a Christian, it only furthers the need for someone in the Christian world to be thinking up ideas that could potentially go viral. We need the “Veggie Tales” for the web that could declare the love of Christ in a fun way…but for a whole lot less money than Veggie Tales.

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  • Kurt
    April 13, 2007

    It’s a good idea and could work really well. Our church does short funny videos that deal with the topic on hand many Sundays and they can be found at http://www.theedgevideos.com check it out and see what you all think!

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  • SImon Jones
    June 1, 2007

    When I see things like GodTube I am reminded of why I stopped going to Church and have absolutely no desire to re-immerse myself into such a bizarre and disconnected culture.

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  • Rachel Clark
    June 24, 2007

    We started this 3 years ago… but it’s aimed at our members, full of inside jokes. Still, it made the rounds locally. It’s just a lot of time…
    Check it out:

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Evangelism & Outreach, Multimedia