Tick Tock

“Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy
– Kesha

Note: This post has no substance to it and it’s a more ’look what I did, guys!’ type of post. I wanted to write something, but didn’t know what so I settled with what you’ll read — if you stick around. Which is why it’s going live at such an odd time. As always, please don’t mind the grammar mistakes that are bound to be there. In those moments, I hope you’ll get what I was trying to say rather than what I typed.

When I was in youth ministry, I’d try to keep up with pop culture things that the kids were into, just to get a lay of the land and be able to relate to them more. It’s the only reason why I read the entire Twilight saga.
I’m glad I got out of youth ministry when I did because I don’t think I’d be able to keep up these days.
But. I still try to “stay in the know” with things that the “kids” are into… which these days, make me feel like this:

Some time during the pandemic, I downloaded TikTok just to see what I was missing out on.
It became incredibly (and strangely) addicting.
From social activism to standup excerpts to viral trends to the hilarious— I couldn’t stop scrolling my FYP (For You Page).

Then this guy who introduces himself in every video as That Pastor from Oklahoma popped on my FYP. I didn’t realize there was a real big Christian presence on the platform. I mean, I knew colleagues were on it, when one of my church planting colleagues went viral a while back as the Hot Summer Priest.

So I figured, let’s see what content I can create.
My very first video was a quick vid of me skateboarding.
Then I complied videos of Nathanael enjoying trains.
A few videos later, I made a video about about a trip to a store… and for whatever reason that went semi-viral. Followed by a video I made referencing the 1998 Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Mankind (a common and popular Reddit copypasta) (a video that John Green liked!)

Then, I thought, let’s lean into this and see what more I can do (and if I can get into the Creator’s Fund)
I started a series called Things Church People Have Said which covers… uh… things church people have said over the course of my ministry (some of the stories are from colleagues as well, but I make it sound like mine to keep their anonymity).

And just like that, I found my niche.
It’s been fun and curious.
I don’t know what goes viral and what doesn’t.
I do see that topics about deconstruction and racism within the church drives the views.

Oh. And the addictiveness of it all.
It is a dopamine hit. That first moment when you realize a video is getting lots of attention — you open up the app and you have 99+ notifications waiting for you.
And you see the likes, the follows, the mentions, and the comments.
Some affirming; some questioning; some trolling. And then it gets too much to keep up. Too many comments to read and react to.
And there’s a desire to chase that again. To find something that’ll just go big.
Social Media is a self-centered platform.
And it caresses the ego in such a way…

As of writing this,
I have somehow amassed 42.7k followers and 634.6k likes throughout my channel.
I created 2 hashtags, #ExVangelicalEpiscopalian and #yourepiscoPAL which have garnered 1.7 million and 3.3 million views, respectively.
And, really, this is the point of social media, right?
Like, I really have nothing to show for it except a “look at me” and a “pat my own back” type of thing.

But —
I have had several conversations with people who have reached out because of my tiktoks.
One was discerning a call into ministry but didn’t know if the route he should take was Catholicism or Episcopalianism (go the Episcopal route)
Another was someone who we had mutual friends in Hawaii and he was burned out from the church and wanted to know if there’s hope (yes, keep moving forward).
Someone else reached out to ask if deconstruction was normal and why it was so painful (yes, and it’s painful because you’re losing your security blanket. And change is simply painful).

Of course, there were weird ones as well — like the guy that was angling a blessing from a priest so that he can go knock himself out with drugs and sex (Dude, don’t use God as a crowbar to get things you want. Don’t use God as an excuse or a crutch)
And then the trolls. Someone told me that I (along with my church) am going to hell for welcoming derogatory expletives. (Ignored).

Then, we recently had someone show up to church because they found my tiktoks.
That was a weird yet cool experience.
One of my friends (who received way too many death threats online) suggested I may wanna be prepared in case one of the trolls show up in person. I guess he had a good point…?

All this, however, is making me think about how to connect with people who will never be part of my physical community.
Remember that Pastor from Oklahoma I mentioned?
I got invited to his podcast and he was sharing with me his next project and his digital, online community and I’m super fascinated to see where that takes him.

In the mean time, I’ll keep this up until it feels like a job (right now, it feels like a hobby).
And let’s see what doors and connections this will lead to next.

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