It was a couple years ago when I first heard of Casey Neistat. His videos were my initiation to a whole new world of video. Before Casey, I thought YouTube was for cats.
Casey had been on YouTube long before I found him. In fact, I think I found him right after he hit 5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He now has over 10,000,000 subscribers (and likely thousands more by the time you read this).
With that many followers, you could say that Casey has some influence. And that’s why I wanted to write about Casey today.
Most pastors want to influence people. You probably don’t want to become an “influencer” online, but there are definitely people you want to influence toward Jesus, healing, better decisions in life, community, etc.
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Whether you’re earning the right to influence 10,000,000 people or 10, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from Casey that every pastor should pay attention to.
You can be authentic without oversharing.
Every pastor I’ve talked to about making videos online or being more active on social media all say that they hate when people overshare and they don’t want to be like that.
Casey is a clear example of being authentic without oversharing. He does this by keeping his production simple, acting naturally on camera, and purposely editing videos to include errors and mess-ups. Some of my favorite moments have been when we get to see him crash a drone or randomly say hi to people on the street.
Authenticity is the primary ingredient that builds trust. People don’t trust politicians that don’t seem authentic. On the flip side, there are some awful politicians that win races based on authenticity alone.
Your people will trust you more if you’re authentic. Displaying authenticity is powerful because if you display the truth about yourself people will believe that you speak truth, too.
You could say that authenticity was one of Jesus’ go-to methods of building trust. When his disciples walked with him daily, they saw the authentic Jesus. So when he spoke, even saying some crazy things, they believed that he was telling the truth.
You can be creative without a huge budget.
One of my favorite things about Casey’s videos is that they’re produced very inexpensively. He often uses craft paper and trinkets and big markers to illustrate points he’s trying to make. Most of his videos are just creative camera angles and storytelling. It’s pretty rare for him to use digital text in post-production to say something.
Francis Chan has this reputation, too. He’s a master of using plain things to illustrate impactful truths. I still think about the time he used a long rope to illustrate eternity.
Creativity for pastors goes way beyond sermon illustrations. Peter Haas, Pastor of Substance Church, creates electronic music and tours the world doing shows. In the video below, Peter and his daughter are DJing this concert.
I wish I saw more pastors embrace video as a medium to creatively engage people with the message of Jesus…and I don’t mean just uploading sermons to YouTube.
You can work incredibly hard and still make time for your family.
Casey works harder than most people. He wakes up at 4:30am every day, runs 10-15 miles, maintains a YouTube channel with 10,000,000 subscribers, lifts weights daily, and still makes breakfast for his family and commits 4 hours per day to spend with them.
And, what’s even better, he does an incredible job showing the world that family matters.
Can you imagine a pastor who preaches about family time also demonstrating it so publicly and clearly? What an impact that would have!
I understand that pastors often have obligations that pull them away from family. Church crises rarely respect family plans. But pastors tend to say yes to too many things in the name of working hard and being a good pastor.
What you can learn from Casey is that you can work hard and be a good pastor while still making real time for your family. All it takes is some proactive schedule-making and then the discipline to stick to it.
What do you have to lose?
Today, with so many voices, influence is earned. It doesn’t come with the “pastor” title or a place on the stage. It comes from authenticity, having a creative voice, and setting a standard others look up to.
You can do that with online video in a way that pastors in bygone eras could only dream. You can talk to your people, their friends, and strangers around the world all at once. There’s no expectation of “professionalism” or even production quality anymore. People don’t care about those things.
The pressure is off. What do you have to lose if you try? Maybe a few minutes of recording and posting your first video? Are you worried about doing something very public and looking foolish by not doing it well? Good news! Nobody expects you to do video well, but they do expect you to be authentic, for you to meet them where they are, and to be able to relate to them.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Getting that first authentic video done is the biggest hurdle. What do you talk about? Where do you record it? What equipment do you need? How do you edit it?
Answer: whatever you want, wherever you want, your phone, and don’t worry about that right now.
Talk about whatever you care about. Talk about Jesus, tell a story, lament your football team’s disappointing season (ahem, Jaguars), or do a book review. Just be yourself.
And it doesn’t matter where you record as long as you can hear your voice and see your face. Those are the starter stipulations. I love recording right into my iPhone with the default camera app in selfie mode (front facing camera). TIP: Use earbuds with a mic for better audio and watch out for windy places.
One more thing…you don’t have to be a master storyteller to make a splash. I’m a pretty awful storyteller, to be honest. I’m not particularly articulate either, but I was able to build an audience of 6,000+ subscribers on YouTube over about 6 months by just recording and posting daily while my family went on a little adventure.
Get started. Get used to talking to yourself. Be authentic. Hit record and publish.