A New "Expedition" for the Kramers
2022 - The Year of YouTube
We became YouTubers in 2022. Yep! It sounds funny to say, but it’s a reality. Starting a channel had been the strategic plan for a long time, but on April 11, 2022, we clicked the “Publish” button for our first video and launched into the world of YouTube with Expedition Bible.
Over this past Christmas break, our daughter, who was home from college, laughingly confessed that she and her siblings would smirk and give each other knowing looks last spring as they eavesdropped on Cathy and me talking during our daily afternoon coffee dates, “But what makes a clickable thumbnail?”; “What is our ‘niche’?”; “How do we optimize our titles?”; “Will the algorithm promote our channel?” While our kids fully supported us, they didn’t really expect our YouTube venture to succeed. But by October 9th, 2022, when our channel hit the YouTube landmark of gaining 100,000 subscribers, their smirks had become grins of amazement and excitement. Here’s how it happened.
2020 Lockdown - What Could They Do?
If you recall, June 2020 was all about COVID. In Jordan, we’d just come out of a strict lockdown; the airports were closed, travel was impossible, and the kids were out of school but not allowed to congregate in groups. What could they do all summer? Make videos! We established the first-ever SourceFlix|Expedition Bible Summer Intern Program. Our three children and one of their close friends worked as video editors, CGI graphics creators, animators, illustrators, camera operators, and sound technicians. That summer, as a team, we produced eight videos. The plan was to start a YouTube channel and release those videos in conjunction with the publication of our book, Where God Came Down. As it all turned out, the book release was significantly delayed, and the YouTube idea floundered.
35 Vidoes - Then “We’ll See”
As time passed, the question frequently arose, what are we going to do with the videos we made? We knew it was time for the YouTube idea to come to life or be put to rest, but we weren’t sure if YouTube was the right place to invest our energy and ministry resources. After much discussion, prayer, and numerous hours of watching videos on “How to Start a YouTube Channel,” we decided to go for it. We knew the conventional wisdom touted by all the YouTube gurus was that we likely wouldn’t see much growth for a long time, so we devised our plan: release 35 videos, then we’ll see if it’s working.
4x's to 2x's - In ALL Things!
Our channel launch was a testimony to the truth of Romans 8:28. God specifically used the craziness of COVID lockdowns to allow us to build up a repertoire of videos. That was important because, according to the YouTube sages, we knew we needed to release content frequently and consistently if we wanted to grow as a channel. Those eight Summer Intern videos gave us what we needed to get started. Every week, a new Expedition Bible video posted. People found our channel. People watched our videos. People communicated that they eagerly looked forward to new videos coming out. By God’s blessing and grace, Expedition Bible grew really fast, and those initial videos succeeded. It was a fantastic affirmation to the kids that the material they had helped create was being used to encourage and equip the body of Christ and offer evidence to anyone seeking to know Truth.
However, in all the excitement and blessing, one problem became apparent—we couldn’t keep up the pace of releasing a video each week. We no longer had a multi-person team working each day, and videos require a lot of work in the field and in post-production. We realized we had to scale back to releasing a new video every two weeks. We changed the wording on our channel’s banner from “Watch for a New Video Each Friday!” to “Watch for New Releases!” As we let a week go by without a new video for the first time since launching, we felt insecure and worried that this change might harm our channel.
Also, our need for video content led us to “repurpose” our older features, produced long before the YouTube channel began: The Soul Shepherd, The Jesus Tomb Unmasked, Jericho Unearthed, and The Bible vs. Joseph Smith. We were concerned about how those would be received, especially The Bible vs. Joseph Smith, since it wasn’t specifically archaeological in nature and focused on Mormonism. To be honest, we were concerned that our viewers might be annoyed and that the almighty YouTube algorithm might drop us like a bad habit and stop promoting the channel. But, viewers didn’t seem to mind (and many didn’t seem to notice) the time gap or the Mormonism focus. In fact, they responded excitedly to see the Bible’s strength demonstrated so clearly. YouTube didn’t penalize us, and our viewership continued to grow. Videos that had been gathering dust as DVDs waiting to be ordered were now available to the world, accessible to anyone searching, trying to find answers. Again, with Romans 8:28 in mind, we should have been confident that the Almighty One directing ALL things was absolutely not YouTube’s algorithm!
5 of Us - The “Team”
Since scaling back to a video every two weeks, we’ve had to pull back yet again to releasing one video a month. For the time being, that is what we can manage. Our children are still significantly involved with CGI, graphics, and illustrations. And thanks to Dropbox, our two college kids can contribute remotely from a different continent. But, the reality is that our “production studio” is a converted closet area at the far end of our bedroom. Our camera “crew” is…me. Our editing, lighting, and sound team…me. Our scriptwriter, location scout, and equipment manager…yep…also me. Thumbnails, titles, descriptions, uploads, correspondence, music licensing, and a host of other things…that’s Cathy. Amazingly, this YouTube experiment is working, and we don’t have to wait till we reach 35 videos to see that. But its success is definitely by God’s strength, not our own.
This coming year, we must figure out how to bring on additional help to grow our production capacity. Your donations will allow us to move to that next level, and we sincerely thank you! We do want to grow this channel. Not because we, personally, want to be “big,” but because we want to have as large an impact for the Kingdom of God as the YouTube platform can offer.
In the meantime, we are learning to trust that the Lord will direct our growth and we are learning to relax amid the pressure of all that is YouTube. We do not have to be insecure about being genuinely who we are: a husband and wife, and three children, a family of five, serving God’s kingdom…as YouTubers.
1000’s - A Glimpse into Lives
We get thousands of comments on the channel. The majority are words of encouragement, thanking us for our videos. Some are pretty antagonistic toward Christianity, God, and the Bible. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, and a few are incomprehensible and bizarre (most of those get deleted). When people tell us that they are stirred to pick up their Bibles, that they are finding answers to questions they’ve long held, that they are encouraged to share their faith, and that they are excited to share and use our videos, we catch a glimpse into the many ways that God is at work, changing lives. Through your support, you are partners in what God is doing. Here are just a few “glimpses” to encourage you as well.
2023 - When You Think of Us
As we move forward into this new year, continuing with this YouTube "expedition," we would greatly appreciate your prayer support in the following areas:
- Wisdom to know how to expand and incorporate help with video production
- Wisdom in making choices about which video topics to create and what additional projects to develop (books, teaching courses, etc.)
- Safety and protection for Joel when he’s traveling and filming on location
- Safety and protection for our family spread across two continents with our oldest two children in college
- Continued reliance on God’s power to not our own
- Ministry usefulness for the growth of God's kingdom, for the equipping and strengthening of the body of Christ, and for witnessing to the power and truth of God's Word
With our humble thanks and deepest gratitude,
From The Kramer Family