Increasingly, creative media is engaging modern audiences deeply and widely in the Bible. Based in overwhelmingly secular Portland, OR, The Bible Project is at the leading edge of guiding young audiences into Biblical studies. Especially and ironically where faith is least popular, according to Barna Research.
Communicating the Christian faith to a rapidly secularizing culture is an increasing challenge. Reaching young generations who are approaching the age of parenthood where there are low percentages of Christians is especially a challenge. But these problems are being addressed and solved by innovative, creative media outreach such as The Bible Project.
What is The Bible Project?
The Bible Project is at the leading edge of addressing and solving these challenges. Especially with the use of YouTube, which is the second most generally used search engine, and YouVersion (a Bible app). The Bible Project’s content is especially popular on the East and West Coasts, where faith is least popular in general.
On the digital platforms that the Bible Project is using, demographic information is available related to who is using Bible Project content and how much of the content the viewers are using. According to Michael McDonald, Director of Strategic Relationships for The Bible Project, they are reaching the YouTube generation. Youtube is the number one platform for 18-35 aged males that churches are most challenged to reach.
The Bible Project, which uses no ads on its free platforms, is a crowdfunded, non-profit, creative studio. It is dedicated to communicating a single, powerful message to the world from the Bible. This is one unified story that leads to Truth and faith Christ Jesus. Celebrated for its captivating, animated YouTube videos outlining and simplifying each book of Scripture, The Bible Project is a fan-driven, fan-funded movement that provides its resources worldwide, free of charge.
Getting to Know Mike McDonald
McDonald, a former pastor who lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Melissa, brings years of experience to bear. He connects with leaders, influencers, journalists, and supporters, ensuring they take advantage of the unparalleled content library the organization has to offer. Prior to joining The Bible Project, he served for over a decade in more than 15 countries working to improve people’s daily lives, one community at a time. Focused on educational, micro and macro financing projects, conflict resolution, and economic development, he was able to impact over 100,000 people in over 60 communities.
McDonald has also led thousands of Christian leaders on more than 200 trips to the Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa, as well as working in Iraq, Uganda, Somalia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Haiti. Further, he has served on a number of boards—including Remember Nhu and Fly Fishing Collaborative—with a focus on ending child sex trafficking.
Dr. Diane Howard exclusively interviews Mike McDonald, Director of Strategic Relationships for The Bible Project and MomCon:
How are these projects unique?
MM: They are free resources with high quality, content. The MomCon project serves busy moms. We have sought the input from busy moms in focus groups and responded to their needs. The Bible Project also meets people where they are and presents the Bible as a unified story to Jesus. It involves understanding the Bible as a massive narrative. It presents the Bible in context to faith-friendly people with “explainer videos.” Jon Collins with his cutting-edge business understanding and Tim Mackie with his Bible scholarship have developed the Bible Project with its animated engaging videos as catalysts to help people get into the Bible. The animated videos lend themselves to translations and to staying evergreen.
What challenges are these projects addressing?
MM: People are busy. We are also approaching post-Bible Christianity. Many do not think they need the Bible. As we reveal our true God of compassion and justice, the Bible Project addresses the growing indifference and even hostility to the Bible because of the people associated with it.
Who are the intended audiences for these projects?
MM: We have produced 150 videos for global distribution. These videos are being translated into 54 languages with populations with the highest percentage of Christians who have internet access. Our videos are also being used by other organizations to equip Christians in the work of ministry.
How are your projects reaching intended audiences?
MM: We use two platforms: Youtube and YouVersion (a Bible app). On these platforms, we get feedback and analytical data in real-time. We can see what ages and other demographic information about those who are using our project, which is interactive with no ads. We do not receive income from our videos. Our videos are being used by a range of viewers from young to university levels.
What kinds of responses have you received from intended audiences?
MM: We receive thousands of questions and comments. Some come to faith with our videos and share their faith with others. We work with other organizations, such as Compassion International. We serve a full range of ages because our videos relate to all ages, and we model asking questions on the videos.
How are these role models as outreach projects?
MM: They have been role models with our approach to funding. We have found that when we make high-quality videos with good content, the project is funded by supporters. We use theme videos that involve personal application. Viewers can identify with and connect to the actual story.
What valuable lessons about communication have you learned with these projects?
MM: We are reaching the YouTube generation, which is the number one platform especially for 18-35 aged males, which the churches have the hardest time reaching. We can see where people viewing have lost interest. Cadence is important and how cadence matches those who finish the videos or not. We put science into our work. When YouTube sees that our videos are popular, we find that YouTube points viewers to our videos.
Is it true that the content of these projects is most popular in places where faith is least popular according to Barna Research?
MM: Is true. Our highest views come from the coastal states with lower percentages of people of Christian faith. We have also found that our project is reaching a range of audiences from all denominations.
The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos. It makes the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. They create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story. It focuses on the Bible’s overarching themes and each book’s literary design.
The Bible Project has over 150 million organic views. It has also released the first crowdfunded digital devotional for busy moms at #MomCon. “Gospel Wisdom for Moms” is free. It is based on the Bible Project’s popular Luke-Acts Video Miniseries. Moms can either download the devotional or go through it as an online course.
Mike McDonald says,
We talked to a lot of moms as we designed this course, and their feedback was unanimous—they’re busy, they find it hard to get a moment of peace, and often feel that focusing on their faith is a struggle. This tailored devotional is free, it’s super easy to use, and—most importantly—we’ve packed loads of personally-enriching material into short bursts of time that make this digestible…. It’s a thrill to be able to offer this for free thanks to 100,000 supporters who crowdfunded the project….”
The Bible Project is committed to helping viewers understand the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom to the modern world.