Judah Smith talks about Christian alternative to YouTube

Pastor of Churchome, Judah Smith, 2021
Pastor of Churchome, Judah Smith, 2021 | Scenario PR

Bestselling author and lead pastor of Churchome, Judah Smith is part of a new innovative mobile app developed by Seventh Spark named Faithful.

The Christian app is a space for believers to stream sermons and original content from some of the most prominent spiritual leaders today. 

The app offers users an alternative space to help people deepen their connection to God without being bombarded with secular ads as what is seen on YouTube and other streaming services. 

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In an interview with The Christian Post, Smith said he's "really excited and thankful for what we've been able to put together” through the Faithful app.

"We found that 50% of millennials are watching Christian content on YouTube and the experience at YouTube, obviously, is not tailor-made or curated for someone who's living a faith-based lifestyle,” he said.

Smith explained that Christians streaming on YouTube might be watching their favorite Steven Furtick sermon on the platform but then suddenly get push notifications for someone who's from a different religion.

“YouTube is fantastic, [but] it's just not wired that way,” he said. 

The curated content features over 50 motivational voices around the world. The faith leaders include: Smith and his wife, Chelsea; Charlotte Gambill of LIFE Church; Levi and Jennie Lusko of Fresh Life Church; Dharius Daniels of Change Church; Samuel Rodriguez of New Season Worship; Chad Veach of Zoe Church; Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church; Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands; Steven Furtick of Elevation Church; Rich and DawnChere Wilkerson of Vous Church; reality star and Christian speaker Sadie Robertson, and many others.

"We're going to be that space in the world saying, ‘Hey, you can grow spiritually in just a couple minutes a day,’” Smith said. “One of the first things that happens when you download the app is we're going to ask the question, ‘How much time do you have?’

"There's a little button that says under five minutes, and then you can pick the topics that you're struggling with. You can also pick your favorite preachers from our roster, which is going to grow every day.”

The app allows users to choose a specific time every day to listen to preachers speak on various topics such as “anxiety, or loneliness, or joy, or courage.” 

“We're going to use technology as much as we can to get the word out,” Smith stressed. 

The minister also said that the technology will provide Bible studies in addition to topical options and will not be a seeker-friendly experience, but instead biblically sound.

"The Bereans searched the scripture to ensure that what Paul taught was true,” Smith noted. “We want to inform people, we want to educate people, we want to empower people to understand how to study their Bible.” 

“There's thousands of hours of content on the Faithful app, not the least of which is how to study your Bible. There are masterclasses from some brilliant theologians and thinkers who are going to put that together to help us study our Bible,” he continued.

Smith said he believes both topical sermons and in-depth chapter studies are essential. 

“As a pastor and pastoring Churchome now, for instance, we're about to go into a Galatians series. I'm going to do a study on multiple chapters and we're just going to go verse by verse, but we just got done with the series on trauma,” he added. “I think being able to understand that both topical study of Scripture is important and then, of course, verse by verse is also important. But context is always imperative when interpreting the Scripture.”

2020 was a year of great hopelessness for many and even exposed some preachers' failings, but Smith assured that all of the pastors featured on the app are people of integrity. 

“We've tried to be really diligent in our roster to have people that are people of integrity, people who understand hermeneutics and how to study their Bible,” Smith insisted. “I think you're going to find there's a really sound, good Bible teaching that can really help us grow just a few minutes every single day.”

The platform, he added, is designed to allow users to choose who they want to follow while also discovering new pastors.

When asked about the importance of being a preacher in these times, the prominent American pastor said modern-day ministers help people learn how to apply the Word of God to their everyday life. 

"The word application comes to mind when Bible study or Bible teaching is in play. We've got to be really effective and efficient at making application to people's everyday life,” Smith maintained.

The Seattle resident referenced how Jesus spoke of modern-day things when He walked the Earth to help share the message of God. 

"It's one of the reasons I'm excited about Sadie Robertson. She is a young, powerful woman who has so much to say about Jesus and living a life in loving others,” he said. “She's been exposed to this massive TV program with her parents, and so she has this take on how to reach the world and how to love people, and how to love people who maybe don't know Jesus. It is time that more and more voices begin to rise.” 

"You got Steven Furtick, who might be the most listened to preacher in the world,” Smith added. “Then you have brand new faces and voices that I think people will be like, ‘Wow, I didn't know of her or him. Now I do. And they might end up finding their brand new favorite preacher and we're pretty excited about that as well.” 

When asked why people should choose Faithful instead of YouTube, the spiritual leader who is popularly known as Justin Bieber’s pastor, said because it’s a safe space.

"I think YouTube, rightfully so, dominates the space [because] it just seems like that's the easiest spot,” Smith said. “One of the challenges, I'll just be very candid, I have 16 and 13-year-old sons, and honestly, them going to YouTube to watch content — YouTube also understands that it's a young man watching and there'll be notifications for models or girls or whatever. That can be very counterproductive to your spiritual growth.” 

He added, "We believe that Faithful is a safe space. It also can be tailor-made to the individual and your spiritual journey, while also [pushing] you [to] some new voices so that you don't stay siloed in listening to the two preachers you love.” 

"I think one of the beautiful things that we're experiencing with faithful is we're also demonstrating that over 50 preachers, pastors and leaders of different communities around the world can work together to share the message of faith, hope and love at a time that we desperately need it,” Smith continued.

“So I assure you, if you go to Faithful, do our onboarding process, which honestly will take you about two minutes or less, we're going to find out where you are and what headspace you're in, what needs you have, and the communicators that you like, and we're going to be able to, in just a few minutes a day, give you content that really will help you grow.”

Smith added that he likes to meditate on just one scripture a day which helps him to not get “overwhelmed” and actually apply the Word of God.  

Faithful is a free ad-free service and is available now on the App Store and Google Play. A paid subscription option is also available for $9.99 monthly. 

The free content includes thousands of hours of full sermons (all ad-free with background audio) and a unique Verse of the Day experience that mixes scripture with interactive teaching. The subscription feature includes guided prayers and masterclasses.

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