Both members and official sources belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a significant and growing presence on YouTube.
Touchstorm Video Index identified Mormon Channel as a “top brand” last month, meaning it is one of only 74 brands that have a channel group with more than 43 million viewers, according to a press release from Mormon Newsroom. The Church maintains four YouTube channels in addition to Mormon Channel: Mormon.org, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mormon Newsroom and
Mormon Channel manager Todd Daley said the channels are part of an effort to “provide content that inspires and uplifts, and people seem to be responding to it.”
Some returned missionaries are also taking their missionary work to the Internet. Alex and Rebecca Balinski, recent BYU graduates, felt inspired to create a video resource for future missionaries called Prepare to Serve.
The Balinskis uploaded their 100th missionary interview to YouTube on Friday, Nov. 22 that will help missionaries learn more about their missions.
“The overall goal is to help build up the kingdom of God, by helping missionaries better prepare culturally and spiritually to serve their missions and to flood YouTube with positive LDS videos, in every language,” Alex Balinski said. “We also hope the interviews will rekindle the missionary spirit in returned missionaries and act as a form of personal history for them.”
The Balinskis both served missions, Rebecca in the Philippines Baguio Mission and Alex in the Argentina Neuquen Mission. They believe there is no better way for people to find out about certain missions than from the missionaries who served there.
Lynnell Zempoaltecatl, a BYU student earning her master’s degree in electrical engineering, served in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission and enjoyed the chance to share her experiences though the Prepare to Serve project.
“With the increasing number of missionaries being called to serve, there is a greater need to provide them with information that will help them prepare to serve,” Zempoaltecatl said. “These videos answer a wide variety of questions about many different missions. It is a great resource for someone who wants to learn more about their mission and get ideas about how to best prepare.”
Zempoaltecatl appreciates her interview with the project as a resource for future missionaries, but also as a resource for her future family.
“I will always have (my interview) to remember our stories and pass them down to future generations,” Zempoaltecatl said. “My husband, who is a convert, was able to reflect on how he gained his testimony and now we would like to interview his parents, who are also converts, so we can save their story and share it with our kids and grandkids.”
Greer Bates, a junior majoring in history who served in Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk Mission was intimidated by the information she found about her future mission.
“When I first received my call, I immediately searched on Google for ‘Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine,’ and the fist several search results were about a series of murders by some gang in Dnepropetrovsk,” Bates said. “That was a pretty intimidating discovery. I tried to hide that from my mom.”
Bates is glad to be a part of the Prepare to Serve Project and help build a positive information resource for missionaries.
“The more good information available on the Internet to help people learn what their missions are really like, the better future missionaries will be able to prepare to serve. And the more at-ease missionaries’ parents can be about where they’re sending their children,” she said.
The Balinskis want to encourage people to avoid anti-Mormon content in general but especially on the Internet because the more attention it gets, the greater chance it has of misleading more people.
“The best way they can help the Church on YouTube is to simply ignore anti-Mormon videos and watch, rate and comment on positive LDS videos,” Alex said. “Over time this simple practice will help positive LDS content outrank negative anti-Mormon content.”
People can do this by subscribing to pro-LDS YouTube channels and sharing videos about gospel principles.
The Balinskis are always looking returned missionaries to interview to reach their goal of having positive, informative content from every mission, state and country. Interested returned missionaries can visit http://www.youtube.com/user/PreparetoServe to watch the interviews and learn more about the project.