The video-sharing website most used for pop promotions, film trailers and personal “vidcasts”, is set to become the next tool in the Church of England’s battle to curb declining attendances.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to use the site to broadcast his sermons in an attempt to make the Church more relevant to the internet generation.
A video will also be put on YouTube later this month urging other churches to advertise the contemporary style of their services and suggesting ideas introduced under the Fresh Expressions initiative, which was set up by Rowan Williams.
“The potential of YouTube is enormous,” a Lambeth Palace spokesman said. “It provides limitless access to what any minister has to say. You have to preach where people are listening.”
Up to 100 million clips are viewed daily on YouTube and it has almost 20 million visitors each month.
While the rate of decline in attendance at Church of England services has slowed recently, it lost 100,000 worshippers between 2000 and 2002 – nearly eight per cent. In particular, it has seen the average age of its congregations rise as the number of young people in the pews has dropped.
The Rev Steve Croft, team leader of Fresh Expressions, said that YouTube could provide the perfect way to reach teenagers.
About 300 alternative schemes have been established under the initiative, including services in pubs, cafes and buses.