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The Ministry of Curation

November 29th, 2023 | 3 min. read

By Ian Harber


The Ministry of Curation

Not everyone has the bandwidth or the desire to become a content creator. If I were talking to a pastor and they told me they were too busy with their day-to-day duties to make a YouTube channel like Gavin Ortlund or Trey VanCamp or to start a podcast like Brad Edwards and John Houmes, I would completely understand. It's not for everyone. But that doesn't mean there is no way to use the internet for ministry. Don't neglect another aspect of digital ministry: the ministry of curation.

With massive changes happening on the internet right now, such as the end of verification, the rise of AI, and the loss of institutional trust that will soon translate into a loss of trust even in the pseudo-institution of social media, people will start to rely on their personal relationships as one of the few trustworthy sources they have. Word-of-mouth will only become more important as we trust discovery algorithms less and less, which means that being a content curator can position you as a filter others turn to so they can determine who and what to trust.

This is a unique opportunity for humans to function almost as bespoke algorithms in their interpersonal relationships and online followings. Instead of relying on a faceless, profit-driven corporation to feed you mindless or harmful content that they think will interest you based on your seconds-long watch time, people can rely on you—an actual person they know, interact with, and trust—to point them in the right direction to content that they not only care about but is beneficial for them.

It can be just as helpful—maybe sometimes even more so—to curate some of your favorite resources on a particular topic that you can send to someone to introduce them to an issue they have questions about or if they simply want to grow. It also means that when something comes up in conversation, and you know a particular resource would be pertinent, you’ve already done the work of curating it and can quickly find the link to share.

For instance, just a few weeks ago, in a Bible study at church, the Didache was mentioned. My friend leaned over to me and asked, “What’s the Didache?” Since I had already put together a simple website that curated a handful of documents from church history, I had the link for the Didache ready to go and texted it to him. Now, he can read the Didache and several other intriguing documents from church history if he wishes to. Yes, he could have simply Googled it. But I put this resource together to present church documents in a way that is hand-curated, aesthetically pleasing to read, and easy to share.

Okay, that’s a pretty niche example. Fair enough. But when my friend told me she was really struggling with some aspects of her faith and had a lot of questions that seemed hard to find answers to, I sent her the Spotify playlist I curated with over 100 hours of content for her to work through and pointed her to a few specific items. As of right now, nearly two hundred people have saved that playlist for themselves, and I’ve received emails and messages telling me how much it has helped them wrestle through difficult questions and seasons in their faith. I’ve had people who don’t love reading books or have a physical reason that they can’t read books tell me they’re thankful for having a playlist of this size and depth to work through.

(I’m not saying I’m the reason you can make podcast playlists on Spotify, but I’m also not saying I’m not the reason. Ask and you shall receive.)

But even that huge playlist could be segmented into smaller playlists focusing only on one topic. Moreover, YouTube playlists focusing on specific topics could be created, too. Some creators do that for their own content, like Gavin Ortlund’s Arguments for God playlist, Dallas Willard Ministry’s Beyond Belief playlist (I bet you didn’t know there’s a treasure trove of Willard lectures on YouTube), and N.T. Wright’s ongoing Thinking Through Salvation playlist. All of these playlists can be saved to your YouTube profile for easy access. But why stop there? Why not create your own playlist on a specific topic, mixing and matching all kinds of different content? Sermons, interviews, lectures, TED Talks, content from Christians and non-Christians, creators, and academics. The opportunities here are endless.

You don’t have to be a content creator to be a content curator. All it takes is being slightly more intentional as you consume content that you find helpful and curating it so it can be helpful for others. How many people have benefited from Tim Challies’ long-running blog curating his favorite articles? Sometimes, a book isn’t always the right thing to hand to a person at a particular moment, but a podcast or video might be. How much better would it be if you were prepared for that moment before it arrived?

Consider the ministry of curation. The tools are freely at your disposal, you are already consuming the content, and the need, as we move closer and closer to a post-literate society is all the more pressing. The Share button is the Care button in the digital age. Who will you care for this week?

Ian Harber

Ian is a marketing manager at Endeavor and is a digital marketing practitioner with 10 years of experience. He has written about faith and technology, deconstruction and reconstruction for The Gospel Coalition and Mere Orthodoxy as well as appearing on podcasts such as Reconstructing Faith, The Alisa Childers Podcast, Love Thy Neighborhood, The Living Room Disciple, Everything Just Changed, and more. Additionally, Ian has contributed to the book, Before You Lose Your Faith: Deconstructing Doubt in the Church (TGC, 2021) and is the author of an upcoming a forthcoming book about deconstruction with InterVarsity Press (2024). Ian lives in Denton, Texas with his wife, Katie, and son, Ezra and is a member at The Village Church Denton.

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